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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Expanding Our Vision of What Is Possible the last , (and We a have few other spent countries) fifteen as authors, so or years college traveling the United speakers, States instructors, children’s teachers, and program consultants, sharing words and images of inspiration and experiential activities. We hope to convey our respect for children and our sense of gratitude and pride in our profession—we are indeed honored to do this work. In our travels we also convey strong words of caution and concern and a reminder that we must be ever vigi- lant as our profession continues to grow and be regulated. The emphasis on standards, assessments, and adopted curriculums is often overshadow- ing the children, families, and staff because there is a tendency to apply them narrowly without careful, innovative thinking. Too many programs have been developing what author and Harvard educator Tony Wagner calls “a culture of compliance” aimed at minimums, not dreams, for chil- dren and educators. Embracing the idea of the environment as a significant educator in early childhood programs requires expanding your thinking beyond the notion of room arrangements. You must ask yourself what values you want to communicate through learning environments and how you want children and their teachers to experience their time in your program. From the physical to the social and emotional environment, how are you demonstrating that you respect and treasure childhood and the identity of particular children and their families? Are you showing pride in your work and an ongoing commitment to developing yourself and your profession? Apart from the benchmarks of outside assessors, to what do you want to hold yourself accountable? We have received a strong, heartwarming response to the inspiring stories and photographs of environments featured in the first edition of this book. The response we got to our call for contributions to this second edition was enormously gratifying, reassuring us that early childhood educators are on the move to create wonderful environments in their pro- grams. We continue to encounter those who claim, “But we can’t do that . . . our space isn’t big enough . . . we don’t have the budget . . . our licensor won’t let us.” We remind the naysayers that some years ago, Deb decided to leave her college teaching career to try these design ideas working directly with children. She initially worked again with preschoolers for eight years, and then for the next five years she found a new love in working with toddlers. This very personal, as well as professional, journey, along with the inspiration of countless other educators we have encountered, has taught us many lessons. We’ve learned that with vision and determination, COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Introduc tion   ]   9