Professionalizing DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Early Childhood Education As a Field of Practice A Guide to the Next Era S TAC I E G . G O F F I N Foreword by Rhian Evans Allvin COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET “As Stacie Goffin points out, this is a defining moment for early childhood educa- tion. Public need and demand for high-quality early childhood programs continue to grow. Federal and state policies play an important role in early childhood edu- cation, but that role should be supportive, not directive or field defining. This will happen only with a unified voice from the early childhood field that articulates how best to prepare, support, compensate, and hold accountable educators and programs for meeting the needs of the children and families they serve. Goffin has put forth a compelling case and framework for moving forward. The field should embrace it and begin the work to ‘change from inside out’ and become a true profession.” —L aura B ornfreund , D eputy D irector , E arly E ducation I nitiative at N ew A merica “Stacie Goffin makes a strong case to confront the hard questions that divide the early childhood field of practice. She’s right. The time has come to unify and professionalize the field—not just rhetorically but as evidenced by the caliber of interactions with children and their families. We all need to reflect on our roles and rethink our positions if together we are going to reengineer an early care and education system that offers infants, toddlers, and young children the early learn- ing experiences they so richly need and deserve.” —M atthew E. M elmed , E xecutive D irector , Z ero to T hree “Few can any longer deny that ECE’s fragmentation is hurtful to children and to ECE as a field of practice. Few can now deny that inclusive early learning settings for young children are beneficial to all involved—whether children with typical trajectories of development or those whose development pathways diverge from this trajectory. Fulfilling the aspirations of ECE, though, requires that we enter into the conversations Goffin proposes. Kudos to her for preparing this guide for our journey.” —P amela W inton , P h D, S enior S cientist and D irector of O utreach , F rank P orter G raham C hild D evelopment I nstitute , U niversity of N orth C arolina –C hapel H ill COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET “For over a decade Stacie Goffin has persuasively argued that leadership is needed within the field to transform it into a coherent, competent, and accountable pro- fession. In this guidebook she defines the hard questions and provides the tools for structuring conversations that will make that vision a reality.” —P aula J orde B loom , P h D, D istinguished P rofessor of R esearch and P ractice , F ounder , M c C ormick C enter for E arly C hildhood L eadership , N ational L ouis U niversity “Goffin’s book provocatively and insightfully sets the stage for ‘conversations with intent’ about what should define and unite early childhood education as a field of practice. The inclusion of early intervention and early childhood special education in these conversations is critical to ensure all children and each child as well as their families benefit from a competent and unified workforce. The conversations will not be easy, and the questions to be addressed are challenging. The guide- book Goffin has artfully crafted will help stimulate the forms of conversation as well as the collective actions needed to propel us from our present state to a new era—and a unified field of practice.” —P atricia S nyder , P h D, P rofessor and D avid L awrence J r E ndowed C hair in E arly C hildhood S tudies , U niversity of F lorida “In this book, Goffin taps the essence of leadership—the unwillingness to live with the status quo. She continues to compel us to face the reality of the ECE profession. She helps us accept that there are no sidelines in this work so not to bother looking for those seats. We must be ‘all in’ and thoughtfully engaged in ‘conversations with intent’ if our intention to professionalize ECE is to become a reality. Her strategies and recommended practices give us the courage to begin the journey, the tools to look inward to identify the challenges, and the belief that, if we embrace our fear and the uncertainty in this work, we can make this happen. We must be brave enough to leave the shore and trust the journey. Only we can make the journey, but the children are worth it.” —M argaret K reischer , E arly C hildhood E ducation P rogram C onsultant , C hild C are C oncepts and P ast C hair of the NAEYC A ffiliate C ouncil COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET “ ‘If the world were ideal, what conditions would need to be in place to structure ECE as a profession?’ This question crystalized for me the essence of Professionaliz- ing Early Childhood Education As a Field of Practice. We all know the world is not ideal, but we can and should have the courage to improve it with this book by Stacie Goffin. She leads us to think deeply and to take responsibility for the quality of education for young children. The book’s practical suggestions for organizing ‘conversations with intent’ give us exactly the guidance needed to move forward and establish ECE as a field of practice. I am optimistic that we will achieve the goal. Read the book, reflect, invite early educators in your area, follow Goffin’s model, facilitate a group, stay connected, and together we will make it happen.” —A ngèle S ancho P asse , author of E valuating and S upporting E arly C hildhood T eachers and other titles , past member of the NAEYC governing board “In this small but power-packed volume, veteran early childhood educator and child advocate Stacie Goffin takes on the ambiguous and challenging dilemmas of defining ECE as a profession. The book provides a timely call to action for all of us who recognize how typical care and education all too often ‘are contrary to our beliefs and knowledge about how best to support children’s learning and develop- ment.’ It is truly a must read for all who care about children!” —C arol G arhart M ooney , early childhood educator and author , T heories of P ractice : R aising the S tandards of E arly C hildhood E ducation COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Professionalizing Early Childhood Education As a Field of Practice COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Professionalizing Early Childhood Education As a Field of Practice A Guide to the Next Era S TAC I E G . G O F F I N COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Published by Redleaf Press National Association for the 10 Yorkton Court Education of Young Children St. Paul, MN 55117 1313 L Street NW, Suite 500 Washington, DC 20005-4101 © 2015 by Stacie G. Goffin All rights reserved. Unless otherwise noted on a specific page, no portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or capturing on any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a critical article or review to be printed in a magazine or newspaper, or electronically transmitted on radio, television, or the Internet. First edition 2015 Cover and interior design by Jim Handrigan Typeset in Weiss Printed in the United States of America 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 15 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Goffin, Stacie G. Professionalizing early childhood education as a field of practice : a guide to the next era / Stacie G. Goffin. pages cm Summary: “Professionalizing Early Childhood Education As a Field of Practice is a tool to help everyone in early childhood education engage in serious discussions about profes- sionalizing the field. Author and thought-leader Stacie G. Goffin has written a book that contains an overview of the topic, a participant guide, a conversation workbook, and a facil- itator guide; each section supports deep thought and creative discussions about how early childhood education can move toward being a professional field of practice”—Provided by publisher. Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 978-1-60554-434-2 (paperback) 1. Early childhood teachers—Training of. 2. Early childhood teachers—Professional eth- ics. 3. Early childhood education—Study and teaching. I. Title. LB1732.3.G64 2015 372.210973—dc23 2015010358 Printed on acid-free paper COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL NAEYC Item #7232 DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET h To those willing to risk the present as we know it to create a better future for young children and early childhood education as a field of practice h COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Contents Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xiii Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xvii Chapter 1: Moving Early Childhood Education Forward as a Professional Field of Practice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Stepping Forward to Become an Organized Field of Practice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Organizing as a Professional Field of Practice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Engaging with ECE’s Challenge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 How Do We Get Started? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Entering ECE’s Next Era through Conversations with Intent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 About This Book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 How to Use This Book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Chapter 2: Thinking Alone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 We Are Part of the System We Want to Change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Questions for Self-Reflection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Chapter 3: Thinking Together . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Setting the Stage for Conversations with Intent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Foundational Practices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Boosting Our Contributions to the Group Conversation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Creating Shared Meaning about ECE as a Professional Field of Practice . . . . . 40 Chapter 4: Supporting Successful Conversations with Intent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Convening Conversations with Intent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 The Facilitator’s Role . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64 Preparing the Learning Environment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66 Guiding ECE into Its Next Era . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 Endnotes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81 About the Author . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Foreword Sophistication. That is the word that comes to mind when I think about all that needs to happen in order for young children to be prepared for school and life. Whether it is scaffolding language or balancing early learning standards and de- velopmentally appropriate practice, using outdoor play to teach science concepts or charting kindergartners’ color preferences to help them understand mathemat- ics applications, these are all examples of what takes place in high-quality early learning environments. At the heart of these environments are early childhood educators—teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, and family child care home providers. While each of them may have taken a different path to arrive in the early education field, one thing is the same—children, families, communities, and the country are counting on them to deliver on the promise of high-quality early learning. We have made significant progress in understanding what early childhood educa- tors should know and be able to do. We now have a sharper focus on professional preparation systems (including higher education), and increased public financial investments are being made in early learning. Despite all of this, the field has not yet demanded that we take the next step: to create a professional field of practice. In this, Stacie Goffin’s latest book, she challenges early childhood educators not to wait for pressure from the outside, but instead to find the courage and intentional- ity to be creators of their own destiny. Among other systems-building strategies, Stacie asks us to contemplate our exist- ing mental models, as they are often deeply embedded and might be obstructing our progress. She encourages us to engage in personal reflection and initiate or participate in conversations with the intent to develop a shared understanding and evolved direction. She reminds us that moving this boulder will take both a personal and collective commitment, and that the action required must come from inside the field. She is right. For far too long we have approached this conversation from a deficit-based mod- el: we have been too timid, too worried about the unintended consequences, too |   xiii  | COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET xiv  |   FOREWORD fearful that there would be winners and losers. All the while the expectations and demands directed toward early childhood educators are increasing, and we have not agreed on and aligned the knowledge, competencies, professional preparation systems, and wage and compensation structures that will attract and retain the most highly qualified professionals. The book has great messages that reinforce that we all need to take a deep breath and imagine what could be, not just what is. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has a long history of working on behalf of early childhood educators, and recently the Association has redoubled its efforts. In November 2014, with significant stakeholder input, NAEYC completed a yearlong strategic planning process from which several key promises emerged. First, NAEYC’s new mission statement in- cludes language that addresses the association’s role in serving the profession: Mission Statement: NAEYC promotes high-quality early learning for all children, birth through age eight, by connecting practice, pol- icy, and research. We advance a diverse, dynamic early childhood profession and support all who care for, educate, and work on behalf of young children. Second, one of the five strategic priorities that emerged focuses on early child- hood educators: The Profession—Goal: The early childhood education profession exemplifies excellence and is recognized as vital and performing a critical role in society. NAEYC is prepared to exercise leadership and political capital to ensure this strategic priority is accomplished. A number of efforts are under way, including most notably initial market research for a national early childhood recruitment and retention campaign, the compilation of a national directory of higher educa- tion early childhood degree programs, and the piloting of professional develop- ment system indicators to measure the progress of state professional preparation systems. Additionally, many NAEYC affiliates are poised to play a leadership role in convening the state and local conversations of intent that Stacie so eloquently describes in this book. NAEYC is but one voice in a dialogue that Stacie urges us to hold in concentric circles of conversation nationwide. She provides a well-defined framework—and COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET FOREWORD  |   xv there is a seat at the table for everyone who wants to engage. The time has come to align the sophistication required of early childhood educators with the thresh- old of skills and competencies that define an early childhood field of practice. It is up to each of us to envision and create the professional field of practice that ensures that all young children are prepared to be successful in school and in life. R hian E vans A llvin E xecutive D irector N ational A ssociation for the E ducation of Y oung C hildren COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Acknowledgments IN CHAPTER 1, I STATE that this book has the potential to make this a defining moment for early childhood education (ECE) by helping propel the field into its next era. Reaching a moment like this doesn’t happen without many people being able to take credit. We are on the cusp of a budding movement to rethink ECE’s structure as a field of practice, enabling it to become more capable of fulfilling its promise. So my first expression of gratitude goes to the many colleagues— too many to name and some of whom are anonymous to me—who are stepping forward to make professionalizing ECE as a field of practice a cause. I also want to thank the many people who have listened to my ideas and helped to make them stronger and clearer. Also stepping forward is the National Association for the Education of Young Chil- dren. Someone questioning me about how NAEYC will be involved in this effort follows almost every presentation I’ve done on this topic. I’m most appreciative to Rhian Evans Allvin for her foreword and to NAEYC for its decision to make Profes- sionalizing Early Childhood Education As a Field of Practice: A Guide to the Next Era a member- ship benefit. I eagerly anticipate the association’s leadership in the context of its new strategic priority that seeks to ensure the ECE profession “exemplifies excellence and is recognized as vital and performing a critical role in society.” 1 Kyra Ostendorf is another of those individuals who has stepped forward. Upon first hearing of my interest in creating a conversation guide, she proposed Redleaf Press as its publisher. She not only shepherded the idea through to acceptance, she also was central in placing its publication on a super-fast track so it would quickly be available. Thanks go to David Heath and his staff, especially Heidi Hogg, Laurie Herrmann, Doug Schmitz, and Jim Handrigan for ensuring the tar- get date for publication came to fruition. David not only is the director of Redleaf Press, he also was my editor, and his commitment to my book and its message came through loud and clear. Deb Flis, whom I so admire as a friend and colleague, provided a very helpful review before the manuscript was sent to Redleaf Press. So did Michael Koetje, |   xvii  | COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET xviii  |  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS who among other things is president of the Washington Association for the Education of Young Children. Even before knowing about this book, he shared intentions to launch a statewide conversation revolving around the issues raised by my previous book, Early Childhood Education for a New Era: Leading for Our Profes- sion. That, of course, made him a perfect person to serve as a reviewer. My deep appreciation as well to the book’s endorsers: Pam Winton, Paula Jorde Bloom, Laura Bornfreund, Matthew Melmed, Pat Snyder, Angèle Passe, Carol Garhart Mooney, and Gege Kreischer. What a stellar list of colleagues and endorsements! They represent the broad range of “interests”—policy, higher education, program administration, professional development, and children from birth to age eight— whose engagement with these conversations will be crucial to advancing ECE as a professional field of practice. Because of the tight publication time frame, my husband, Bruce, had to endure my being immersed in the book’s development for an intense period of time. As always, he was gracious, accepting, and supportive. Thank you, Bruce, and Dave and Sabra too and, of course, Maya, who brings us so much joy. I know I’m an incredibly lucky person. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET CHAPTER 1 Moving Early Childhood Education Forward as a Professional Field of Practice FEW OF US FAMILIAR with early childhood education (ECE) are unaware of its struggle to fulfill its ambitions as a field of practice. 1 Even though in recent years ECE has experienced significant increases in policy support and funding, the field continues to be characterized by sector fragmentation, reliance on an underdevel- oped workforce, and uneven public respect, resulting in a divided field of practice, patchy policy support, and capricious public financing. Further exacerbating the field’s status is its historic reluctance to step forward and create a desired future for ECE as a field of practice. As Jeffrey Conklin has noted, fragmentation represents a phenomenon that pulls apart something that potentially should be whole. 2 Consider the following: Other than working with children or on their behalf, few commonalities bind ECE in terms of shared knowledge, preparation, qualifications, commitments, or aspira- tions. Rarely do we think of ourselves as part of something larger than our individ- ual programs or separate sectors. As a field, we lack common expectations for the knowledge, skills, dispositions, or preparation teachers need for effective practice. As a result, the cohesion necessary for ensuring ECE’s practitioners consistently and competently facilitate children’s learning and development is lacking. 3 Fueled by findings from brain science and evaluations of high-quality ECE pro- grams, immense resources have been directed toward reducing learning gaps between low-income kindergartners and their more advantaged peers. This has resulted in an unprecedented spotlight being aimed at ECE over the past three decades. Yet despite this surge in policy and public interest • too many children are losing ground, and too many others are not access- ing their potential; |   1  | COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 2  |   CHAPTER ONE • notable gains exist in ECE’s knowledge base, but as a field of practice, they’re neither widely understood nor applied; • increased expectations exist for ECE’s contributions to children’s successful kindergarten entry, but the field lacks the ability to fulfill them; • the field’s increasingly complex systems of delivery, uneven funding, and variable standards undermine a more coherent approach for achieving con- sistent results across settings; and • others, impatient with the field’s relative passivity, have stepped into the leadership void. 4 This composite portrayal is discouraging at best. While growing in sophistication as a field of practice, ECE at this point in its evolution can best be described as a field whose occupational configuration—meaning the way in which the field’s components are arranged in relation to one another—is unsuited to its current realities. Having acknowledged its present state, what follows is further explanation for the field’s need to step forward to co-create an alternative future for ECE as a field of practice and for the children and families it serves. Professionalizing Early Childhood Education As a Field of Practice: A Guide to the Next Era, however, moves beyond my earlier efforts to present the case for rethinking ECE as a field of practice by iden- tifying questions that will need to be addressed and the individual and collective skills that will be required to answer them. This first chapter concludes with an overview of this guide, its purpose, and its organization. STEPPING FORWARD TO BECOME AN ORGANIZED FIELD OF PRACTICE This is a defining moment for ECE. Families and leaders in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors are all demanding more of ECE. Yet studies too often doc- ument that ECE’s practitioners do not foster early learning in ways that fulfill expectations 5 —not only the general public’s but also our own as a field. According to a citation by Steven Barnett, between 35 and 45 percent of children entering kindergarten are ill prepared to succeed in school. 6 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET MOVING EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION FORWARD  |   3 During the past half-century of exponential growth, the field has largely reacted to its changing circumstances. Instead of stepping forward in response to new realities and differently envisioning ECE as a field of practice in order to elevate collective competence, the field has looked to others to do the heavy lifting. Most especially, it has relied on advocates, policy makers, and individuals with business and financial clout to expand public recognition of ECE’s importance and enlarge public financing. Spurred by the field’s inaction, these supporters have begun defining ECE as a field of practice. While partnering with families, business, and government is essential to achieving the learning and development results wanted for children, the consequences of ECE’s external orientation are defining decrees from those outside the field. Unfortunately, these decrees too often are contrary to our beliefs and knowledge about how best to support children’s learning and development. The time has come for the ECE field to step forward and change from inside out—to retreat from over-reliance on policy makers and others as change agents on ECE’s behalf. Altering the discouraging facts listed earlier depends on our field accepting responsibility for its practitioners’ competency and their contributions to chil- dren’s learning and development. ECE needs to become accountable as a field of practice and be the change agent in defining what this means. ECE has long claimed the mantle of professionalism, and by almost all indicators the nature of its work aligns with that of a profession. Yet as a field of practice, ECE lacks the attributes associated with recognized professions: • clarity of shared purpose; • organizing structures and supportive institutions that bound practitioners by common knowledge and skills; • clear scopes of practice; • responsibility for evolving and applying a specialized knowledge base; and • acceptance of the ethical responsibility to perform consistently at a level of competence capable of promoting children’s learning and development. 7 By structuring ECE as a profession, the field can create a cohesive occupational con- figuration aligned with its values and beliefs and with the systemic capacity to offer COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 4  |   CHAPTER ONE learning and development opportunities associated with children’s positive growth. DEFINITIONS • A field is an invisible world filled with mediums of connections: an invisible structure that connects. 1 • The term field of practice makes explicit that the purpose of the field in question revolves around performance of a specialized and shared competence. 2 • Professions are coherent, interconnected systems of preparation, practice, and responsibility. 3 • “A system is a set of things (people, cells, molecules, or whatever) interconnected in such a way that they produce their own pattern of behavior over time. The system may be buffeted, constricted, triggered, or driven by outside forces. But the system’s response to these forces is characteristic of itself, and that response is seldom simple in the real world. In essence, systems cause their own behavior.” 4 • “Mental models are deeply ingrained assumptions, generalizations, or even pictures or images that influence how we understand the world and how we take action.” 5 ORGANIZING AS A PROFESSIONAL FIELD OF PRACTICE In return for its unique societal contribution, a profession is granted autonomy as a field of practice, but this indepen- dence is coupled with certain responsibilities. A profession is expected to continually develop its expert knowledge base, given authority over its use in practice, and held accountable for monitoring members’ ethical and competent perfor- mance. A profession’s mandate is realized through interde- pendent systems of preparation, practice, and accountability, making professions unique in their occupational structure. At their core, systems are about the interconnections among their elements. 8 The connections and relationships within and across professions’ three primary system com- ponents are central to their coherence and effectiveness. By moving beyond its fragmented occupational configuration and structuring itself as a professional field of practice, ECE’s potential can be more fully realized. In 1996 Sharon Kagan and Nancy Cohen presented the first comprehensive vision for an ECE system. 9 Since then, the field has focused on developing its infrastruc- ture and easing the fragmented relationships embedded within and across policy, program delivery, and financing. Systems work related to professional develop- ment has attended primarily to cultivating coordination across the field’s varied education and training programs, expanding access, and creating career lattices. With growing recognition of teacher-child interactions as central to children’s learning and development, the work within this systems domain is also increasing- ly attending to teachers’ instructional and relationship skills. Absent from these systemic pursuits has been attention to structuring ECE as an organized field of practice, one unified by shared purpose and tightly bound by systems of COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET MOVING EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION FORWARD  |   5 preparation, practice, and accountability. Beyond providing for consistently compe- tent practice, the resultant system would form the nucleus around which delivery, policy, and financing systems should be adjusted, developed, and coordinated. 10 Tying infrastructure development to its formation as a professional field of practice can pro- vide the unifying, systemic, occupational structure needed by ECE to ratchet up the quality, effectiveness, and consistency of its practices across early learning settings. Rethinking ECE as cohesive systems joined together by common purpose, a special- ized knowledge base, required practice standards, and agreed-upon expectations for practitioners represents a paradigm shift. ECE would become a field of practice that accepts responsibility for realizing desired results for children. Among the benefits is establishing the accountability necessary for partnering with policy makers and others to increase field-wide capacity, which will enable the field’s societal contribu- tions to become more widely available. Embracing the merit of structuring ECE as a professional field of practice can re- define the field’s trajectory, unleash its potential, and raise its esteem in the public’s eyes. Although attending to children’s and families’ current early learning needs must remain part of our commitment to them in the present, solutions to these problems are inadequate to society’s long- The time has come term need for a competent field of practice capable of promot- for envisioning an ing every child’s early learning and development. The time has alternative future for ECE. come for envisioning an alternative future for ECE as a field of practice and determining how it will be achieved. This is a daring proposal, one whose fulfillment asks the ECE field to mobilize its collective will to • take charge of change; • become a self-governing, clearly delineated field of practice bound by com- mon purpose and destiny; and • replace its fragmented configuration with an occupational structure re- sponsive to society’s need for children who are capable of making the most of their learning potential. Professions offer a field-unifying strategy designed to bring an occupation’s mem- bers together around common purpose, collective expertise, and who is served. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 6  |   CHAPTER ONE They hold their members accountable for competent practices and responsible outcomes. Public esteem is based on an occupation’s contribution of its specialized knowledge and skills to society’s well-being—knowledge and skills not readily found in society at large. This, in turn, creates the need for formal and specialized preparation and oversight of practice. Finally, professions proactively exercise leadership that facilitates field-wide adaptation to new circumstances, seizes op- portunities for improving practice, and advocates for conditions that make compe- tent practice possible and accessible. 11 Not only can this increase children’s chanc- es of fulfilling their potential, it can do the same for ECE as a field of practice. ENGAGING WITH ECE’S CHALLENGE Organizing ECE as a profession will demand collective resolve to align the field’s espoused values and aspirations with the realities of its occupational configuration and uneven expectations for practitioners. Too often, those of us in ECE resist do- ing what we know to be necessary for achieving good results for children. We tol- erate poor performance from colleagues and ourselves and sidestep change, rather than grapple with thorny issues and challenging choices. At the risk of sounding preachy, taking a stand on the caliber and impact of our collective practice is part of our field’s moral task. Learning from Those Who Have Preceded Us Even though the field’s desired future state has been articulated, ECE’s configura- tion as a profession is unknown at present, as are the steps for getting there. The systemic change that lies ahead is best achieved through collective leadership and the real-time learning that comes from immersing in a complex change process that involves • opening up to multiple perspectives and interpretations of the field’s pres- ent status within and across its sectors and stakeholders; • facing difficult truths about current realities; • letting go of individual and collective thinking once defended as sacro- sanct; COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET MOVING EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION FORWARD  |   7 • figuring out how to rearrange ECE’s systems as a coherent whole instead of focusing on adjusting individual parts; • fostering generative conversations that spawn new possibilities; and • joining together to bring a coimagined future to fruition. 12 This will be a complex undertaking. Yet once united around a vision for the field’s future, the shared image of what we’re trying to create will focus and channel the purposefulness and energy of our systems change efforts. 13 This means, though, that “one needs to know what the profession aims to do,” 14 and we create “the ca- pacity to hold a shared picture of the future we want to create.” 15 Professionalizing Early Childhood Education As a Field of Practice: A Guide to the Next Era was written to move ECE beyond its longstanding impasse regarding the field’s purpose and responsibility. This stalemate has stymied our ability to progress as a field of practice and become “whole.” Study of other professions makes evident that the process of professionalizing will involve an extended developmental jour- ney that requires • identifying ECE’s unique contribution to society’s well-being; • ascertaining its specialized expertise; • forging a shared commitment to fulfilling its purpose; and • navigating currents of the field’s social and economic contexts. 16 Participants experienced with similar journeys recount that actions and decisions typically emerge while engaged with the work. As Peter Senge and his colleagues have forecast, “Like others before you, you will discover much of the plot as you invent it.” 17 Those of us engaged in systems work can relate to the accuracy of this last state- ment. This reality may be uncomfortable, though, for those preferring linear planning and clearly identified and timed benchmarks. The literature on systems change, however, makes it clear that ECE’s next step begins with • creating the conditions for seeing and thinking differently, both individual- ly and together; COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 8  |   CHAPTER ONE • accepting that definitive answers don’t yet exist; and • learning from and nurturing the collective intelligence, creativity, and experimentation that emerges over time. Resolving tough, adaptive challenges requires flexibility. The need to be open-minded can apply even to how success may ultimately be defined. 18 Tough Challenge ECE faces what Adam Kahane would categorize as a tough challenge. 19 The characteristics of tough challenges contrast with problems that can rely on im- plementing answers based on known knowledge and solutions, regardless of how complicated or demanding to execute. The systemic qualities of tough challenges mean they aren’t effectively tackled piece by piece in a sequential fashion. That approach fractures a system into its parts, sidelining the crucial connections and interrelationships upon which a system’s cohesion is dependent. Further, their social complexity promotes varied perspectives, values, and interests, requiring those of us living with the challenge to come together and engage in the creative work of resolving it. And because the future being created is as yet undetermined, current “best practices” are rarely capable of offering answers. Instead, new next practices have to be created. 20 Finally, ECE’s tough challenge has a strong adaptive component, necessitating that as a field we confront new realities, identify gaps between our aspirations and present standing, and grapple with what may need to be discarded in order to evolve into a professional field of practice. 21 By definition, confronting ECE’s tough challenge will entail dealing with uncer- tainty, disquiet, conflict, and possible loss. Consequently, the change process we’re about to undertake involves both our hearts and our minds. As Marty Linsky and Ronald Heifetz noted in their foreword to Ready or Not: Leadership Choices in Early Care and Education, 22 inherent to successfully engaging with ECE’s tough challenge are • confronting questions many of us would like to avoid; • managing resistance, both active and passive, from those of us who have a stake in the status quo; and • feeling uncomfortable when being held accountable for our role in the challenge at hand as well as for its solutions. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET MOVING EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION FORWARD  |   9 Having become aware of the unpredictable journey ahead, some of us may feel persuaded to withdraw from our field’s tough challenge. Yet throughout its histo- ry, ECE’s aspirations to maximize children’s early learning opportunities have in- spired our predecessors and colleagues to step forward on the field’s behalf. Surely this call for action will arouse similar dedication and commitment. Changing ECE as a Field of Practice Requires That   We Change Ourselves Our field’s beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors have contributed to ECE’s past and current challenges. While not solely responsible for ECE’s tough challenge, each of us participates in creating and sustaining the systems we now think need to be changed. This realization requires acknowledging that problems “out there” are also “in here” 23 and highlights why professionalizing ECE necessitates different ways of thinking. Few engaged with systems change question that this kind of work depends on new ways of thinking. 24 Professionalizing Early Childhood Education As a Field of Practice: A Guide to the Next Era begins the field-wide process of seeing and thinking differently about ECE as a field of practice. Innumerable questions await our consideration. For example, at the most basic level, “What unifying purpose brings ECE together across its multiple sectors?” Answers to questions such as this don’t already exist, which is what makes our undertaking a tough challenge infused What unifying purpose with adaptive work. 25 Moving forward as a professional field of brings ECE together across practice, therefore, requires that we open ourselves to change, its multiple sectors? both individually and collectively. Embracing change is essential to rethinking ECE’s occupational configuration for a new era. HOW DO WE GET STARTED? Stretching our thinking to escape the field’s fragmentation is a primary intent of this book. It may be surprising to learn that the best place to start is with conversations. Not just “any ol’ conversations,” though, but conversations that engage us in the kind of personal and collective reflection that invites thinking together about how to create an alternative future for ECE. 26 As described by COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 10  |   CHAPTER ONE Juanita Brown, “Conversation is the core process by which we humans think and coordinate our actions together. . . . Conversation is our human way of creating and sus- taining—or transforming—the realities in which we live.” 27 Conversations with this intent involve three distinct forms: dialogue, discussion, and advocacy. When skillfully practiced, the interplay of these three conversational forms can mobilize new ways of thinking and acting. This makes them ideal for initiating ECE’s journey of transformative systems change. I can imagine eyes rolling! ECE often is criticized for talking too much and using talk as a tactic to avoid taking action. The interactions being launched by this book, though, use conversations as a means for getting to action. Dialogue in conjunction with what Rick Ross and William Isaacs call “skilled discussion” and “balanced advocacy” foster shared understanding and relationship bonds that will be needed for future phases of this work. 28 They also support collaborative learn- ing and generate new best practice possibilities. Specifically, conversations over- laid with intentionality can • create a different conversational canvas for planning an alternative future for ECE; • fashion options for realizing ECE as a professional field of practice; and • lay needed groundwork for what lies ahead. You’re invited to join these conversations so ECE’s next era benefits from your knowledge and experience. ENTERING ECE’S NEXT ERA THROUGH CONVERSATIONS WITH INTENT This book shepherds the field’s entry into a new developmental phase, one that will be fashioned by the field’s dedication to realizing ECE’s potential, even while necessarily being contoured by current realities. Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey perhaps best express the dynamic nature of the work ahead: “We must grow into our future possibilities.” 29 The work of restructuring ECE as a field of practice is a tough challenge. Its transformation will not be born from a detailed blueprint or emerge in response COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET MOVING EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION FORWARD  |   11 to someone driving a predetermined change agenda. Nor would these approaches nurture the ongoing commitment necessary for sustainability. 30 Given ECE’s his- tory and current status as a field, transformative action depends first on creating shared understandings, relationships, and intentions. 31 In addition to the three objectives outlined earlier, these conversations have a fourth objective: to form and foster the conversational skills and boundary- crossing bonds foundational to the development of collective leadership, which, in turn, is integral to effecting systems change. 32 Although the change process is almost guaranteed to be punctuated by uncertainties and anxieties, liberation from outdated habits of mind, shared commitment, and anticipation of ECE’s new era will fuel our pioneering work. Nearly every facet of the field’s work is experiencing change. Whether to change is not an option. ECE will continue to change. We can step forward as a field of practice and shape what the change looks like or prepare ourselves to be changed by others. Left for us to decide is: Whose vision will drive the field’s future? Three Conversational Forms As you’ll recall, three conversational forms have been identified: dialogue, skilled discussion, and balanced advocacy. These conversational forms can assist the field with examining its mental models and understanding ECE’s systemic patterns from multiple perspectives. They also can help generate options for structuring ECE as a professional field of practice. A systems-thinking term, mental models “are deeply ingrained assumptions, gen- eralizations, or even pictures or images that influence how we understand the world and how we take action.” 33 When dealing with complex, interdependent issues, individual and collective mental models can often block change. Conse- quently, guidance offered by this book focuses on increasing self-awareness of our individual and field-wide mental models. Peter Senge, Hal Hamilton, and John Kania identify fostering reflection and generative conversations as a core capability of systems leaders. 34 They also classify creating space for change and enabling the emergence of collective intelligence as one of three core capabili- ties of system leadership. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 12  |   CHAPTER ONE Comparing dialogue, skilled discussion, and balanced advocacy can further our understanding of these three conversational forms as well as their contributions to what henceforth will be called conversations with intent. • Dialogue involves a process of reflection and collective inquiry. It differs from other conversational forms by offering a means for creating shared understanding that is born from multiple perspectives on an issue and disentangling the essence of choices. It is founded on (1) slowing down our thinking processes to become more aware of our mental models, (2) asking questions to explore what one doesn’t know or understand, and (3) seeking to understand what others see and understand that differs from our point of view. Dialogue takes the energy that comes from understanding differ- ent assumptions and channels it toward something never before created. The potential for thinking together emerges when our grip loosens on personal positions, allowing new possibilities to emerge, possibilities that might otherwise not have been given the space to develop. In conjunction with skilled discussion, dialogue offers the ECE field a means for going be- yond assumptions and beliefs historically saturated with disagreements and imagining new options for achieving common purpose. • Skilled discussion helps dialogue move to action. Typical discussions revolve around sharing one’s perspectives, providing an exchange of information. When skilled discussion is used in conjunction with dialogue, however, a conversation can move from exploring underlying causes and assumptions to reaching closure. The primary distinction between dialogue and discussion is intention. Dia- logue is about exploration, discovery, and insight. Skilled discussion, although reliant on dialogue, shifts conversations toward closure and agreement. • Balanced advocacy involves speaking for one’s point of view. When not balanced, it’s often associated with a speaker’s attempts to persuade others to accept her or his viewpoint and typically presumes the “rightness” of the position being advocated. While change processes require passionate ad- vocates, passion can be polarizing, especially when advocates are not open to rethinking their viewpoints. When a stance excludes those not sharing the position being advocated, others can become defensive and feel pushed COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET MOVING EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION FORWARD  |   13 into protecting their position rather than opening their minds to explore different views and possibilities. By opening an assertion’s conclusions and assumptions to public testing, though, advocacy can contribute to conversations with intent. When expressed as a clear, calm statement accompanied by the speaker’s assump- tions, balanced advocacy can help anchor a conversation and contribute to the process of learning from one another. The inherent challenge is tem- pering advocacy with inquiry. 35 Getting to Desired Results through Conversations with Intent When the ECE field began bringing a systemic lens to its work, it often described itself as a nonsystem because of its occupational fragmentation and limited infra- structure. Now more knowledgeable about systems, we realize ECE always has been a system, just not one that can be described as cohesive or as functioning coherently since it lacks binding interconnections that derive from a common function or purpose. To ensure that last statement was understood, let’s make sure each of us knows how a system is defined. A system has three kinds of things: elements, interconnections, and a function or purpose. A nonsystem, therefore, is a conglomeration of things without interconnections or a shared function. 36 An example of a nonsystem would be sand scat- tered on a road by happenstance and therefore lacking in intercon- nections and also absent a shared purpose or function. 37 A system’s behaviors are the result of the structures that created them. Now compare this example with ECE’s configuration as a field of practice: a system of connections disjointed by lack of clarity regarding purpose, identity, or responsibility. 38 Finally, compare these last two examples with professional fields of practice: interconnected and interdependent systems of preparation, practice, and accountability bound together by common purpose. As systems thinkers, we are learning that a system’s behaviors result from the structures that created them. Often invisible, systemic structures are patterns of interconnections among a system’s key elements. As Donella Meadows puts it, “The behavior of a system cannot be known just by knowing the elements of which the system is made.” 39 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 14  |   CHAPTER ONE These insights help us recognize that ECE’s fragmented status as a field of prac- tice, underdeveloped workforce, and uneven promotion of learning and develop- ment in early learning settings result from the way in which the field’s systemic elements are interconnected. The current connections among ECE’s systemic elements are clearly not well serving children, families, or society. Current connections among ECE’s systemic elements are clearly not well serving children, families, or society. ECE has always been a system. There always have been connec- tions among its parts, but their interrelationships no longer are adequate in the context of the field’s new realities. Only restructuring the current system can remedy the consequences being experienced by the field and those dependent upon it. 40 Organizing ECE as a professional field of practice restructures ECE’s current occu- pational configuration, allowing the field’s tough challenge to be tackled at a systemic level responsive to its complexity. ABOUT THIS BOOK I think Professionalizing Early Childhood Education As a Field of Practice: A Guide to the Next Era has the potential to be historically meaningful for ECE as a field of practice. Throughout its history in the United States—using the kindergarten movement as my marker for the onset of ECE as a field of practice—ECE has evolved haphazardly. Sheldon White and Steve Buka described the field’s de- velopment prior to the creation of Head Start as a research and development sequence. 41 Different versions of ECE emerged from practical needs, private and government projects, and insights from philosophy, educational ideologies, and utopian programs. Since Head Start, the field’s evolution has been characterized by expanding programs and policies, galvanized then, as now, by the potential for social change. Bernard Spodek and Herbert Walberg called this period an era of abundance. 42 Then in the 1990s, driven by the field’s expansion, particu- larly the growing numbers of children in child care, systems development took precedence over program development. Now, twenty-five years later, the ECE field is still grappling with creating systems that meaningfully affect the caliber of children’s early learning experiences. This is not the first time the question of professionalizing ECE as a field of prac- tice has arisen, 43 but this does seem to be the first time the question is getting trac- COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET MOVING EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION FORWARD  |   15 tion. Anointing this book with historical significance likely overstates the moment. Yet it’s nonetheless noteworthy that for the first time the field is expressing an openness to confronting the gap between its aspirations and its current realities. There appears to be growing willingness to acknowledge that the systems chang- es ahead require making hard choices that to date have largely been evaded. This may truly be a defining moment for ECE as a field of practice. Entering Uncharted Water ECE has become typified by its outward focus: building public awareness and expanding public and policy support to address the systemic consequences of its explosive growth and to plug weaknesses increasingly being magnified, as limita- tions of the field’s current occupational structure are revealed in the face of new realities. Yet despite massive efforts and investments since the 1990s directed to- ward building statewide ECE systems, consequential change has been elusive. The time has come for an inward focus and effecting change from inside out. 44 Early educators’ crucial role in effecting children’s positive learning and develop- ment has been empirically confirmed. It’s no longer possible to ignore the nega- tive consequences stemming from inconsistencies in practitioners’ knowledge and skills. The ECE field needs to step forward, act on its convictions, and engage with what should be its work: structuring ECE as a profession capable of preparing and supporting practitioners who consistently contribute to children’s optimum learning and development regardless of setting, sponsor, or funding stream. The journey begins with conversations that explore possibilities for restructuring ECE, confronting choices that await us, and moving forward. This book presents questions along with guidance for conversations with the inten- tion of creating shared meaning to inform an alternative future for The journey begins ECE as a professional field of practice. By offering an approach for with conversations that transcending fragmented thinking and enabling ECE’s outlines as explore possibilities . . . a profession to emerge, conversations with intent will launch the field’s first collective action in service to restructuring ECE as a field of practice. Collective leadership will be required to structure ECE as a profession. While we can learn from other professions’ experiences, ECE is entering into uncharted ter- ritory. As a starting point, we need to become more deeply aware of the systems COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 16  |   CHAPTER ONE of which we are a part. We also must develop dispositions and skills for engaging with colleagues to imagine an alternative future for ECE. Engaging with Systems-Defining Questions The work starts with scrutinizing our individual and field-wide mental models. By changing our mental models, we can alter our relationship to change. 45 By expanding our grasp of systemic relationship possibilities, we extend our potential to think differently. Simultaneously, conversations with intent will ripen the field’s readiness to move beyond the status quo. 46 While an increasing number of us endorse the need to restructure ECE’s present configuration, its urgency has yet to be recognized by the ECE field as a whole. This book steers the field’s collective inquiry toward five overarching questions whose answers are fundamental to advancing ECE as a professional field of practice: 1. What major choices will be required to move ECE forward as a profession? Are we prepared as a field of practice to make those choices? 2. What principles or values should guide the formation of ECE as a profes- sional field of practice? 3. What options are available for ECE’s structure as a professional field of practice? 4. What should be the starting place(s) for structuring ECE as a profession? 5. What else do we need to know to move forward? Who else can we be learning from? HOW TO USE THIS BOOK This first chapter has summarized both the reasoning and need for moving ECE into its next era. It identifies the field’s tough challenge and why addressing it matters. It explains why conversations with intent should be the field’s first step toward developing a shared agenda for systems change. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET MOVING EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION FORWARD  |   17 Yet the conversations promoted by this book will succeed only if we remember that the three conversational forms I’m advocating differ from our usual forms of conversing. They are designed to foster insights into the tough challenge we are trying to solve and to accelerate the availability of actionable knowledge. Chapter 2, Thinking Alone, invites us to begin our preparation with internally oriented questions directed toward developing awareness of our mental models: • how we as individuals are contributing to ECE’s system as it now exists; • how we may inadvertently be blocking our and others’ openness to differ- ent ways of thinking; and • priming us for participation in systemically oriented conversations geared toward generating new possibilities. Deeper self-knowledge and openness to others’ thinking will broaden our under- standing of ECE as a field of practice. This much-needed expansion of under- standing comes from opening ourselves to other’s perspectives, concerns, and aspirations for our field. Conversation by conversation, newly forged insights and exploration of different possibilities will create an entryway into future delibera- tions and decision making. Integral to this next step is forging consensus that, yes, the time has arrived for coming together as a field to structure ECE as an organized profession. And yes, we will join together on a scale commensurate with our challenge and commit to serving something larger than ourselves. As already noted, this is not the first time the question of professionalizing ECE has arisen, although perhaps never quite so directly. 47 Are we willing to confront our individual and collective biases about ECE as a field of practice? Are we capable of joining together to coevolve a different reality for ECE? Are we ready to steer ECE toward a future in line with its potential? The purpose of conversa- tions with intent is to probe our thinking in ways that set the stage for collective creativity and action. The questions presented in chapter 2 (Thinking Alone) will help you examine your personal beliefs and values, the locale of your resistance to change, and your fears for what may be lost, personally and as a field. By engaging with these questions prior to coming together with colleagues to explore ques- tions posed in chapter 3, you will contribute to making these conversations far richer and more productive. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 18  |   CHAPTER ONE Formally structuring ECE as a profession will prompt trepidations, 48 and exploring these concerns is essential to building internal cohesion, surfacing fresh possibil- ities, and sustaining the trajectory set for ECE’s future. The questions posed in chapter 3, Thinking Together, attempt to bring our diverse, and often divisive, views to the forefront. As Heifetz alerts us, clarifying what matters most, in what balance, and with what trade-offs will be a central task of our work. 49 The final chapter, Supporting Successful Conversations with Intent, offers sug- gestions related to convening, hosting, and facilitating conversations with intent. For readers interested in deepening their expertise beyond what is offered here, resources are identified in the chapter note attached to this sentence. 50 This book is relevant and timely for a wide audience. It will be of special interest to readers and conversation participants who will experience the greatest change in role and responsibilities once ECE professionalizes. This includes teachers who on a daily basis interact with children in early learning settings, administrators who create working conditions supportive of effective practice, and others such as higher education faculty, trainers, and professional development providers who promote the knowledge, skills, and dispositions essential to teachers’ and adminis- trators’ competence. Individuals in any of these roles can also convene groups to explore the questions outlined in chapter 3. Already, individuals in these various roles are convening study groups or engaging colleagues at their places of work or at state and local meetings. Other conversation hosts, although not limited to them, include the field’s prominent national associations and their affiliated organizations. Yes, courage and risk-taking will be required for the work ahead. Yet bypassing this call to restructure ECE as a field of practice would mean forsaking ECE’s ob- ligations to children, families, and itself as a field of practice. Heifetz would likely label this choice resistance to change or work avoidance. 51 I’m hoping this interpretation is mistaken. The next step is ours to take. Shall we start the conversation? COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET LEADERSHIP / PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT The question isn’t if early childhood education will change, but rather who will lead the change. Early childhood education has struggled to fulfill its promise as a field of practice. Professionalizing Early Childhood Education As a Field of Practice is an invitation to participate in conversations with intent. These conversations encourage participants to explore structuring ECE as a professional field of practice. This is a defining moment for ECE. Creating a different future for the field requires addressing thorny issues and working through challenging choices. The next step is yours to take— join the conversation! “The field should embrace it and begin the work to ‘change from inside out’ and become a true profession.” —Laura Bornfreund, Deputy Director, Early Education Initiative at New America “Stacie Goffin makes a strong case to confront the hard questions that divide the early childhood field of practice. She’s right.” —Matthew E. Melmed, Executive Director, ZERO TO THREE “Few can any longer deny that ECE’s fragmentation is hurtful to children and to ECE as a field of practice. Fulfilling the aspirations of ECE, though, requires that we enter into the conversations Goffin proposes. Kudos to her for preparing this guide for our journey.” —Pamela Winton, PhD, Senior Scientist and Director of Outreach, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill STACIE G. GOFFIN is a widely recognized authority in early childhood education with a passion for raising the competence of ECE as a field of practice. Goffin currently serves as the Principal of the Goffin Strategies Group, where she uses her extensive experience to improve the effectiveness of programs and services for young children through leadership, capacity, and systems development. She is also the author of Early Childhood Education for a New Era: Leading for Our Profession. ISBN 978-1-60554-434-2 1313 L Street NW, Suite 500 Washington, DC 20005-4101 NAEYC Item #7232 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL $21.95