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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET Introduction 9 Problem: There Is No Program Infrastructure to Support Teachers’ Reflective Practice The culture of most early childhood programs reflects an insidious mentality of compliance and scarcity. Teachers are viewed as technicians accountable to an ever-growing body of standards and curriculum content. Simultaneously, budgets for teaching staff are carefully limited to meeting ratios with children and adhering to labor laws. Most accredited pro- grams give teachers paid time for weekly planning and annual professional development opportunities. While this is a step in the right direction, it is hardly adequate for teachers to do their job well. Our earlier book The Visionary Director offers numerous ideas for creating a program that goes beyond meeting requirements or delivering curriculum to children. In today’s education world, with increasing emphasis on standards and outcomes, a bigger vision can seem like pie in the sky. Sometimes, the force of one person or small team can push a vision forward, but without an infrastructure to support the actual work of living into a vision, sustainability is difficult. Teachers and administrators burn out, become cyn- ical, or give up. Moving a program toward the cur- riculum approach proposed in this book requires a close examination of your organizational culture and suggests a new approach to your professional devel- opment. It isn’t appropriate to just require teachers to start adopting some new practices. To support teacher efforts and ongoing professional growth, organizational systems, policies, and distribution of resources will likely need some realignment. Admin- istrative roles and coaching offered through quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS) or public funding systems should be designed to offer not only technical assistance but pedagogical guidance with protocols to engage teachers in reflection. Problem: Teachers and Programs Are Required to Adopt Quantifiable “Research-Based” Curricula Teachers have a range of curriculum models to choose from, many of which address current edu- cational thrusts and policies aimed at measurable learning outcomes. Increasingly, programs find man- dates requiring them to adopt a quantifiable, scien- tific, “research-based” curriculum. These mandates should prompt us to ask questions such as these: Who are the researchers? What is their cultural framework? What research methodology and mea- surement tools were used? Is there any one research methodology that is reliable for all children (NAEYC 2007)? Thanks to the work of the educators of Reggio Emilia, many early childhood teachers in the United States are being encouraged to see themselves as researchers (Meier and Henderson 2007; Gallas 1994). In light of this possibility, why would anyone adopt a curriculum that gives a script for teachers to follow? In contrast, Daniel Meier and Barbara Hen- derson (2007) suggest that teacher education involv- ing teacher research holds great promise for improv- ing reflective practices. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) now includes a focus on teacher research on the Voices of Practitioners menu of their website. We find value in curriculum models that are environmentally based, see children as active learners, offer children choices, encourage teach- ers to build curriculum from children’s interests, and use ongoing observations with a focus on COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL