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Staff Labels for Power to the Profession

  • 1.  Staff Labels for Power to the Profession

    Posted 03-06-2019 01:37 PM
    As an assessor, I am in a lot of different classroom types. It just hit me today that in "school settings" children and families typically call the teacher by their last name (Mrs. Smith). However, in licensed child care settings, the adult is typically called by their first name, sometimes with a Miss (Miss Andrea). Perhaps one of the practices that will help to professionalize our field is the use of proper last names for ALL adults who work with children? Just a suggestion.

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    Andrea Zabel
    Quality Measurement Specialist
    Maryland EXCELS
    Towson MD
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  • 2.  RE: Staff Labels for Power to the Profession

    Posted 03-06-2019 09:35 PM
    I don't think using first names in early childhood centers is any less professional or a mark against professionalism. What sets professionals apart is their ability to speak about their knowledge of child development with parents and community members. I wish it were only as easy as putting a Ms., Mrs., or  Miss (or Mr.) in front of a last name to give power to the profession. Educating the community about the importance of the first five years is where I believe we will gain acknowledgement of the importance of our role in the lives of young children and families. Ms. Nina or just Nina is fine (Mentor Teacher and Director)

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    Nina Betonte
    Little Sunshine House
    Long Beach CA
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  • 3.  RE: Staff Labels for Power to the Profession

    Posted 03-07-2019 08:04 AM
    I believe whole hardheartedly that ECE teachers need to be well educated in early childhood  and parents need to be educated on the importance of child development! That is the goal as we bring power to the profession. However, perception is reality to people, so I do think having our ECE staff go by their last names would change the perception families have of our staff. It would be a small step, but a very impact step in my opinion. My concern would be that some centers and families might think it is too formal, and takes away from the "family like" atmosphere in our centers. Just like with anything else there are pros and cons. I am very thankful that these discussions are taking place, so we as a ECE community can work together to brainstorms ideas to move us into the right direction.

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    Elizabeth Smith
    TEACH Counsolor
    DEAEYC
    Newark DE
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  • 4.  RE: Staff Labels for Power to the Profession

    Posted 03-07-2019 10:12 AM
    I find both of your perceptions extremely interesting. I am wondering if this also has to do with the culture within each of these professions. In my personal experience, ECE programs often times interact with families on a daily basis in a face to face format. In these ECE programs, families are providing transportation, volunteering, and often having regular contact with the teachers. In the K-12 system, there is a bit of a barrier from my perceptiong. Families are not as much as an everyday presence in the building walking into classrooms and engaging with the staff face to face daily. Does the difference in the type of interaction breed greater familiarity which then lends itself to less formal names? I am not sure I have a preference one way or the other, but I find both of your reflections exciting and worth some additional thought. I also wonder if formality creates barriers for families to engage and be authentic?

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    Pamela Perrino
    Early Childhood Advocate and Educational consultant
    Perrino Consulting
    Warren OH
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  • 5.  RE: Staff Labels for Power to the Profession

    Posted 03-08-2019 07:42 AM
    I agree with your take. In most ECE centers, there are fewer barriers between families and teachers. The public school setting often puts up "firewalls" where it is difficult for parents to have face-to-face interaction with teachers and administrators without formal arrangements.

    I did not mind being called by my first name and the parents in our cooperative did not mind me calling them by their first names.

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    Nora Krieger
    Associate Professor Emerita/ Chair NJEEPRE
    Bloomfield College/ New Jersey Educators Exploring the Practices of Reggio Emilia
    Highland Park NJ
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  • 6.  RE: Staff Labels for Power to the Profession

    Posted 03-08-2019 09:37 AM
    I honestly have to agree that whether you use first names or last names does not make a difference.  It is the qualifications and the professionalism that you exhibit.  Whether a teacher goes by Mrs. Brown or Mrs. Mary does not make a difference.  Most of the times, for my name the children have a hard enough time with my first name never mind my last name.  As far as the parents go, I think if you show that you are knowledgeable in child development and what is appropriate and best for their children at the stage that they are in, that will develop respect and professionalism.  When you partner with the parents, to help an guide them if they need support.  Providing them with the resources etc. will let them know that you are professional.  I also think first names are important.  I am pursuing my bachelors degree and some of my professors prefer to be called by their first names, I do not have any less respect for them.

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    Stephanie DeScalzo
    Behavior Coach
    Winter Park Day Nursery
    Winter Park FL
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  • 7.  RE: Staff Labels for Power to the Profession

    Posted 03-08-2019 07:38 PM
    Yes, it certainly has cultural roots and expressions.  Some communities refer to teachers as "Maestra" (hope I spelled it correctly) and not by name, almost like you might say "Doctor, is this healing?"  In the South children are often taught to use Miss or Mr before the name of any adult, teacher or not.  The history of Southern racism reminds me that these "small matters" can convey big messages and have huge effects.

    It doesn't ever surprise me that a kindergarten student or elementary student who insists on referring to adults by their first name only usually has power struggles with authority figures.  I have seen that children who speak/act disrespectfully to their parents often refer to them by first name only.

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    Mars April Caulton
    Teacher & Teaching Artist
    Chicago IL
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  • 8.  RE: Staff Labels for Power to the Profession

    Posted 03-08-2019 07:38 AM
    My children went to a cooperative nursery school and I was the Director of the school later for nine years. We used first names, not only for the teachers but with the parents who were helping in the classroom. It had no effect on whether children were respectful or whether parents approached the teachers as professionals. Using last names in public schools or primary grade levels is just a habit that was developed a long time ago. We are a less formal society today.

    Parents evaluated the teachers, not by whether they were called by their first names, but how effective they were, which included how they felt the teachers treated their child. Not all the teachers were that skillful and the parents recognized that. The use of first names was unrelated to respectful behavior from families.

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    Nora Krieger
    Associate Professor Emerita/ Chair NJEEPRE
    Bloomfield College/ New Jersey Educators Exploring the Practices of Reggio Emilia
    Highland Park NJ
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  • 9.  RE: Staff Labels for Power to the Profession

    Posted 03-09-2019 04:58 AM
    I believe first names are appropriate and professional.  I have gone by my first name throughout my profession as a teacher and director and have always felt deeply respected and appreciated as an educator.  As first teachers, we have a distinct role in the lives of children and families during the unique period of life - early childhood.  Seeing ourselves as professionals must come from the inside out - in valuing our unique role as early childhood teachers - not in trying to emulate public school teachers.  Many poor practices have crept into our profession with the notion that we would become more professional if we acted like public school teachers.  I am thinking of inappropriate practices like limiting play time, doing worksheets, covering our walls with calendars, sight words and days of the week, and only thinking that we are "teaching" when we are sitting in front of kids pointing to charts or reading books.  Our classrooms are the first social experience outside of home and our environments should be as comfortable and home like as possible.  Imagine how amazing our elementary schools, high schools and colleges would be if teachers could look to us as professional models and strive to include more warmth, play, conversation, listening, experiential learning, homelike environments and care in their practices and institutions.

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    Carol Murray
    Bard Nursery School
    Red Hook NY
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  • 10.  RE: Staff Labels for Power to the Profession

    Posted 03-10-2019 11:02 AM
    As a family child care provider I have worked very hard to make my clients feel like family while their children are in my care.  Just as I would not call my sister by her last name, I wouldn't address my families this way.  To me, it discards the 'family' part of family child care.  I am Wendy, my students are Joey, and Sarah, their parents are Andrea and Ian.  (Real names not used).

    Do do I have an education in ECE?  Yes, I have my bachelors degree.

    To me, family child care is different than center based care because we can be more familiar, and in my opinion, more nurturing because we have smaller groups and our staff stays the same for longer periods of time.  I have had the same full time assistant for over 14 years.  We get to know the children, their families and even their extended families sometimes.

    This is makes me no less of a professional that being called Miss Wendy or Miss Buzzell.  It is my preference and has been since 1997.  My daycare is always full to capacity and there is always a waiting list.

    What makes me a professional is what hat and how I teach the children who I care for.  Not what I am called...that part is a preference.

    Thanks for reading...

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    Wendy Buzzell
    Teacher
    Peek~A~Boo! Home Day Care
    Southborough MA
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  • 11.  RE: Staff Labels for Power to the Profession

    Posted 03-10-2019 11:37 AM
    Thank you Wendy for doing such important work in our society! I found someone like you when my first born was a baby - a professional who provided a loving education for my child in her home with a few other children as well as her own. I loved dropping him off and being greeted by the family dog.  I treasured the home atmosphere.

    I think centers and institutions should be more like homes. Home is a model we should all emulate. Nel Nodding, the amazing educational philosopher has written extensively about how care is missing from middle school, high school and college curriculums and how desperately older children need domestic home-like experiences to shape them into compassionate empathetic humans.  The nature of good education is relational.

    Perhaps when we break free from the model of domination, and top-down learning, all teachers will be called by their first names!


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    Carol Murray
    Bard Nursery School
    Red Hook NY
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  • 12.  RE: Staff Labels for Power to the Profession

    Posted 03-11-2019 04:37 PM
    I'll add another couple of cents here.  I was a teacher for 30+ years in child care centers and was always called by my first name, as were the other teachers, administrators, and the parents.  It feels most comfortable to me and doesn't at all seem unprofessional.  Additionally, my sone attended a K-8 public school where the teachers and administrators were all called by their first names.  The students and the parents didn't think they were unprofessional and there was a tremendous amount of respect between students, teachers, and parents.  I think it put the kids at ease and when children can relax around adults they respect them just as much or more than if they are at an authoritative remove.

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    Aren Stone
    Child Development Specialist
    The Early Years Project
    Cambridge, MA
    she/her
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  • 13.  RE: Staff Labels for Power to the Profession

    Posted 03-13-2019 09:57 PM
    Carol,

    Your point is well-taken! Not only has "care" been taken out of education for school-age children but it is also disappearing from Early Childhood. For example the Power to the Profession recommendation for the appropriate term for this work no longer includes the word "Care" as in Early Care and Education. The recommended term for adults who support children and families is "educator". I am concerned that when we change the words we use to identify ourselves, we change the focus of our work. The term "educator" for me implies a focus on academics. I don't want ECE professionals to abandon the focus on nurturing in an effort to earn respect. I believe we can earn respect without having to choose between one focus or the other. We can have both care AND education.

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    Linda Boss
    Instructor
    University of WI - Platteville
    Lewistown PA
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  • 14.  RE: Staff Labels for Power to the Profession

    Posted 03-14-2019 06:39 AM
      |   view attached
    Dear Linda,
    Thank you for this comment and for recognizing the central importance of care.  I am with you - we can't let care be hidden in our practice.  I believe we need to claim CARE as central to our pedagogy and be proud of our unique identity as first teachers. Care and education must be united. How much of our day do we spend in caring rituals? Snack, lunch, toileting, dressing, naps, rubbing backs, holding hands? This is where our role in the lives of children, families, society is most powerful! Why should we deny this part of ourselves? Care is Education!

    20 years ago, our professional organizations were avoiding the word play.  I think slowly it has become acceptable to call play what it is - play! Slowly we've come to celebrate play and have found ways to show the value of play.   I hope the same thing happens with care. I love the word care and I believe that many of us have found our niche in this field because of the focus on care - it is what we do well, but because care has been traditionally a woman's work and often an unpaid and unappreciated part of our work - it has been invisible.  We haven't been able to name it.  We shouldn't make the mistake of trying to be something we are not (elementary school teachers). We have a unique identity and central to that identity is CARE!

    It is a really important time in our society to talk about the power of care and also to look to other disciplines beyond the teaching profession to define care as the back bone of a strong society.  I think Magda Gerber called her schools Educare centers. She saw the need to unite care and education. She was well ahead of her time and I do believe that keeping the word care present and visible in all we do is truly revolutionary work. We've got to advocate for care whenever we can instead of hiding it.  I would love to see our field tap into the extensive body of research and philosophy in care ethics as a way to elevate care as a unique pedagogy.

    What should we call ourselves? Still, I like to call myself a teacher.  I believe we are teachers. We are first teachers. We are educators who care with excellence.  I like the word teacher best because we are not technicians or providers. To care well we need to individualize, make decisions, think, and act with high ethics and sensitivity.  Our work is dynamic. It requires special knowledge and skill and intelligence to care with excellence.
    Carol

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    Carol Murray
    Bard Nursery School
    Red Hook NY
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    Attachment(s)



  • 15.  RE: Staff Labels for Power to the Profession

    Posted 03-14-2019 07:31 AM
    It is sad that the term "educator" has taken on the association of being related only to academics. I understand why these labels have been suggested in Power to the Profession. Just as in any profession, labels imply knowledge. The profession must move away from the popular view that anyone can do this work and that it is, at best, glorified babysitting.

    I just read an article where it was pointed out that the administrators in a school were moving their least effective teachers down to the kindergarten level because they would not have an impact. The assumption behind that action is that what happens with the younger children is inconsequential to not only their development but their learning. We must break this cycle of thinking and association that it does not take any knowledge or skill to teach our youngest children.

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    Nora Krieger
    Associate Professor Emerita/ Chair NJEEPRE
    Bloomfield College/ New Jersey Educators Exploring the Practices of Reggio Emilia
    Highland Park NJ
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  • 16.  RE: Staff Labels for Power to the Profession

    Posted 03-14-2019 07:57 PM
    Social-emotional Learning IS education. Those professionals who have studied child development and philosophies of how to guide children's building of knowledge  should remain Educators. Their is nothing about the words Teacher and Educator to imply strictly academics. 

    Teachers must always care about their students, yes, and provide the caring, safe environment that supports whole child development. But calling us  Caregivers does return our image back to a broad, vague sense of babysitting, nannies etc. Those roles are also important, and they absolutely do teach. They are not the same, however, as trained, highly educated and experienced Educators.






  • 17.  RE: Staff Labels for Power to the Profession

    Posted 03-14-2019 09:46 PM
    Wow - this conversation has taken so many twists and turns and I love hearing everyone's story and perspective. I am very proud to be in the company of so many caring thinking early childhood teachers.

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    Carol Murray
    Bard Nursery School
    Red Hook NY
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  • 18.  RE: Staff Labels for Power to the Profession

    Posted 03-15-2019 05:43 PM
    Early Childhood Education is a profession and as such we need to be treated as professionals.  It doesn't matter what children/parents/families call us or what we call ourselves as long as we are treated with respect including professional pay for educating/caring for our greatest resource:  our children.  The word education should encompass all areas and all domains because when children are supported in all areas they function and learn to the best of their abilities.  If any area is ignored then children are not reaching their potential.  This is especially true of early education when children are growing and developing at a fast rate in a short time span.  But it is also true of all levels of education.  Severely missing from our elementary, middle and high school classrooms is  nurturing and caring and a deeper understanding of child development at all levels.  Everything seems to be about the test and the data lately.  Even in early childhood settings.

    I do work/teach in a public school based preschool center that serves about 500 children.  Our curriculum is first and foremost socially and emotionally supportive to all children.  We are able to embed learning in all domains into their daily routines.  We do a very nice job of trying to make our classrooms welcoming and supportive for all families but at the same time balancing the security issues present in today's society.  We have staff who have been in the classroom including teachers and assistants for 10, 15, 20 or more years.  Our families often request the same teachers for their children. I believe that we provide just as much nurturing and caring as many family child care programs and I believe that many child care centers are able to do the same.  I also believe that there are many child care centers, family care programs and public school based programs that do not provide developmentally appropriate nurturing and caring environments for children.  I think that what NAEYC and NJAEYC are trying to do is uplift the profession, educate the public and help develop ways that we can all learn how to provide the most appropriate programs for all our children in all types of centers.

    I think these conversations are very helpful and show that there are many ways, not just one, to provide early childhood education that is developmentally appropriate to support all our children in all areas of development.

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    Theresa Hurley
    Medford Lakes NJ
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  • 19.  RE: Staff Labels for Power to the Profession

    Posted 03-17-2019 12:08 PM
    Hello All,

    Thank you for this powerful and thought-provoking discussion.  I came in at about post 18 and am loving it.  I definitely support the use of Early Care and Education, but do like the term Early Childhood Educator for a teacher of birth to age 8 young children regardless of setting.  One of my favorite moments of my work year last year was when the assistant superintendent of schools called me an educator in a group of public school teachers and administrators.  The value judgements, sense of division and low self worth we sometimes experience working in service to young children and families in relation to the K-12 community were obliterated for that moment.  Thank you!

    The deep knowledge and practice of relationship-based care which supports ALL future learning for children is not any less important when we are called by our first names by children and families, however.  Who would force a toddler to call them Mrs. Kenyon?  Do I prefer the term educator more because I began as a bachelor degreed, licensed teacher for pre-K to third grade?  Maybe.

    With regard to the Southern cultural practice, which spans racial and ethnic identities, of calling adults Mr. and Ms., the answer is clear to me.  I do not know a single person raised in our rural community who would allow their child to call an adult community member by their first only.  This brings us back to meeting people where THEY are in true best practice family engagement and allowing families to use whatever for us that feels comfortable to them.

    Thank you for the opportunity to share!

    ------------------------------
    Emily Kenyon
    Early Childhood Technical Assistance Specialist
    Children & Youth Partnership
    Manteo NC
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  • 20.  RE: Staff Labels for Power to the Profession

    Posted 03-17-2019 01:27 PM
    I have so enjoyed following this conversation. I find it interesting the passion and perception of each of you. I have been in our profession for over thirty years and have watched this conversation flow from left to right. When I was young, I was greatly influenced by my interactions with Magda Gerber early in my career.  I loved the term Educarer (someone who is educating).  I was passionate about this term as I worked as an infant and toddler teacher with little to no respect from our field and society. I then switched to facilitator of education. As I felt it conveyed my practice of observing the children, analyzing their interactions and needs, and then responding by adjusting the environment to follow their interest. The entire time I was known as "Miss. Pam" by staff, children, and family. I have moved forward to now work with adult learners to better help them to work with children. I still prefer Professor Pam rather than Professor Perrino.
    I was looking back at the choices of terminology I chose. I realize that it evolved with my growth, but remained constant in my personal preference. I think this is a critical conversation moving forward as we reflect on the decision cycles within in Power to the Profession. In the decision cycle, fifteen national organization, thirty-five stakeholder groups, and professionals from the field agreed to use the term Early Childhood Educator to recognize the professional working in the profession of Early Childhood Education. If we can decide to use these terms to identify our professionals and our profession and leave an individual choice for first names and titles up to the culture of the different programs, then we can begin to speak as one voice to move our work forward as a profession.
    I  appreciate the respect and diversity of conversation in this discussion thread. It makes me proud to call all of you my colleagues in our profession of Early Childhood Education.
    Wishing you all well as you advocate for your profession,
    Pam
    Professional Relations Coordinator and P2P Advocate
    Ohio AEYC


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    Pamela Perrino
    Professional Relations Coordinator and P2P Advocate
    Ohio AEYC
    Warren OH
    ------------------------------



  • 21.  RE: Staff Labels for Power to the Profession

    Posted 03-17-2019 06:47 PM
    Hi Emily,
    You make excellent points! I like the terms early educator and teacher best as well. 

    I think as a profession, we can do better at starting to show more images of teachers in caring roles - teachers sitting on the floor, teachers helping children separate from their parents, teaching helping children wash their hands.  

    Yes, especially about cultural practices and sensitivity to racial and ethnic identities and different ways of showing respect and viewing childhood and teaching.  I taught in the South, in Florida for several years where most children called me Ms. Carol.

    I have really enjoyed this conversation too!
    Carol 








  • 22.  RE: Staff Labels for Power to the Profession

    Posted 03-18-2019 02:52 AM
    For interest sake: In South Africa, the term in use for persons in the ECD (Early Childhood Development) sector, is "educator" when she/he is a tertiary qualified person. When the person is not tertiary qualified, she/he is a "practitioner". It is actually still the most popular use of "teacher" so-and-so that prevails in both cases. The field is called "educare" indicating educational care-giving which describes the 2 sides of the pre-school well.
    Educators and practitioners alike are thus called, in most cases "miss" or "teacher" with the first name following. It is still every ECD center's own preference how teachers are called. The head of the center is a principal (director) and she/he is often called "miss" followed by the surname.
    Sophie





  • 23.  RE: Staff Labels for Power to the Profession

    Posted 03-20-2019 08:18 PM
    Sent from my iPhone




  • 24.  RE: Staff Labels for Power to the Profession

    Posted 03-18-2019 07:46 AM
    Thanks for all the insights! Feels like there are two different but related discussions happening on this thread, and I would love to contribute to both! I did not even recognize how much I wanted to add to the discussion.
    First, what do we call our profession or role? Educator, teacher, early childhood practitioner? This is fascinating, and maybe looking into the journey other professions have taken in seeking greater status, pay and understanding for their professions, such as from secretary to administrator or from janitor to custodian? I have found myself struggle with titles for our profession: is there a difference between a preschool teacher and a daycare worker? What about people who work with older children in aftercare programs? I often feel nervous asking for teacher discounts- almost apologetic, "yes, I am a teacher, but not in the public schools, I teach preschool." Most often, I do get the discount, but some times I am told the "teacher discount program" is just for public school teachers...
    I have a BA from UMN with a major of Child Development, and an MA with thesis in Human Development  from UMD.  My area of study was aimed at research and undergraduate and graduate teachering. I was fortunate to be able to choose to be a stay at home mom, but honestly, the demands of finishing my PhD and working at a university while cared for my 2 children terrified me, and I felt leaping out into the workforce with my masters degree would never land me a job that could pay enough for the quality of care I wanted for my children... I struggled with thoughts about re-entering the workforce at a pay level that my education level required, and just sort of floundered, extending my time at home. Eventually, my children's old preschool reached out to me, they desperately needed qualified substitutes. After a year subbing at the preschool, they asked me to take an assistant teacher position. It is a small, faith-based preschool with a tradition of recruiting parents to become teachers.  Entering as an assistant teacher was somewhat difficult and painful for me, as my first experience working with young children was in a similar capacity when I was just twenty years old, and that work experience led me to seek a degree in child development at the UMN.  During my many years in college, internships and graduate school, I have studied and worked with researchers at the top of the field such as working in the labs of Ken Rubin, Steve Porgess, Steven Suomi, and Megan Gunar, and taking graduate courses with Nathan Fox, Jude Cassidy, Charles Nelson, Melanie Killian and many other great researchers and teachers. I have found my education often more of a barrier than a blessing in the classroom setting, as my colleagues do not see me as having any better insights into teaching than their experience has given them. I also agree that in our field in particular, some one may graduate at the top levels and yet lack valuable hands on experience that is intrigul to field! Yet I cringe and caff each time I hear colleagues downplay the importance of research-informed curricula, or get told "teachers are not qualified to diagnos" and I " don't know for sure" that a child should be screened by a professional for the possibility of developmental issues or delays when I documented red flags. I find I am often "walking" in two worlds," research and practice, but have a home in neither. Since the conference last Nov., NAEYC has become my home and haven, where I find amazing colleagues at all levels of education and experience seeking to unite and uplift both our profession and it's repetuation without leaving valued, and experienced colleagues trapped from contributing by increased qualifications without increased wages! I don't know the answers, but I would love to learn!
    Second, when choosing first names, or last names, or what the children and families call us, I think a "one size fits all" answer is far too narrow. Each setting should be free to find the best solution for their place or institution. I do believe the children's ability should be included in the solution. Because my last name is Purple, I am happiest being called Ms. Purple. I wear purple everyday, and the children are able to remember my name almost immediately, and this leads to a feeling of comfort and familiarity that contributes to a great teacher- student relationship. Recently, I became a trained Music Together teacher, and when I am teaching Music Together, I use the practice of being called by my first name, Miss Margro, as I see this as part of my role with Music Together. Never the less, I will continue to wear purple no matter what role I play!
    thanks for giving my thoughts your time,
    Ms. Purple

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    Margro Purple
    Rockville MD
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