This is the proposal that I just sent off for the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators (NAECTE). Don't tell me if you see any typos. I will know by the end of the summer if it gets accepted. My next proposal will be for AERA (American Educational Research Association).
Title of Presentation: “Every child deserves a good teacher but some children deserve more”: a case study of three third grade teachers in standards-based learning environments
Abstract: The primary grades are an important part of a child’s development. Early educators help children master academic skills; in addition they help children work together, care for themselves and others, continue to enjoy learning and maintain their natural curiosity (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997). Teaching is contextually bound; children with unique needs, strengths, and backgrounds come to schools that have a variety of resources and responsibilities for diverse communities. This context has been further complicated by recently enacted standards-based education reforms that require states to test all students in grades three through eight annually in math and reading (U.S. Department of Education, 2002). Early childhood teachers, particularly those who work in public elementary schools, are faced with a difficult dilemma: preparing young children to be successful on standard-based education reform measures while also helping them develop the skills that will help them thrive in life. Some states (such as Texas) add to this pressure by retaining children in third grade who don’t pass their state's mandated test.
This presentation allows teachers educators to gain insight into the practices of elementary school teachers who engage in high-quality developmentally appropriate instructional in the current standards-based, data-driven context. It presents findings from a qualitative case study that examined the quality teaching practices of teachers who helped students to succeed on their state's mandated third grade test while employing instructional strategies that helped students develop a deep love of learning. For instance, these teachers enjoyed their days with students by reading literature for pleasure, joking, hugging, and asking about their time outside of school. Instructionally, they possessed both deep pedagogical knowledge and a desire to see each child succeed, and they enacted this desire by challenging each child academically everyday. In short, the findings from this study provide teacher educators with a deeper understanding of the diverse context in which their students will teach, and effective teaching strategies that can be used to prepare their students to be successful in today’s performance driven schools.
Benefits to NAECTE: Understanding the reality confronting teacher education students as they enter the profession is necessary for early childhood teacher educators to provide their students with the resources they need to succeed within it. Pre-service teachers often enter standards-based classrooms that stand in stark contrast to the best practices they have learned at the university. Providing students with experiences in exemplary classrooms will help them utilize appropriate teaching practice rather than seeing them as an unrealistic ideal. By sharing the strategies the case study teachers used, this study allows early childhood teacher educators to tap into the classrooms of three teachers who faced the pressures of standards-based reforms and embraced high-quality developmentally appropriate teaching practices. This presentation highlights how these three teachers used the resources they had available to them both internally and on their campuses to help students succeed in multiple areas. This analysis allows early childhood teacher educators to benefit from their successes in the classroom and present strategies that teacher educators need to consider sharing with their students.