Training Early Childhood Educators
A recent policy brief from the Brookings Institution champions charter colleges as a solution to the need for improved training for early childhood educators in the United States. Among students of all backgrounds, high quality early childhood education has demonstrably improved the students’ later performance in school and life outcomes. Nevertheless, as the authors of the paper argue, few early childhood educators are equipped with the skills necessary to facilitate such high quality early education. In order to practically and efficiently improve teachers’ and caretaker’s skills, the authors propose creating a system of charter colleges that "fosters multiple, diverse, and flexible models for improving the skills of early childhood educators, evaluates the impact of these models on teachers’ skills and children’s learning, and gives early childhood workers credentials that provide meaningful information about quality to parents, employers, and policymakers."
While early education charter colleges may not be applicable in our Palestinian context, TYO has implemented a similarly flexible, experience-centered, research-driven approach when training its own early childhood educators. All four of our Core Program teachers volunteered at TYO before joining our staff. Guided by the Psychosocial Program Manager, they learned the best practices for leading traumatized and impoverished children through the twin processes of learning and self-discovery. Their experiences in the volunteer program equipped them to lead classrooms of their own.
Moreover, TYO’s Core Program teachers never stop learning about the best ways to serve their students. Recently, they attended a three-day training conducted by Dr. Cairo Arafat supported by Meridian International Center. The training introduced two new modules for teachers of students aged three to six.
One module gave teachers strategies for presenting important health topics to their students. TYO’s teachers implemented activities from a pilot version of the module during the summer session. They found that their students were much more engaged in learning critical information about hygiene when the teachers used songs to introduce the information. At the recent training on the health module, TYO’s teachers shared their experiences with the activities and learned from other preschool teachers who work throughout the West Bank and Gaza.
Thus, TYO’s Core Program teachers’ intentional training experiences inside and outside the classroom ensure that they are continuing to improve as early childhood educators. From Nablus to New York, training quality early childhood educators is neither straightforward nor simple. Please share your ideas for how to most effectively help preschool teachers gain the skills they need to serve children in Palestine, the Middle East, and around the world.