Being an early childhood educator (ECE) takes a special kind of person: someone who is patient, intelligent, hard-working, and well-rounded. Although educators are intrinsically motivated, it is also important that they are recognized externally (and professionally) for their efforts and skills. Most often, this needed recognition is demonstrated in the form of a well-deserved promotion.
So, what are some steps educators can take to get promoted in ECE?
Embrace Professional Development Opportunities
Being up to date on best practices and the ever changing research surrounding early childhood, will ensure ECE’s are knowledgeable about new techniques, strategies, and requirements of early childhood education. The National Association of Independent Schools lists good practice for ECE’s as having an understanding of the whole child (providing for their physical, social, emotional and intellectual well-being.) Building on children’s natural curiosities, encouraging their love for learning, and engaging with parents as partners in the education process, are all components of good practice. Many early childhood educators want to effectively apply these components of good practice in their classrooms, while also utilizing new techniques that incorporate fairness, equality, and diversity. Though what many educators lack, are the resources and tools to do this successfully. Professional development opportunities can help address the need for growth that many educators are seeking. Engaging in continuous learning will affect not just confidence and capabilities in the classroom, but the confidence that supervisors and families have in the staff.
The great thing about professional development (PD) is that it comes in many forms.
Attend conferences and training sessions in-person, if possible
Attend conferences and training when possible. If the center you are working with offers in-person professional development, try to attend. Not only does attending in person help you engage with other educators and build your own learning community, but it also shows your commitment to your growth. Being able to take part in workshops with co-workers helps build morale and lets others know that you are a team player and dedicated to your center. Team players invested in a shared vision will soon become leaders. In-person conferences also provide the chance to meet with educators that are from organizations different from your own. You will hear about new professional practices and gather knowledge about scenarios and situations that are different from your own.
Enroll in online courses
Take the time to research available courses, seminars, and topics that might be of interest to you. High quality training courses such as the ones offered through HiMama Academy are a great starting point. A plethora of useful topics such as cognitive learning and theories of development are readily available. Self-paced learning is a great option for the educator who has many professional and personal responsibilities to balance. Online courses can work with your busy
schedule and allow you to learn new methods and techniques at your own pace and any location you choose. The convenience and comfortability of online courses have made this type of professional development one of the most common among educators. An educator who actively seeks opportunities for growth is an educator who will be recognized for their focused efforts within the profession.
Join a professional organization or mailing list
There are many professional organizations that can help keep you up-to-date in the field through newly released publications. Scholarly articles and blogs written by other early childhood educators are great resources to help you keep a growth mindset and open perspective on the job. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) are just two examples of organizations that exist to empower you and help you advance in the field.
Pursue a certification or higher degree
Along with the professional development that you partake in, pursuing a certification or higher degree is another step you can take to get promoted. For example, the Childhood Development Associate (CDA) credential or the Certified Childcare Professional (CCP) certification are two types of certifications for preschool teachers that are earned through different requirements, such
as assessments, observation, or experience.
Although the position you are in may only require the degree or experience you currently have, you want to look ahead to what a future position might need. This type of forward thinking leads to promotions. Being enrolled in a formal program in which you consistently expand your learning experiences will not just send a positive message to an employer, but will also help families trust that you are dedicated to being the best educator you can be.
Find a mentor
As reported in Edutopia, mentorship offers a special source of support for educators. Mentors can pass on the wisdom they have gleaned through their personal experiences. They also have a good understanding of the organization they belong to and can give insight to newer educators on the culture and vision. Mentors within a shared workplace are one of the most common methods for supporting new educators, and helping them build confidence in their new environment.
Mentors from different centers or organizations can also be a benefit. Being able to compare classroom management and learning styles in different environments will broaden an educator’s horizons to better address concerns and needs when they arise. Also, having a mentor from outside your own center or school can allow for more honest conversation. That honesty and vulnerability can help you become a more capable and confident leader as you prepare for an interview that could get you the promotion you desire.
Apply Leadership Skills
Along with professional development, getting a promotion may also depend on your own mindset. Be confident in your abilities and focus on what it takes to be a good leader. Practicing different types of communication and demonstrating that you are an effective communicator, is a clear way to prove you can be a leader. Investing in building relationships with coworkers and families, being an advocate for learning in your community, and effective time management are all actions of a potential leader. While demonstrating your skills as a leader, it is also important to prioritize your social emotional wellbeing, and ensure you are focusing on what is most important as you work towards a promotion.
If you are an early childhood educator, you are doing important work. You are shaping young minds and empowering future generations daily. Taking the time to better yourself through different professional development opportunities will ensure you are working towards advancement in your field. Practicing good leadership skills in your current position will help as you take purposeful steps toward a promotion that is surely in the future.