To foster learning,
you will need knowledge of subject-matter content, an understanding of how
children learn specific skills and develop background knowledge at various
stages of their development, and an ability to select the instructional
strategy that will best promote learning at any given time. For example, there
are multiple techniques that you can use to support language and literacy development. One is to facilitate
“serve and return” interactions with young children that help build their
vocabulary skills. When children have experiences with frequent and elaborate
language from an early age, they build vocabulary and background knowledge.
This also teaches children how words work together. By listening and then
speaking children understand more words, which eventually translates to
are becoming better understood for helping teachers to develop children’s early
math skills, provide them experiences with scientific practices, and nurture
their social and emotional development. Helping children to learn to regulate their actions and emotions, for
example, requires learning environments that are organized, predictable, and
focused on developing warm relationships with you and their peers. For all of
these subject areas and domains, Transforming
the Workforce concludes that teachers need to use research-based curricula
and take advantage of opportunities for professional learning.
In addition to
knowing how to teach subject matter and skills, you will need to know how to
apply these strategies for specific populations of students, such as dual
language learners or children with disabilities. Part of your job entails being
able to identify which children need additional supports, which requires
understanding the different types of screening and assessment tools, including
how to interpret assessment results and make appropriate changes to instruction
In short, being an
early educator requires a whole host of competencies and a deep base of
knowledge. And while there are meaningful differences in these competencies depending
on whether you are working with infants and toddlers, preschoolers, or
elementary school students, professionals working across the B–8 continuum
should have a shared knowledge base and skills to provide quality practice and
ensure continuity for children.
328–329 of Transforming the
Workforce, you can see a full list
of the competencies that educators need. The report organizes these
competencies into five categories:
- Core knowledge of the science of
child development and early learning
- Practices to help children learn
and develop based on this science
- Knowledge and skills for working
with diverse populations of children
- Development of partnerships with
families and support services to bolster child learning and development
- Ability and motivation to
continually improve the quality and effectiveness of one’s practices
- Review the list of competencies on
pages 328–329. Which ones do you feel most confident about as an educator?
Which ones do you want to develop further?
- Are professional learning
opportunities offered by your state, school district, or community to fill the
- Do you have access to
research-based curricula and tools to help support children’s learning? Are
those tools equally strong in all domains (such as social-emotional
development, literacy and language development, math, and science)?
- How are you using assessment in
your classroom or program to inform lessons and improve child learning and
- Do you need more training in
learning how to adjust instruction in response to assessment results?
This synopsis was drawn from our summary of chapter 6 and summary of chapter 7 of Transforming the Workforce; we encourage you to go to those summaries
for key takeaways, examples, graphics, important quotations from the National
Academies’ volume, and more.