The Real Choice: A Career in Early Childhood Education

Article excerpt

Stop! Listen! Hear the calling of the little voices. Hear the message loud and clear. Teachers, teachers where are you? Teachers, teachers, to read and write! We want to learn to read and write. We want to use our minds and see the world so bright. Help us in our early years. Help us erase away our fears. Teachers, teachers, where are you? Teachers, teachers, we need you!

An early education for African-American children is more important and necessary than ever before. We need African-American teachers who understand and can relate to the experiences of our children and who will have an impact on their early learning and development. We need enthusiastic, intelligent, and creative individuals to pursue a career in early childhood education.

A career in early childhood education can be both rewarding and challenging: Rewarding because of the responsibility to engage children in a variety of activities that will prepare them from birth to age eight to become life-long learners and productive adults; challenging because early educators must strive to motivate, communicate, and involve children continuously in a variety of learning methods and teaching strategies. These instructional strategies should meet the diverse needs of American-African and other children of color. Are you that person? Can you become that teacher?

Statistics

The need for early educators of color is steadily increasing. The current trend indicates that by the next decade only five percent of the teaching population will be non-white, while students of color will make up 35 percent of the student population. In many cases, in the more urban public school settings these students may represent as much as 90 percent of the student population.

The latest trend in demographic and cultural diversity shows that 1.4 million teachers will be needed by 1997 and 1.5 million to 2.5 million will be needed by the year 2000. There is an ever growing increase in students of color in the public schools and an overwhelming necessity to bring multi-culturalism into the curriculum and the classroom. African-American students must see African-American teachers as role models and providers of relevant learning experiences. According to the recent National Education Association Study, nearly one-third of the students in U.S. public schools belong to a non-white group and only eight percent of the teachers are African-American, three percent are Hispanic and 1.4 percent are Asian. Therefore, the need for teachers of color is especially critical.

Preparation

In preparation for a career in early childhood education, a college student must possess a love for children and feel a strong commitment to the community. At the end of the sophomore year, college students should have maintained a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.5 before being accepted into a teacher preparation program of studies. The student must exhibit both academic and leadership qualities and meet with college advisors on a routine basis. The completion of studies at a four-year institution in a teacher-training program a minimum of a bachelor's degree are required. The education program must provide student teaching and practicum experiences as well as meet state licensure or certification requirements. In at least 22 states the National Teacher Exam is required for certification.

Many Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) offer early intervention strategies that will improve teacher preparation and promote leadership skills, thus hoping to insure successful completion of their programs and to better prepare students to meet the demands of the teaching profession. Such models of intervention might include: * Assessing and evaluating all

components of Teacher Education

Programs * Assuring acceptance with the State

Department. of Education requirements * Expanding recruitment efforts * Establishing a skills-based computer

instructional program * Attending orientation seminars * Structuring academic advising

systems * Providing scholarship opportunities * Developing test batteries in

communication, generalknowledge,

professional knowledge,

education specialty areas * Supervising all field

experiences * Video-tape assessments of student

teaching performances * Providing test-taking study guides * Monitoring academic progress of

students

Norfolk State University, Bethune Cookman College, Tuskegee University, and Xavier University of Louisiana all implement these and many additional strategies to help recruit, maintain, and promote African-American students into the teaching profession. …