Reimagining Teacher Education to Attract and Retain the Early Childhood Workforce: Addressing the Needs of the “Nontraditional” Student
Many early childhood teacher education faculty have come to recognize how particular features of university-level early childhood education programs can, in their efforts to comprehensively address a formidable range of competencies, deter early childhood workers from matriculating into their programs. As a result, these teacher educators have begun to design degree programs that speciﬁ cally acknowledge and address the needs of early childhood workers seeking college-level credentials, many of whom are “nontraditional” students. Often taking an ecological approach, these teacher educators recognize that changing particular structures and cultural assumptions of their programs is crucial to the project of attracting, supporting, and successfully graduating early childhood educators. This is especially poignant for students who come from backgrounds in which there have been minimal expectations and few precedents for obtaining college degrees. Most prominently, these changes call for the cultivation of diversiﬁ ed teacher education faculty who are well versed in the literature on adult learning, including the concepts of andragogy (Knowles, 1984), critical reﬂ ection (Brookﬁ eld, 1987), and transformative learning (Mezirow, 1991). Faculty must therefore be able to develop curricula that exploit the beneﬁ ts of these learners’ knowledge, experience, and beliefs that they bring to college classrooms. This chapter will offer examples of university early childhood teacher education programs that are actively contending with traditionally structured programmatic obstacles, are employing narrative pedagogies, which encourage students to consider their “lived situatedness” (McLaren & da Silva, 1993, p. 69), and are developing programs that make use of mentoring and cohort models (see Chu, Martínez-Griego, & Cronin, 2010; Exposito & Bernheimer, 2012; Garavuso, 2010; Haynes Writer & Oesterreich, 2011; Kipnis, Whitebook, Almaraz, Sakai, & Austin, 2012).