chapter  13
14 Pages

Preservice Early Childhood Teacher Education

BySharon Ryan, Megan Gibson

Preservice teacher education refers to any program where learning about how to teach occurs before entering a classroom with full responsibility for the education of young children (Whitebook, Gomby, Bellm, Sakai, & Kipnis, 2009). However, unlike the K-12 sector where it is expected that nearly all teachers participate in some kind of preservice program of preparation to obtain a 4-year degree and teaching certifi cate, the value placed on the work of teaching in early education and the qualifi cations a teacher needs has been delineated by whether the focus of the work is on care or on education (Osgood, 2012). Those early childhood practitioners seeking to work in public schooling contexts are typically expected to obtain a 4-year degree and teaching credential. Alternatively, depending on state and program requirements, early childhood teachers working in before-school settings such as child care may be required to have as little as a high school diploma to be a lead teacher, and therefore are not required to engage in any kind of specialized education before assuming their responsibilities with children. As a consequence of there being no agreed upon baseline qualifi cation for all teachers working with young children from birth through age 8 years, the early childhood workforce is comprised of “highly skilled and tertiary trained specialists” (Productivity Commission, 2011, p. 204), teachers with some education and training as well as those with minimal preparation. Preservice teacher education programs therefore are one of a number of pathways early childhood practitioners can take to work with young children. As preservice teacher education programs in institutions of higher education are at a minimum two years and a maximum of four to fi ve years of length, they also are a more elite and longer pathway to the classroom.