“A lot of people think that we’re just here to play they forget that we’re actually here to teach.” – Preschool Teacher
My journey to becoming an Early Childhood Educator (ECE) began the moment I walked into my first course of the 2012 Fall semester at George Brown College. While it was an average class size of about 30 students, one of the first things I realized was that a large percentage of the class consisted of female students. This was something that would stick with me throughout my academic career.
To give you an idea of what the Early Childhood Education Program was like for me at the time . . .
Year 1, Semester 1. The first seven weeks of the program began in class, where I was enrolled in about seven courses. The following seven weeks were then spent out at field placement where I would gain valuable, hands-on experience working and learning alongside a host-teacher. A host-teacher works at the placement site, guides you throughout your placement experience and is responsible for your evaluation during your time there. My first placement experience was working at a child care centre with school-age children enrolled in an after-school program. Since placements generally consist of full 8-hour days, I worked in the preschool classrooms until my group of children arrived at the after-school program at the end of their school day.
Year 1, Semester 2. Once that placement was completed, it was back to class for another seven weeks. My first year of the program would end with another placement which was working entirely with preschoolers. In between my seven weeks of classes and seven weeks at placement was one week off, commonly known as reading week. I’m grateful and lucky to have had that time to travel during those weeks offs.
Year 2, Semester 3. My second year began the same way my first did. Seven weeks in class followed by seven weeks in the field. By this point, I was at my third placement at a Lab school with infants. A Lab school has high expectations as it is operated in associated with a college or university. This was by far my most challenging and rewarding field experience.
Year 2, Semester 4. After my reading week, I returned to class for another seven weeks, and my final placement was working at a school in the Toronto Catholic District School Board in a kindergarten classroom. Once the program was completed, I registered with the College of Early Childhood Educators to be able to practice formally as a Registered Early Childhood Educator (RECE). Not too long after I graduated in April of 2014 I began working at a childcare centre with toddlers and preschoolers.
My academic career wouldn’t end there as I went on to complete two and a half years of the Honours Bachelor of Child Development (BCD) Program at Seneca College.
Having completed my ECE, I entered the fourth semester of the BCD program which is why I only had to complete two and a half years of the four-year program. The learning I gained in this program opened my eyes to a whole new depth of childhood and child development. From studying children’s emotional well-being, to brain research and cognitive development, to screening and assessment tools. My whole understanding, approach and attitude towards my field was shaped drastically from everything I had learned in this program. I ended the BCD program having completed a research study titled, “Job Satisfaction Amongst Male ECE’s and Primary School Teachers”. Having realized how few males there were in both of the two programs I was in, I had set out to uncover and learn the reasons why by interviewing men who were working as an early childhood educator or a primary school teacher about their level of job satisfaction in their role.
My journey towards becoming an Early Childhood Educator, followed by a specialization in Child Development was such a rewarding and enlightening experience for me. But this is a journey that will never be done. I believe that the learning of an educator is never truly over and that there is always room for growth and improvement.