By Christle Seal, Director of Educational Programs of The Malvern School
Embracing best practices on a daily basis in whatever your chosen field seems like a given. Who starts their day with the feeling, “I think I would like to be adequate. I plan to just get by?” We don’t! As Early Childhood Educators, many of us look to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) for a road map of how to improve our skills and gift our children with excellence every day. The NAEYC Accreditation process and maintenance system for quality provide a foundation on how to continually strive to be the best for the children and families.
Over the course of my career, I have looked to the innovative guidance from NAEYC to inspire me, challenge me and validate my teaching practices, the policies I help promote and the relationships I have built within my school and community. It has been a privilege over the years to assist hundreds of educators in their pursuit of excellence and to learn with them and from them along the way.
As early learning educators, utilizing the provided guidance to be reflective each day ensures that our choices have a positive impact on the day and the future. For example, the accreditation system gives us easy to use resources, such as observation tools, facility checklists, portfolio tools and various surveys. The valuable information obtained from family and teaching staff surveys provides validation for strengths and suggestions for innovation. In addition, on a regular basis, we refer to the criteria guidance through observation and portfolio tools.
We have a fun saying here that, “the gray boxes are your friend”. Within each tool, there are gray boxes highlighting the additional guidance with detailed descriptions of what it means to execute that practice well. Within this extra information, we gain the perspective of an outsider’s eyes and suggestions for appropriate materials. By reading this additional guidance and having open discussions with our teaching staff, we have gained much knowledge. We love seeing the lightbulbs go off as teachers realize that their teaching practices link back to the Gold standards of Early Childhood Education.
During the course of the accreditation process, we have that NAEYC roadmap to improving our skills and systems. The process of being reflected on a daily basis has made our staff better educators and solidified our close-knit team. Portfolio parties bring the teachers together to share ideas and resources. They can be a fun way to showcase teaching talents and creativity as well.
Throughout the process of achieving accreditation and then maintaining the accreditation, we rely on strong partnerships. We partner with our families and staff on a daily basis, but the teamwork does not end there. When we have questions, we can reach out to the Academy at NAEYC at any time. Our shared vision of high-quality care and education for all children shines through.
Director of Educational Programs for The Malvern School, Christle began her Early Childhood career with The Malvern School in 1998 as a Preschool teacher in their opening school year. Since that time, she has held many roles within several school locations and the Executive office, focusing on excellence in overall programming, quality assurance, and NAEYC Accreditations. Christle holds a dual degree and PA certification in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Temple University.
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