Reflecting upon all that has been covered throughout the two years I have spent at Walden working on my Master’s Degree, I would certainly say it was been time well spent. One of the most significant things I am taking away from this program is that advocacy in the early childhood field can begin on a small, local scale and ripple to provide a greater impact. Prior to my classes at Walden, when I thought of advocacy, I imagined people with megaphones chanting with signs outside of legislative buildings. I never thought I had a voice loud enough to be heard, or time to commit to participate in such activity, so I just did nothing. However, I have since learned that we can become advocates for what we believe even if within our teams or schools, and our messages can be carried on. We can get a group behind us, and grow stronger as well. Advocacy can be carried out in many ways using different voices. Another important message I am taking away is the significance of Developmentally Appropriate Practice in the early childhood classroom. I am embarrassed to say, but prior to my courses, I did not really know what this meant. The term was thrown around my Head Start program, we were expected to tell parents our classrooms were based on DAP, yet we received no training or PD in this area. When I asked for support, I was handed a packet of papers to read through independently. Developmentally Appropriate Practice should be the basis of everything single thing we do in the classroom. We need to develop deep relationships with our students so we understand them, their interests, their learning styles, and how we can best assist them as they learn, develop, and grow. When we follow the principles laid out by NAEYC for DAP all things will fall into place. The third important piece of information I am taking away is the role of communication and collaboration in the group setting. This was a particular growth of mine, as I learned that conflict, when managed efficiently can be beneficial in collaborative settings. I was also someone who tiptoed around or typically avoided conflict by keeping quiet because I was afraid of it. It was interesting to learn that it can be beneficial, and, “If Your Team Agrees on Everything, Working Together is Pointless”. (https://hbr.org/2017/01/if-your-team-agrees-on-everything-working-together-is-pointless)
A long-term goal I am establishing for myself is to never stop learning. At the top of my blog reads a quote, “Learning is like rowing upstream: not to advance is to drop back” (Chinese proverb). I feel it is extremely important as a professional to continue to learn and grow, because in the field of early childhood education, information is always changing. I take this responsibility very seriously. After taking some time to breathe and focus on my family, I ideally hope to return back to school for another Master’s degree or the ultimate goal, a Doctorate.
To my fellow colleagues, congratulations on completing your final course at Walden! We have all worked long and hard to get to this moment and it is certainly something to celebrate! Thank you for all of your support and assistance along the way. This course particularly has required a significant amount of group input and I sincerely appreciate all you have done to help me with my Capstone Project. All of our wonderful instructors have been phenomenal facilitators in this process as well. Their feedback has been positive, beneficial, and supported my learning in a meaningful way.
I wish you all the best of luck in your future endeavors and thank you again for all of your support.