Throughout the writing of this book our intended audience was often at the forefront of our minds. We aimed to show the audience how the ELC professional development model is distinct from others that existed in NYS and why our book is worth reading. In 2015, collaboration between NYS Early Childhood Advisory Council, NYS Head Start Collaboration Office, NYS Education Department’s Office of Early Learning and NYS Association for the Education of Young Children identified their principal professional development audience as early childhood administrators and teachers. A series of published briefs on specified curriculum topics Pre-K through 3rd grade, supported teaching strategies that reinforced NYS Learning Standards and Common Core Learning outcomes and thereby aimed to secure children’s success at each grade level.
By contrast, our book presents a unique “upside-down” model of early childhood professional development. The notion of the ELC started when college faculty listened and responded to teacher candidates’ concerns about differences between what they learned in college methods courses and what they sometimes experienced in Practicum placements that resulted in them not being able to carry out required assignments. The focus of the ELC is therefore fixed in local early childhood Practicum classrooms, where teacher candidates and educators work to improve teaching and standard alignment challenges they currently face in the classroom. Our early childhood audience, consisting of pre-service teacher candidates, in-service teachers, classroom assistants, pre-school administrators, college faculty, researchers of learning communities and early childhood policy makers is intentionally broad to illustrate how varied groups of early childhood educators, based in different settings, can undertake professional development together in teams. The aims of the ELC were to: (1) build professional development connections between early childhood educators in different agencies involved with Practicum; (2) improve and align educators’ practice in Practicum placements with NAEYC Standards (2009) used at the College; (3) demonstrate the impact of the ELC on the professional learning of team participants and on children in Practicum placements. It is imperative therefore, that our broad audience understands the working of the ELC, and the different roles they can each play in using and promoting it.