In the course of employing the principles and techniques enumerated here, several assumptions that underlie the application of these principles might be pointed out. First, it seems useful to assume that not all teachers can be helped by any one teacher educator. Occasionally, an assignment includes a teacher who constitutes a "chronic case" for a given teacher educator. Such a teacher drains large portions of energy, and somehow nothing really seems to help. While this teacher seems to be taking much time and thought, and making no progress, there are other teachers we are responsible for who are ready and waiting to respond to our help and to make developmental advances with relatively modest efforts on our part.

On such occasions, it is a good idea to take the time to think through very deliberately whether or not we see any potential for growth for this teacher under our guidance. We ask ourselves, Do I see any potential for development in this teacher through my own efforts? If the assessment is ultimately a positive one, then we can make a "go" decision and mobilize all the professional resources available for the task at hand. If the assessment is ultimately negative, then we can make a "no-go" decision and make every effort to refer this teacher to other teacher educators, agents, or sources of assistance.

The usefulness of the assumption that none of us can teach everyone equally effectively resides mainly in the apparent effects of scrutinizing one's own thoughts and feelings about the case and making a clear choice or "go/no-go" decision. Once the decision has been made, then the energy drained in agonizing over the chronic case seems to become available for work with those teachers who are ready to respond to our help. Indeed, the content of a relationship that is chronically unsatisfying becomes focused on the pain and frustrations it engenders instead of on the problems of improving the teacher's effectiveness. Furthermore, it appears that when a "go" decision has been made, we begin to notice some positive attributes of the teacher in question. (Such positive attributes were there before, but we overlooked them by focusing on the chronic aspects of the relationship.) This awareness in turn tends to improve our responses, which in turn seems to lead to more positive responses on the teacher's part. Thus, a positive "snowball" can be set into motion by engaging in deliberate scrutiny of our own thinking about the difficult or chronic cases we encounter.

Furthermore, it seems useful always to hold to the assumption that every teacher we work with has an inner life of concerns, dreams, wishes, fantasies, hopes, aspirations, and so forth, just like all of us. We do not have to know the content of that life. But if we respect the fact that it is there, we are more likely to treat the teacher with dignity and with respect, an approach not only essential in teaching but also ethically sound.

Another useful assumption is that every teaching decision contains its own potential errors. If, as suggested above, we decide not to correct a teacher for the sake of building a long-term relationship, we may make the error of letting the teacher continue to perform incorrectly. If we correct the teacher immediately, we risk the error of undermining a relationship that could stimulate significant long-term development and affect a teacher's entire career. Similarly, if we demonstrate to a teacher our own skills in working with children, we may strengthen our credibility, but we may make the error of causing the teacher to feel ashamed or less confident of his or her own competence. On the other hand, if we pass by opportunities to demonstrate our skills, what we teach may be discounted as coming from an inadequate, high-minded, and impractical or naive source; therefore, our ideas and suggestions may be dismissed out of hand.

Until such time as we can devise approaches and techniques that are error free, we might accept the assumption that every choice or decision contains some errors. We can then think through what those errors might be and select the ones we prefer to make. This assumption should free us to make deliberate choices about the appropriate content of our relationships with the teacher we work with and to proceed with sufficient confidence to help them strengthen their own teaching abilities and self-confidence.

For More Information

Arroyo, A., and Sugawara, A.I. (1983) A Scale of Student Teaching Concerns for Use with Early Childhood Education Teacher Trainees. Unpublished paper. ED 265927.

Bredekamp, S. (1990). Preparation and Professional Development Programs for Early Childhood Educators: Adequacy of the Knowledge Base. Paper presented at the Conference on Preparation and Professional Development Programs for Early Childhood Educators: Emerging Needs for the Next Decade, New York, November. ED 328339.

Gliessman, D. (1984). Changing Teacher Performance. In L.G. Katz and J.D. Raths (Eds.). Advances in Teacher Education. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing Corporation.

Halliwell, G. (1989). Teachers Initiating Change towards More Flexible Curriculum Practices. Paper presented at the International Conference on Early Education and Development, Hong Kong, July-August. ED 310864.

Katz, L.G. (1977a). The Advisory Approach to Inservice Education. In L.G. Katz. Talks with Teachers: Reflections on Early Childhood Education. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children. ED 144703.

Katz, L. G. (1977b). Challenges to Early Childhood Educators. In L.G. Katz. Talks with Teachers: Reflections on Early Childhood Education. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children. ED 144703.

Maslach, C., and Pines, A. (1977). The Burn-out Syndrome in the Day Care Setting. Child Care Quarterly, 6(2): 100-113. EJ 172340.

Peters, R.S. (1970). Concrete Principles and the Rational Passion. In N.F. Sizer and T.R. Sizer (Eds.). Moral Education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Seligman, M.E. (1975). Helplessness: On Depression, Development, and Death. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman and Company.

Williams, H., and McBride, N. (1989). Alternative Practicum Support Services: Developmentally Appropriate Practice for Early Childhood Teacher Education Students. Paper presented at the International Conference on Early Education and Development, Hong Kong, July-August. ED 309886.


References identified with an ED (ERIC document) number are cited in the ERIC database. Documents are available in ERIC microfiche collections at more than 825 locations worldwide. Documents can also be ordered through EDRS: (800) 443-ERIC. References with an EJ (ERIC journal) number are available from the original journal, interlibrary loan services, or article reproduction clearinghouses, such as: UMI (800) 732-0616; or ISI (800) 523-1850.

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