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Learning Lessons for the Classroom: Attending an Early Childhood Ancillary Certificate Program

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As a candidate in the first ever cohort of the Children's Coalition Institute teacher preparation program at the Children's Coalition for Northeast Louisiana, I have spent the past eight months completing coursework  and applied practice that will prepare me to earn an Early Childhood Ancillary Certificate. The state-approved training for this ancillary certificate, designed especially for child care teachers like myself, provides the tools and knowledge needed to best educate and meet the needs of all my students.

Attending the Children's Coalition Institute teacher preparation program at the Children's Coalition for Northeast Louisiana has drastically improved my quality of teaching. Since attending the Children's Coalition Institute, my classroom observation scores have significantly improved as well as my teaching strategies and classroom management. Each week while attending class at the Children's Coalition Institute, I learn vital information that is specific to what I do every day in the classroom. 

Learning and implementing age appropriate practices have greatly improved the daily atmosphere in my classroom, and have guided me to become a better educator. A day in the life of an early childhood educator in a child care center typically consists of a meticulously well-planned day of fostering education-via-play that meets the needs of each individual child. Early Childhood teachers need to know how to focus on social-emotional, mathematics, literacy, physical, cognitive growth of our students, science, the arts, and social studies, as well as maintain a rich language environment. Dramatic play, such as pretend tea parties and dressing up like firefighters while singing and dancing to, 'ring-around-the-Rosie,' are also daily occurrences.

As an early childhood teacher attending the Children's Coalition Institute, I have learned to be flexible in my daily routine and to follow the children's lead. By doing this, I regularly observe my students' interests, make lesson plans based on their interests, and bring the learning to our play centers in the classroom. Once interested, the children become engaged and can get to a higher level of thinking by expanding on what they already know. It's very busy and can be messy, but at the end of the day it's astronomically rewarding to be involved in the learning process with these young children.

One important part of the Children's Coalition Institute is that the courses are offered in a cohort model. Being in a cohort with other candidates in the teacher preparation program has been a pleasant learning experience that I am truly thankful for. Meeting with these peer educators each week to discuss our similar life experiences in our classrooms, how to improve our current practices, and simply having these companions on this learning journey has been a wonderful experience. Overall, in my opinion, attending the Children's Coalition Institute has been very beneficial to my success as an early childhood educator.

Hillary Walston, Student in Children's Coalition Institute at the Children's Coalition for Northeast Louisiana and 2 year old lead teacher at Bethel Christian School Childcare Center, Ruston, LA

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