Occasional Paper Series #42

I Want to Know Why

by Virginia Casper and Rebecca J. Newman

I want to talk about my initial reactions to the work—my emotional reactions. I know these are framed by my past experiences—including culture and privilege. It’s not that I’m a different person in different settings, but I need this space to say some things that I might not be ready to say in the larger meetings—a way to find language for competing thoughts and feelings. — Rebecca

Rebecca shared this at her first supervision session. Rebecca was an early childhood coach and Virginia was her mentor coach; they worked together as part of the Guttman Center’s project designed to support early care providers (see Brickley, this issue; Hancock, this issue). At this initial meeting, Rebecca was eager to roll up her sleeves and discuss with Virginia her first visits with providers. On some level, Rebecca sensed that Virginia would understand and validate her message. Although she expressed a need for privacy, neither of us knew that these conversations would result in a collaboration that would eventually become public through this article.

Our first meeting was followed by a provocative and generative learning relationship that led to new ideas. This article chronicles the somewhat circuitous path we took—telling each other stories of practice and exchanging curiosities, emotions, and at times unanswerable questions—that helped us learn and grow as we worked together to develop Rebecca’s ability to support early care providers and Virginia’s ability to support Rebecca.

Read the Full Essay

About the Authors

Virginia Casper is a developmental psychologist and teacher educator. She has served in instructional, administrative, and clinical roles in the Bank Street Graduate School of Education for over 30 years. As an early childhood educator, she has specialized in infant, toddler, and family development and published widely in ZERO TO THREE and other related publications. Virginia also spent 10 years working internationally in education doing capacity-building work in China, Bulgaria, Bangladesh, Liberia and South Africa, specializing in community-based research and learning. She is also a co-author of Gay-Parents/Straight Schools: Building Communication and Trust (with Steven Schultz), and a textbook on early childhood education (with Rachel Theilheimer) entitled Early Childhood Education: Learning Together.

Rebecca Newman is a School Social Worker at the New York Center for Child Development. Blending her background in early childhood education and social work, Rebecca brings a developmental perspective and passion for mental health to caregivers, families, and communities in service to young children. Before becoming a social worker, Rebecca served as an early childhood teacher in a variety of settings, including Reggio Emilia and Montessori.