Occasional Paper Series #42

Preparing Infant-Toddler Professionals: A Community College’s Perspective

by Jennifer M. Longley and Jennifer M. Gilken

Early childhood educators often experience inequality, earning less and having poorer working conditions and fewer professional requirements than K-12 educators. The disparity also exists among early childhood educators: those who work with infants and toddlers receive the lowest pay, have fewer professional development opportunities, need fewer preservice credentials, and are less respected by society than are K-2 teachers. These disparities impact the professionals, as well as infants, toddlers, and families.

Infant-toddler educators need to reclaim their profession. Reclaiming or reappropriating is a process of saving or recovering something that has been harmed or wronged and working to rectify the damage. Educator preservice training programs have the power to give teachers the tools to reclaim the profession because all members of a career community pass through the halls of preparation programs and are impacted by both the program’s curriculum and their relationships with faculty. As Branscomb and Ethridge (2010) argue, teacher education programs are transformative because they influence how preservice educators view the profession, and they lay the foundation for teachers’ identity. Consequently, the onus lies on infant-toddler teacher educators and preparation programs to begin reclaiming the profession.

Read the Full Essay

About the Authors

Jennifer LongleyJennifer M. Longley, GSE ’96, worked with infants, toddlers, and families for more than 20 years. She received her MSEd in Infant/Parent Development and Early Intervention from Bank Street College of Education (1996). Longley received her doctorate in Education Leadership, Management, and Policy from Seton Hall University (2015). Since then, Longley has had the pleasure of teaching and learning from her students and colleagues as an Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education Program, in the Infant-Toddler specialization, at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. Her research interests include the infant-toddler workforce; family-centered programing; and the experiences of LGBTQIA+ early childhood educators.

Jennifer GilkenJennifer Gilken has worked in the field of early childhood for over 20 years. She has been a teacher in Head Start and kindergarten, a director of a campus- based infant-toddler program, and an assistant professor. Currently, she has the privilege of working with preservice early childhood education students at the Borough of Manhattan Community College in New York City. Jennifer received her PhD in Educational Psychology from the CUNY Graduate Center. Her research interests include examining ways to support the infant-toddler workforce, STEM in early childhood education, and investigating methods that support students’ feelings of belonging.