Occasional Paper Series #42

Relationship-Based Infant Care as a Framework for Authentic Practice: How Eun Mi Rediscovered her Teaching Soul

by Susan L. Recchia and Seung Eun McDevitt

Our work with Eun Mi began when she was a participant in a larger study focused on preparing culturally diverse pre-service teachers in our master’s program to engage in authentic practice (Recchia & McDe- vitt, 2018). She stood out among the participants for several reasons. First, unlike the others who were newcomer immigrants, she had immigrated to North America from Korea as a high school student and had attended a Canadian undergraduate program in early childhood education. As a result, she was much more well-versed in Western-based thinking in the field. Although she had never worked with infants before, she had had several experiences as a student teacher with preschoolers in schools and programs that resembled her placement site. Perhaps because she had had more time to think about and process her teacher identity informed by actual teaching practice, Eun Mi seemed ready to engage in the infant practicum at a deeper level from the start. She was also able to articulate her thoughts and ideas with greater detail, making full use of the integrated structure of the infant practicum as a catalyst for new learning. Most importantly, Eun Mi had a powerful story to tell that went beyond the scope of our previ- ous study. This paper is our attempt to more fully honor her voice.

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About the Authors

SeungEun Mcdevitt and Susan RecchiaSeungEun McDevitt is Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Special Education at St. John’s University. Her work explores the intersection of exceptionality and cultural diversity, with a particular focus on inclusive early childhood teacher education. She received her EdD in Curriculum and Teaching from Teachers College, Columbia University. Before entering academia, Dr. McDevitt was an early childhood special education teacher in New York City.

Susan L. Recchia, PhD, is a Professor of Early Childhood education at Teachers College, Columbia University. She also serves as the Faculty Director of the Rita Gold Early Childhood Center where she supervises and engages in research with infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and their teachers. Her work focuses on preparing infant educators for quality infant care.