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Program Insights

Issues and Advocacy in Early Childhood Education: Concordia Course Spotlight

By The Room 241 Team August 20, 2018

If you’re passionate about child development and enjoy working with our youngest students, you might be curious about Concordia’s MEd in Curriculum & Instruction: Early Childhood Education. To give you a better sense of what this specific program entails, we thought it would be helpful to examine one of the courses from it. So we connected with adjunct faculty member Angie Stratton.

Picture of Angie Stratton

Angie Stratton, M.A.Ed.

Angie Stratton has served in the field of education for over 28 years as a 1st – 3rd-grade teacher, reading specialist, instructional coach, college supervisor, adjunct faculty lead and course designer. Currently, Angie works as an early childhood instructional specialist for an educator preparation program where her responsibilities include supervising early childhood adjunct instructors and student teaching mentors, managing, revising, and updating early childhood online courses, evaluating online (elementary) charter school applications, and co-facilitating adjunct faculty and program supervisor workshops.

Angie is proud to teach EDCI 503: Issues and Advocacy in Early Childhood Education for Concordia University’s online master’s degree program. Let’s find out more about this course from Angie herself.

What’s the goal of this course?

EDCI 503: Issues and Advocacy in Early Childhood Education, gives students an opportunity to explore and embrace the impact they have on the students they teach, reflect on ways they can advocate for all students, and immerse themselves in scholarly research on an advocacy topic of their choice.

Specifically, the syllabus states: Candidates will view early childhood from a broader perspective than the individual classroom; expand their knowledge base to aspects of early childhood education (ECE) that encompasses policy issues at community, state, and national levels; and become stronger advocates for early childhood education, children in all settings, and issues beyond his/her classroom.

Students who want to grow professionally in the area of early childhood education and value reflection would enjoy this course.

What are a couple of examples of homework assignments?

Here are two straight from the syllabus:

1. Professional Mission Statement: Whether you have wanted to be a teacher your entire life or you have just recently discovered your passion for teaching young children, you are here for a reason. Why did you choose to teach young children? Many early childhood professionals see their work as a vocation, a personal mission, or a calling.

Develop a professional mission paper articulating your role in the lives of young children. In 3-4 APA-style pages, address the following:

  • Why do you work (or want to work) with young children?
  • What characteristics should an early childhood professional embody? Explain.
  • How do you strive to be an early childhood professional?
  • What is your goal or mission as you work with young children?
  • How do/will you advocate for children in this role?
  • How does your goal or mission align with your spiritual faith or life values?

2. Advocacy Characteristics: Marian Wright Edelman has been a strong advocate for children and families for the past several decades. As founder of the Children’s Defense Fund and Stand for Children, Ms. Edelman diligently advocates for the rights of children and families, especially for those who are most at risk. Watch Marian Wright Edelman’s address, Marian Wright Edelman on Children (Edelman, 2014). Reflect on this address as you respond to the following questions:

  • What is your definition of advocacy?
  • What do you feel are the most important characteristics of an effective advocate? Why?
  • Are you an effective advocate? Give examples of how you have advocated for children and families throughout your career. If you are just starting your career, explain how you will advocate for children and families. You will continue this discussion in your Wednesday post.

What is an example of the reading material?

Here are two great examples that many students enjoy reading and discussing:

How can students apply what they learn in this course to their profession?

Like many of the other early childhood courses that Concordia offers, there is an emphasis on “real life” application as the content is carefully constructed to complement and extend what a typical early childhood teacher experiences on a daily basis. Students must provide examples of how the course content is relevant to their role as a teacher; this “supporting evidence” is often the difference between a “meets” and “exceeds” designation on the scoring rubric.

What types of meaningful conversations are had in this course?

Concordia’s students care deeply about their own students. Advocacy can evoke feelings of passion, commitment, and determination. As students are choosing their advocacy topics, it is important for them to be able to present both sides of the topic, as well as include scholarly research to support each perspective.

Sometimes, students are fixed on a topic that doesn’t have that significant scholarly support for each perspective. This is when I need to engage them in conversation (usually through email) to help shift their focus. I post “proactive” announcements and include topic guidance in my feedback as I want to give all students an opportunity to be eligible to receive full credit on the two heavily weighted assignments (Week 4 and 5).

What’s your favorite aspect of this course?

I love that the students can choose the advocacy topic they research for the heavily weighted paper as well as the PowerPoint presentation. So many of the students choose to advocate for topics that are applicable to their everyday work and they actually plan to put their PowerPoint “creations” to good use.

One student advocated for planting a garden in the school courtyard. Several weeks after the course ended, that student sent me pictures of the garden; it was beautiful. As an extension of this innovative learning opportunity, the students used the fruits and vegetables from their garden to make lunch for their parents. Talk about a teachable moment for everyone!

What do you enjoy most about working with Concordia’s MEd students?

I particularly appreciate the passion and dedication that Concordia’s MEd students demonstrate in their interactions with one another, the devotion they have for their students, and their ability to “infuse” their core beliefs and faith into their work while stretching themselves professionally.

What do you think are a couple of the key characteristics that strong advocates possess?

An effective early childhood advocate must possess many important attributes. An early childhood advocate is resilient, passionate, knowledgeable, and can harness the stamina to inspire significant change, even when faced with adversity.

Feedback from Cavaliers

“Issues and Advocacy in Early Childhood Education was an excellent course that emphasized the importance of issue-driven advocacy for young learners at the local, state, and national levels. It also reflected on the urgency of creating an awareness among stakeholders. This course was an asset to my career path and current doctoral work.” – Sherrie

“Concordia has really taught me to be a stronger advocate for my students. Before [the program], you kind of know what’s good for your kids and what is developmentally appropriate. But then understanding why you’re doing certain things or why you shouldn’t be doing certain things, is really what brought it full-circle for me.” – Lauren

“This was honestly my hardest class, but I recommend really taking the time to read and take notes and make a lot of time to get work done. The ECE program made me feel much more connected to current research.” – Amanda

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