Written By: Marion Abiva-Cruz
This article is unfortunately not for the health-conscious — it’s not about having healthy vegetables such as peas passed around the dining table, nor is it about teaching children manners. The Ps in this article have to do with P-qualities of what makes preschool teachers truly effective teachers. Regardless of whether you are a school administrator on the lookout for that gem of a preschool teacher you’d love to get on board your teaching team, or a parent searching for that preschool teacher to whom you would peacefully entrust your precious child three hours each day, or an early childhood educator yourself wanting to soul-search and see if you are indeed cut out for this job, then this is a must-read for you!
What Ps must an effective preschool teacher possess to pass the test? There are certainly many factors to become an effective preschool teacher. Review of related literature on the qualities of good preschool teachers cites other key elements, but I believe that these four should be on top of the list:
P – Passion. Others may call this “drive” but it really is more than that. It is high energy coupled with loads of enthusiasm and genuine love for children. The motivation to teach does not come from anywhere else but from deep within: knowing that teaching in the preschool will make a stark difference in the life of a child. It is the preschool teacher holding on to the profound conviction that she is doing what she is doing because it is a calling and a vocation and therefore loves what she is doing. Otherwise, preschool teaching becomes a chore and that being the case, it’s best to just go on a job hunt and work elsewhere!
P – Patience, patience, and more patience! That boy who just stepped on your foot, pulled your hair, and lifted your skirt is throwing a fit because it is his first day of school and he is terrified to bits because he does not know you from Timbuktu! As unbelievable as it may sound, preschool teachers face many hazards on the job but they are required by their calling to breeze through them with poise and finesse. Children’s sense of worth is so fragile that preschool teachers cannot afford to wreak havoc and destroy it and they must therefore remain composed while dealing with all sorts of concerns even if they feel utterly frustrated, angry, or exasperated!
P – Perseverance. In a class, there is almost always one child who seems to be lagging behind the others. Perseverance is the willingness to purposefully go the extra mile for the child who is having trouble reading. It is the unrelenting commitment to stick to one’s beliefs relating to children’s needs and education-related issues. It may also be defined as the indomitable spirit to cover the defenseless child’s back even if it means protecting him from his own abusive parents. It is devoted service without counting the cost. Ultimately, it is the utmost dedication to always choose what is BEST for the child.
P – Professionalism. Just like the little children whom they teach, effective teachers must never lose that spark in their eyes when discovering new things. They themselves are lifelong learners they wish their students to become, armed with a thirst for knowledge that knows no end. They must be competently equipped with the wisdom of how young children learn, banking on their creative juices and resourcefulness to prepare fun activities for learning. They are astute professionals whose demeanor spells respect for the diverse learners in the class, appreciation for their varied family backgrounds, and finally, the proper deference to school authority that makes for unity in achieving the school’s vision-mission.
As you consider that prospective preschool teacher on the wait list for the job, or as you check out the teacher handling your child’s first preschool experience, or if you are currently a preschool teacher wondering if teaching young children is the right fit given your skill sets, giftedness and personal vision, it would do well to …..pass the Ps please!
Reference: Colker, L.J. March 2008. “Twelve characteristics of effective early childhood teachers.” Beyond the Journal. Young Children. 63 (2): 68.
Marion Abiva-Cruz is currently the School Directress of Cradle of Joy Center for Learning. She finished her post graduate degree of Master of arts in Early Childhood Education from Eastern Michigan University. She is also currently teaching Early Childhood Education at the Ateneo de Manila University.