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Graduate Program

Early Childhood Education

PreK – Grade 2 Initial Teacher Licensure

Placements and Supervision

Throughout their time in an EP teacher licensing program, students are engaged in field-based practica. They begin their first semester with a pre-practicum 10 hours a week. During the second semester, students engage in their first student teaching practicum in a preK or K classroom -- often at the Eliot-Pearson Children's School or within a public school setting that is part of our STELLAR program. In the third semester, students complete their student teaching in a 1st or 2nd grade classroom. Many students complete a year-long paid internship in their 1st or 2nd grade student teaching placement in an urban public school, mainly in the Somerville, Cambridge and Boston Public Schools. Every student does at least one student teaching semester in an urban school placement, most do several semesters in urban classrooms.

Students take a series of curriculum courses, theoretical and foundational courses and student teaching seminars that go along with their placements. In addition to the rigorous schedule of coursework, students' field-based experiences occur within a dynamic set of community-university partnerships intended to enhance our students' learning, including the overlapping activities of: our Eliot-Pearson Children's School (EPCS), the Evelyn G. Pitcher Curriculum Resource Laboratory, and the STELLAR partnership program with the Somerville Public Schools. The figure below represents the focus on integrating the placements with coursework and with the ECE program's ongoing community collaborations and special partnerships.

A Teacher Preparation Model of Integration and Community Collaboration & Support

We present each component in turn as they relate to the overall program mission.

The Eliot-Pearson Children's School. The Eliot-Pearson Children's School (EPCS) is the on-campus, laboratory-demonstration site under the direction of the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development at Tufts University. The school provides a training and observation site for new and experienced teachers and a research facility for faculty and supervised students in the Department of Child Study and Human Development, as well as across departments in the larger university. The Children's School enrolls approximately 80 children each year in two preschool, one kindergarten, and one first/second grade combined classroom.

Inclusion and anti-bias education are at the core of the school's mission. EPCS staff is committed to supporting the development of children's and their families' sense of personal and group identity within a diverse and global society across a range of abilities. At EPCS, a safe environment is cultivated, where children are encouraged to take notice of their peers' strengths and expertise and differences are normalized, so that families and children can be proud of their uniqueness. Through our anti-bias stance we explicitly teach children to be proud of themselves and their families, respect human differences, recognize unfairness and bias, and speak up for what is right. EPCS strives to implement anti-bias education by encouraging conversations among children and adults about all types of human differences including culture, race, language, physical, cognitive, and social-emotional abilities, learning styles, ethnicity, family structure, religion, sexual orientation, gender, age, socio-economic differences, and our many ways of being. Staff facilitate and model to children how to listen to one other with open minds; work with individual children and families; plan and develop specific classroom topics, environment, materials, activities and school-wide themes to engage the whole community in the process of learning together.

Each year, several students from the teacher preparation programs serve as Teaching Assistants at EPCS during their first year in our program. Early Childhood Faculty work closely together with EPCS teaching staff to ensure continuity between the program's goals and EPCS's mission as a Department laboratory as well as a community service.
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The Evelyn G. Pitcher Curriculum Resource Lab is a gathering site – both in a real world and virtual sense – where Tufts students, alumni and teachers from local communities work together, finding not only a repository of resources but also collegial support for the production and dissemination of effective curriculum, materials and pedagogical practices for working with culturally and linguistically diverse young children in urban settings. The Lab is under the direction of Dr. Bruce Johnson.

Named in honor of a pioneering educator, advocate and former chair of the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development, the curriculum lab supports current and future teachers in the development and delivery of early childhood curriculum, as well as documentation, assessment and critical reflection on student learning. A multi-purpose space, the curriculum lab includes an art/workshop studio, computers, a classroom/seminar space with complete audio-visual capabilities, and an extensive lending library of children's picture books, early childhood classroom manipulatives and materials, and teacher resources such as curriculum texts and published curricula.

Along with informal drop-in times for both novice and veteran early childhood educators, the curriculum lab hosts professional development workshops and seminars that not only build from the expertise of resident faculty and educators but that also bring expertise from local educators to Tufts. In addition to organizing workshops, seminars and conferences both on Tufts campus and in the local community, the curriculum lab provides online resources as well as a lending library of books and classroom materials for use in local schools and early childhood programs. It is an active space, where our pre-service teachers and in-service teachers, along with other professionals in the community and students across Tufts campus engage with one another around pedagogy, curriculum, and materials.
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STELLAR: A Pre-Service/In-Service Integrated Model of Teaching and Learning. The Somerville + Tufts Enhancing Leadership, Learning, and Readiness (STELLAR) program is a new initiative between our teacher preparation program and the Somerville Public Schools, launched in Fall 2014. The Somerville Public Schools (SPS) represent the rich sociocultural diversity in our metro Boston area, with over 64 languages spoken among families served. SPS consist of one PreK-K, three PreK-8, three K-8, one K-6, one alternative middle school, one traditional high school, and one alternative high school. Eight of the schools receive Title I funds.

Through STELLAR partnerships, we are developing a model for integrating pre-service teacher preparation with in-service professional development designed to create a community of learners, where practice and research inform one another and where students can observe, interrogate, and contribute to high quality educational practice. A number of our students participate in the district as half-year or year-long interns. Their participation is supported by generous stipends provided by the school district. Their classroom work includes a focus on excellence in the instructional program, a focus on the whole child (academic as well as social, emotional, physical and aesthetic development; promoting self-regulation and approaches to learning), and on the active and meaningful engagement of families in the life of the school and in their children's education. Students' Cooperating Teachers (CTs) attend sessions in the student teaching seminar, which has greatly enriched the experience of our students, as they learn from seasoned teachers' perspectives, while also enlivening the experience of the CTs, who rarely have the opportunity to engage in an intellectual community beyond their school context. As we continue to define and grow this program together, the ECE students and faculty are playing an active role in shaping the early childhood education agenda in Somerville.