The early educator is the cornerstone of the learning environment. Educators in this field experience a unique combination of demands that involve daily physical, emotional, and mental labor. In order to cultivate and sustain a high-quality environment, early educators need skills and strategies to enact activities and tasks that build children’s social-emotional skills, content knowledge and language skills — all the while managing challenging behaviors and responding to unpredictability that comes with a classroom of young children.

Today’s Early Educator will focus on the various challenges early educators face, provide training on several critical competencies needed to support a high-quality learning environment, and introduce an array of professional supports that educators need in order to create optimal early learning environments and experiences for children.

This two-week online program led by HGSE Professors Nonie Lesaux and Stephanie Jones is offered as a part of the Saul Zaentz Professional Learning Academy, which works to equip leaders with the cutting-edge knowledge, strategic tactics, and collaborative networks needed to design and implement approaches and policies that improve young children's learning environments. Through video lectures, readings, case studies, and facilitated online discussions, you will engage with research and practice to assist you with the daily, but critical, work of cultivating and sustaining a high-quality learning environment in your own context.

By completing the program, you will be able to:

  • Understand the latest research regarding the socio-demographics and needs of today’s early learners and resulting implications for early educators.
  • Explore the roles of Talk for Learning, Executive Function Skills, and Emotion Regulation as key competencies needed for creating and maintaining a high-quality early learning environment.
  • Introduce planning tools that support the implementation of practices that will enhance these competencies as well as tools that highlight central features of key professional supports.

The online instruction, discussions, and job-embedded practice should take five to seven hours over the duration of the program. Participants who complete all individual assessments and contribute to group discussions will receive a certificate indicating completion of five clock hours of instruction.

Meet The Faculty

Nonie Lesaux

Nonie Lesaux

Juliana W. and William Foss Thompson Professor of Education and Society at the Harvard Graduate School of Education

Nonie Lesaux's research focuses on promoting the language and literacy skills of children from diverse linguistic, cultural and economic backgrounds. Her research formed the basis for a reading proficiency bill passed in Massachusetts and informs her work across the country leading teams of district and state leaders, center directors, administrators, and teachers focused on strengthening their Pre-K to 3rd initiatives. Lesaux recently served on the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council's Committee on the Science of Children Birth to Age 8 and is the chair of the Massachusetts' Board of Early Education and Care. Lesaux serves as co-director of the Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative at HGSE.

Stephanie Jones

Stephanie Jones

Marie and Max Kargman Associate Professor in Human Development and Urban Education Advancement

Stephanie Jones's research, anchored in prevention science, focuses on the effects of poverty and exposure to violence on children and youth's social, emotional, and behavioral development. Over the last ten years her work has focused on both evaluation research addressing the impact of preschool and elementary focused social-emotional learning interventions on behavioral and academic outcomes and classroom practices; as well as new curriculum development, implementation, and testing. Jones serves on numerous national advisory boards and expert consultant groups related to social-emotional development and child and family anti-poverty policies, including the National Boards of Parents as Teachers and Engaging Schools. She consults to program developers, including Sesame Street, and has conducted numerous evaluations of programs and early education efforts, including Reading, Writing, Respect and Resolution, Resolving Conflict Creatively, SECURe, and the Head Start CARES initiative. Across projects and initiatives, Jones maintains a commitment to supporting the alignment of preK-3 curricula and instructional practices.

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