Navigating the pandemic—How one ECE teacher is coming out ahead

When Nell Redaniel’s job as a lead teacher at a corporate day care center went on pause last year due to the pandemic, she did what a lot of parents did. She shifted her lesson plans to her young child who was adapting to a new world of at-home learning, then she jump-started her own education by returning to school full-time.

“The one positive thing that happened during this pandemic is it gave me a chance to focus and have more time for school,” she said on LinkedIn recently. “When I return back to my classroom I will have more skills and experience.”

Redaniel picked up a part-time job in a small learning pod supporting the in-person education of several young children from two families and her own daughter. She also pursued one of her passions—helping parents in online forums who were struggling to find new ways of teaching their own young children. She’ll be the first to admit distance learning isn’t easy.

“You can talk in that calm voice and get down on their level and do all those things, but it’s hard to use the psychology you learn in school with your own kids,” Redaniel says.

As a UCSC Silicon Valley Extension student, Redaniel learned how to develop curriculum and plan age-appropriate activities. She created a portfolio of practical lessons for the classroom. She went on to work with children ages two to five for eight years, and also has experience with school-age and middle schoolers.

Joining the Board

This year, we are grateful to have her return to the (virtual) campus as an advisory board member for the newly revamped Early Childhood Education program.

The campus offers three certificate programs in early childhood education: Early Childhood Education: Associate Teacher; Early Childhood Education: Advanced Teacher; and Early Childhood Education: Site Supervisor; as well as Educational Therapy; and two new diversity-focused specializations: DEI for Early Childhood Success and DEI for Educators.

“There are a lot of opportunities out there to take classes and do workshops, to learn more about what it means to be an early childhood educator,” Redaniel says. “I highly recommend it.”

Redaniel, who plans to be the director of an ECE program one day, is working simultaneously on her associate’s degree and bachelor’s degree in child development and serving as president of the Santa Clara Valley Chapter of the California Association for the Education of Young Children.

“I’ve known since fourth grade that I wanted to go into teaching. I love doing it. I’m going to keep pushing forward.”

Some Sage Advice for ECE Students

What advice does she have for others who are new to the early child care classroom?

A Positive Attitude Helps

  • Stay positive and hopeful.
  • Don’t be hard on yourself. Nothing has to be perfect.
  • Advocate for yourself. Don’t be afraid to speak up, share your ideas and question protocols.

Professional Growth: Everyone Needs Support

Be Realistic

  • Keep a balance and know what your limits are. Don’t take on too much!
  • Heads up: Kids are way smarter than the books tell you.

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