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Increasing Effective and Dynamic Inclusive Early Childhood Education Teachers

Bowling Green State University’s innovated Inclusive Early Childhood Education program seeks to address the need for teacher candidates to be well prepared to enter the classroom. BGSU recognized the importance of shifting their program to assist their teacher candidates in garnering the necessary teaching practices for a changing classroom environment. “We certainly have a wide array of learners with very diverse needs and one the things that this program helps us do is to ensure that we are graduating teachers that are ready to meet the needs of all those learners,” says Dawn Shinew, dean of the College of Education and Human Development at Bowling Green State University.

Every year, BGSU places over 900 teachers through 88 different partnerships with school districts throughout Ohio, which include both urban and rural districts and social service agencies. Teachers are expected to continue taking coursework during their clinical placements to ensure there is a connection among their coursework and their teacher training in the field. More importantly, BGSU believes teacher candidates should be exposed to the fieldwork earlier than what more traditional programs prescribe. Whereas other, more traditional programs place teacher candidates as student-teachers in their senior year of undergraduate studies, BGSU starts placing juniors in clinical settings with the hope to increase their exposure to their career and receive additional training in a variety of education settings, including special education and inclusive classrooms.  

Lynn Pearson, the director of Early Childhood Education at Toledo Public Schools, shares that graduates from BGSU’s Inclusive Early Childhood Education program are more mature and open to feedback in their first years of teaching. She credits much of this success with the rich clinical experience that BGSU requires of their teacher candidates. The success of BGSU’s program is seen in the eagerness for district superintendents to hire from BGSU’s graduate classes as well as the increasing number of schools wanting BGSU teacher candidates as student-teachers, including superintendents from places like Arizona and Colorado.

To learn more, view the video highlighting the BGSU Early Childhood Inclusive Education Program, part of AACTE’s Research-to-Practice Spotlight Series.

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