In this paper, we explore the complex nature of preparing diverse professionals for authentic, relationship-based care for infants and toddlers in child care. Looking through the eyes of one student caregiver, we travel with her through a semester-long course introducing her to infant care as an integral part of early childhood teacher preparation. We draw on her descriptions of her weekly experiences in an infant room focusing on a key child, her formal reflections in written assignments, and her responses to a series of interview questions once the course was completed to construct a theory of authentic practice through relationship-based teaching and caring. Bringing together the theoretical frames of funds of identity and use of self in authentic practice, we explore the ways that teacher identity unfolds and potentially changes through practice, feedback, and reflective engagement. Our analysis reveals the power of relationship-based learning as a framework for educating diverse teachers for quality infant care.

Author Biography

Susan L. Recchia

Susan L. Recchia, Ph.D. is a Professor of early childhood education at Teachers College, Columbia University. She also serves as the Faculty Director of the Rita Gold Early Childhood Center where she supervises and engages in research with infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and their teachers. Her work focuses on preparing infant educators for quality infant care.

SeungEun McDevitt

SeungEun McDevitt is Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Special Education at St. John’s University. Her work explores the intersection of exceptionality and cultural diversity, with a particular focus on inclusive early childhood teacher education. She received her Ed.D. in Curriculum and Teaching from Teachers College, Columbia University. Before entering academia, Dr. McDevitt was an early childhood special education teacher in New York City.



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