Advancing Early Care and Education Through Scholarship
Advancing early care and education through scholarship: Amanda Lopes
Amanda’s story: If you wanted to change your classroom or your teaching practice to more deeply encourage the work of play among your students, how would you do it?
The work of young children is play. It’s how they learn beginning concepts of math, science, literacy, and social skills.
But as a teacher, how do you measure “play”? Can you identify the common characteristics of high quality imaginative play in the classroom? If you wanted to change your classroom or your teaching practice to more deeply encourage the work of play among your students, how would you do it?
Those are the questions that Amanda sought to answer at the Institute’s leadership program. With 20 years’ experience as actor, creative dramatics teaching artist, preschool educator, and early childhood administrator, play was a natural area of interest for her. As she researched creativity and imaginative play, however, she learned that there was not a large body of research about these questions.
“There were so many different interpretations of what pretend or imagination or make believe is for children,” Amanda says, noting that the lack of a basic definition of “play” made it difficult to talk about, much less quantify, quality measures.
So Amanda developed the outline for a plan to develop an assessment that would not only create a shared definition of imaginative play, but also provide a resource for teachers so that they could evaluate their classrooms’ ability to support creative and imaginative thinking. She has enrolled in the inaugural class of the PhD Program in Early Childhood Education and Care at UMass Boston to continue her research.
Prior to Amanda’s work at the UMass Boston leadership program, researchers had not designed a way for early educators to measure imaginative play and the teaching strategies that nurture it.
Scholar-practitioners like Amanda, who come from within the field of ECE, are best positioned to lead inquiry into quality improvements, and lead efforts to implement them.
Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation
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