Professor Tamar Jacobson wins Outstanding Teacher Educator award

The National Association for Early Childhood Teacher Educators will honor Jacobson Nov. 20
Aimee LaBrie
Dr. Tamar Jacobson

Dr. Tamar Jacobson

For Dr. Tamar Jacobson, the best teachers are those who are cognizant of their own biases and prejudices in the classroom.

As an Early Childhood Education Program Professor and chair of the Department of Teacher Education at Rider University, she strives to get her students to think more deeply about their day-to-day interactions with children and their parents. This emphasis, combined with theoretical and practical tools, has made Jacobson one of the standout professors at the University and garnered her accolades beyond the campus, most recently from the National Association for Early Childhood Teacher Educators (NAECTE).

On Nov. 20, she will be honored with the Outstanding Teacher Educator Award at a reception during the annual meeting of the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher in Washington, D.C.

This prestigious award recognizes meritorious leadership and professionalism in early childhood teacher education. For those who know Jacobson — who has also received several summer fellowships for her scholarly work at Rider, published dozens of articles and two field specific books (Don't Get So Upset! Help Young Children Manage Their Feelings by Understanding Your Own and Confronting Our Discomfort: Clearing the Way For Anti-Bias in Early Childhood), given more than 200 presentations at international and national levels, and remained an active member of numerous professional organizations — this latest honor comes as no surprise.

“A good leader must be a good listener and Dr. Jacobson’s door is always open for faculty and students to ask her advice.  She has the ability to see the big picture as well as to deal with details,” explains Dr. Slyvia Bulgar from Mathematics Education, who nominated Jacobson for the award.

Jacobson, who is teaching two courses this semester, Issues and Challenges in Early Childhood and a methods course, encourages open dialogue and feedback from her students while at the same time giving them practical information about how to manage their classes. “We talk about how much we should give and how to set boundaries; as well as examining all of the difficulties that arise with children and their behaviors,” she says. “For example, we all want children to comply, but teachers also have to recognize that children are humans and expanding their thoughts. Our role is to guide and help teach them how to be better citizens. Ultimately, how we treat them is going to help them become who they are.”

The same day she will be receiving the award, Jacobson will also be giving a three-hour interactive presentation in D.C. at the National Association for the Education of Young Children, another leading organization in the field. “I’ll talk about brain development, our attachments in our early years and how we view discipline,” she says. “Then we’ll talk about self-reflection. It is key that students understand that they bring their own biases and prejudices into the classroom; that way, they can approach their responses with intelligence rather than just pure emotion reactions.”

Jacobson also believes in asking of herself the same things she requires of her students. “It’s very important that I reflect on my behavior and how I teach,” she says. At the same time, she remains open to students’ feedback.  “Their evaluations of how they feel are very important to me, not because I want to know how much I’m liked, but so I can go back into classroom and adjust my approach to meet their needs.” 

She also strives to give her students options for approaching different situations. Her two books also address many of these issues. “I am very concerned about my students,” Jacobson says. “I want to give them different options for approaching situations, as well as a more compassionate way of viewing the world, both inside and outside of the classroom. I truly care about them and their lives.”

It seems that her students sense this commitment too. Angela Brihn, a former student in one of Jacobson’s childhood education classes, wrote this of her experience with Jacobson: “Ever since taking the course, I find myself using the word ‘kind’ much more often.”