Category Archives: General

Celebrating What’s Right!

This year I have had the privilege of serving as the facilitator for the monthly sessions of 4C’s leadership seminar for administrators. Developing Early Childhood Leaders (DECL) is designed to help administrators further develop leadership and advocacy skills in the field of early childhood education. This month we watched a video titled “Celebrating What’s Right With the World.” Dewitt Jones, a photographer for National Geographic, narrates the video while we see his striking images from all over the world.  He shares experiences and life lessons learned as his job has taken him all over the world.

As I viewed his masterpieces and listened to his pearls of wisdom, one stuck with me and resonated. Dewitt said to celebrate what’s right with the situation instead of griping about what’s wrong. This makes us more receptive to change and gives us the energy to change.

Classroom teachers are dealt a hand each morning that they have very little control over:  Maddie’s mom is angry that her shirt was dirty yesterday, Kerry is acting out in class because her parents are divorcing. Bryce’s dad always drops him off at 6:30 am and he is tired all day in class. At first glance it may be difficult to see what you could possibly celebrate in challenging situations like these, but you have to look closely at each situation and dig deep. Maddie’s mom cares about her daughter’s appearance and is sharing her feelings with you because she feels safe enough to do so. Kerry feels comfortable enough to express her feelings in your classroom because she knows you care about her. Bryce’s dad is a hard worker and values the care you offer each day when he has to be at work early. When you begin to realize what a family’s values are, you will begin to understand the family’s culture.  Understanding the views of our families is essential to providing individualized instruction. We will also have a better line of communication that will make future problems easier to solve.

7 Ways to Manage Stress at Work

The holidays create all kinds of stress, and it can carry over into your work and, inevitably, into your interactions with children, coworkers and families. Here are 7 ways you can manage stress at work.

1. First and foremost, know what is stressing you. Make a list of your stressors. Identify those you have no control over and try your hardest to let them go. Identify those you can control & work on them.

2. One way to help the stressors you can control is to ask for help! I have a friend, Katie, who works at a child care center and is a live-in caretaker for her parents in poor health. Recently, Katie’s mother was admitted to the hospital. Katie spent a lot of time at her mother’s bedside to support and comfort her and eventually her mother pulled through. As a result, Katie got behind in her lesson plans and felt overwhelmed.

When my mother passed away, I took only enough time off from my two jobs for the wake and funeral. I was back to work the next day. I didn’t ask for help. I thought I could handle it by myself. I didn’t want to see Katie make the same mistake I did, so I suggested that she ask her coworkers and director for help and that they would understand. You are not a superhuman. It’s ok to admit when you need a little help.

3. If the stressors get to be too much, take a quick break. My sister takes her lunch out to the car at work and eats it there. She makes an effort to create a separation between work time and HER time, even if it’s just to eat and listen to the radio for 15 minutes.

4. Speaking of eating, make sure you’re not stress-eating. Ask yourself: am I eating because I’m hungry or because I’m stressed? If it isn’t because you’re hungry, don’t eat it, or chew some gum. Also, stop eating before you get full and eat slowly.

5. Laugh. It’s so simple, and it works. I was asked this week to submit my workload to my supervisor for review. Between the 39 trainings I’m trained on (plus 8 more by the end of the year), the 33 trainings I did in the last six months and the 22 centers I’m actively working with, her response was: “What don’t you do?” I responded: “Sleep.” We both got a good laugh out of it.

6. While we’re on the subject, get enough sleep. Sleep is incredibly, incredibly important for managing stress, but don’t do it at work! Even though I joked about it, I do make sure to get 7-8 of sleep on average each night. There have been nights that stress has kept me awake, but I know that if I don’t get enough sleep, chances are I’m going to be extra stressed the next day.

7. Last, but not least, count your blessings—physically. Make a list like you did with your stressors, but of things that you are thankful for. I have done this several times when I’ve been really stressed. It truly helps put things into perspective. Each time I do it, the list gets longer.

Here’s a small sampling: I’m thankful to have a job that I enjoy; I’m thankful that I’m getting married; I’m thankful that my family and I are healthy; I’m thankful that I have an awesome dog; I’m thankful that I have such fabulous coworkers; I’m thankful that I am able to love myself, even with all my quirks (and I’ve got a lot of quirks)!

Do you have any other strategies you use to manage stress, or blessings of your own you’d like to share? Feel free to do so in the comments.

Teachers Matter

There are two boys from the same urban neighborhood, who are in the same grade at different schools. One leaves his fifth grade year testing way above his grade level, along with 90% of his classmates. The other boy finished below grade level, just like he started. Why the difference? Not the curriculum or the school, but the teacher.

Teach for America, which places recent college grads in teaching positions in urban school settings, has the proof that the teacher makes a difference. Studying over 20 years of data, the program identifies characteristics such as history of perseverance, life satisfaction, and leadership achievement as contributors to exceptional teachers. Simply put, we must “identify great teachers, figure out how they got that way, and then create more of them.”  See more here about how children get ahead because of great teachers.

Where Do Words Come From?

Learning is a mysterious thing. How did you come to know that when you look up it is the sky that you see? Or that filling a cup too full of liquid will cause it to overflow? When children learn language, it works the same way.

I found an article in the New York Times about children’s language development recently, and it made me wonder. I asked our infant and toddler specialist about how children develop language, and she said “bathe the children in language, don’t drown them.” I like that. I immediately pictured an adult talking with a child rather than telling the child what to do. She told me about a study that compared the development of children whose parents only talked directly to them (“put your shoes away”, “eat supper”, “sit down”) to those who had conversations with them.  The children who had conversations were significantly more developed in language and communication than the children who were given directives only. 

The article supports what Christine said and the author gives simple advice to parents and caregivers to help boost children’s language development:  “Talk to your child about what they’re focused on. Read to your child often. If they’re in a bilingual home, speak to the child and read to the child in the language that you’re most comfortable with. Speak clearly and naturally and use real words. Show excitement when the child speaks.”

Hmmmmm, I think we can do that.

Learning. Growing. Evolving. The Life of an Early Care and Education Director

We are counting down the days until the Fourth Annual Northern Kentucky Leadership Conference, which is just around the corner. On Friday, May 14, we will look closely at how a director can really invest in quality care. 

Topics for the conference will include brain development, the importance of play, parent involvement, having an anti-bias curriculum and hiring and firing of staff. Participants will have the opportunity to receive five hours of professional development. 

Keynote speaker Larry Griffin is coming to the 4C conference through a generous sponsorship from Kaplan Early Learning Company, where Mr. Griffin works as a National Education Consultant and is one of their most dynamic and requested national speakers. He is a powerful speaker and draws from his vast experience in early education to make his presentations entertaining and relevant. He has trained thousands of teachers, administrators, and parents across this country and in Europe. Mr. Griffin has a B.A. in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and a M.Ed. in Education Administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Mr. Griffin consults with programs that are striving to create effective learning environments. We are excited about Larry Griffin’s keynote and sessions, and are confident he will inspire administrators to achieve higher levels of quality.

4C sponsors three conferences annually. Stay tuned for information about an exciting conference opportunity for teachers, family child care providers, and directors. 

Local early childhood educators recognized statewide!

Each year OAEYC, the Ohio affiliate of The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), recognizes outstanding early childhood leaders from across the state. One of the honorees this year is Patti Gleason, president of Cincinnati Early Learning Centers, Inc. (CELC), who was selected for the “Outstanding Program Administrator Award.” Patti is the longtime leader of a number of exceptional programs in the Cincinnati area. CELC programs are all three-star rated through Ohio’s Step Up To Quality initiative, and her agency was the first in the state to have a three-star rating for all of their centers during the Step Up To Quality pilot. Congratulations Patti! 

Also, 4C Leadership Coach Kathleen Bryan was nominated by her Child Development Associate (CDA) class for the “Outstanding Mentor Award.” While she didn’t receive the award “officially,” I would like to commend Kathleen for her accomplishments as a CDA instructor. She is one of many 4C specialists who serve as mentors for programs and individuals every day. I consider her nomination a representation of 4C’s hard work to improve the quality of early childhood education and care across the region.