Archive for Being Intentional

08 Sep 2015

Another (school) year begins…

2 Comments Being Intentional

Today marks the beginning of yet another school year for many of us here in Canada. For me, this particular year is unique in that it’s the first year in a long time, when I am not heading back to school as a student. I have just recently completed and defended my Master’s research, and so, for now, my journey as a student has come to an end. That being said, my journey as a learner and an educator continues on.

I am continuing on in my position at the college where I work, and am looking forward to meeting my students (new and returning) in our first classes this week. I enjoy my role as a “teacher of teachers” and with my own studies at rest for now, I am excited to be able to devote even more of my energy to being an engaged educator. As I have spoken about before, I want to commit to being intentional in my practice. To be present with my students, to reflect on what happens in my classes and in my interactions, and to continue to learn and grow in ways which will support my students and my own journey as a life long learner.

I hope to share some of my thoughts and reflections on this blog, and to become re-engaged with the online learning communities which have nurtured me in the past. As such, I am going to try to blog on a more regular basis, and to engage more through social media. Perhaps I’ll be successful, perhaps not. Only time will tell.

For those of you “returning” to school, as students or educators, what are your goals for this upcoming year?

23 Nov 2013

Embracing the Early Years

1 Comment Being Intentional, Canadian ECE, Early Childhood Education, Personal Learning Network

Anyone who follows me on Twitter will know that I’ve been at a conference these past few days. As my sister put it I’ve been “blowing up [her] Twitter feed”. As I’m still processing everything, I’m sure I’ll have more to say in a few days, but I wanted to put out a quick post while I’m still on my conference high.

First of all, I met a lot of amazing people this week. Men and women who are working in the field of Early Childhood Education in a lot of capacities, including home child care, centre based child care, parent and family support, post-secondary education and many more. They came in from all across Ontario to learn together, which is an incredible thing, and always an enriching experience to get to learn and share with each other about our many varied experiences.

All of the Keynote speakers were amazing. Today, Lisa Murphy aka the Ooey Gooey Lady re-energized us on our last day by making us laugh and reminding us all of how much we have in common. One great take-away from that was that we should never ever underestimate the value of what we do or compromise our practice because of what others are doing or wanting us to do. Dr. Paul McGhee reminded us that humour is mental play, and taught us all the art of a good belly laugh. Dr. Stuart Shanker helped us to understand stress in ourselves and in the children that we care for, because we need to understand stress in order to self-regulate.  Dr. Paul Kershaw reminded us of the pressures undergoing Generation Squeeze and encouraged us to rally together for change. Nora Spinks, along a similar line, tried to show us the light when it came to finding work-life balance. Dr. Jean Clinton reminded us of the importance of relationships when it comes to brain development.

The workshops that I went to were equally amazing, which is also what I heard from others with regards to their workshops. What struck me about all of these workshops and keynotes, was this almost hidden thread running through all of them. That thread was about caring for the caregiver. On the surface this may have been a conference called “Embracing the Early Years“, it may have been a conference about working with very young children in their families, but what it came back to time and time again, was how important it was to be self-aware, to be self-reflective, to take care of ourselves so that we are equipped to take care of children and families. That’s my big “take home”, that’s what will really stay with me. I think that’s something every Early Childhood Educator should remember. We are our “best practice”, all of the education and the training and the equipment in the world won’t do us any good if we don’t take care of ourselves so that we can use it.

My deepest thanks go out to all of the committee members and the partners that put on this great conference. I hope there will be more in the future.

Conference Partners (in case you want to check them out).

Affiliated Services for Children and Youth

The Halton Resource Connection

Home Child Care Association of Ontario

Hamilton Best Start

Halton Our Kids Network

Guelph Wellington Quality Child Care Initiative

Early Childhood Professional Resource Centre

Conestoga College

Mohawk College

Sheridan College

21 Jan 2013

How to Raise Compassionate Children

1 Comment Being Intentional, Parenting, Social, Socio-Emotional Development

We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say “It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.” Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes. – Fred  Rogers

As responsive caregivers we are setting the foundation for empathy right from the very beginning of a child’s life. By responding appropriately to them we are showing them that we are aware of their needs and feelings. Through our actions they learn that their caregivers provide what they need, whether it’s food, a change or simply love and comfort. When infants get older and become mobile we begin to see them display empathy. I’ve seen many older infants and young toddlers bring a crying child a toy or other comfort object. They are beginning to respond to others in an empathetic way. Clearly we are born with a need for caring relationships, a need to engage others and even to empathize with them and to help. We are born with the capacity for compassion.

So what then do we do to nurture this ability in children? How do empathetic children become compassionate adults? How do we help children to learn to help others? How old do we have to be to learn compassion?

I think that the best way that we can help children to have compassion and to help others is through our own actions. Many of us donate our money and our time to help those less fortunate than ourselves, however, how much of this do our children see? If we’re simply writing cheques, how will our children become aware of our contributions? For those who keep busy schedules, sometimes the only way to contribute is financially, and that’s fine. I would encourage you, however to try to do this in a way that your children are aware of your contributions. Use the labels and cards that charities often send to accompany a donation. Tell the children where these items came from and what the money you gave went towards. If they are old enough, have conversations with them about what charities you support and ask what charities they would like to support by asking who they would like to help or how.

Some others ways to demonstrate compassion would be to make it a regular occurrance to go through your home and gather clothes that don’t fit, toys or household items that are no longer used. Pack these items up and take them to the donation centre together. When children are old enough they can start to make their own choices about what toys to keep and which to donate. If you volunteer and it’s appropriate, take your child with you. They might be too young to make a significant contribution, however, simply being present to see the work that you are doing will impact them. If we model these actions and behaviours right from the start, children will grow up with this type of work as a normal part of their lives and I think that’s the goal. As they grow and develop, so will their involvement and I think that children can certainly surprise us with their capacity to care and desire to help others.

My hope is that the next generation will be more caring, more empathetic and more compassionate than ever before.

08 Jan 2013

My Image of the Child

No Comments Being Intentional

This semester I’m teaching one of my favorite courses, Infants and Toddlers. I enjoy this course in part because this age group fascinates me, the amount of learning that occurs in the first three years is incredible, and also because of how important the caregiver’s role is with this age group. I think that all too often in the field of early childhood education the focus is on the preschool/kindergarten age group, and although that is certainly important, in my experience it sometimes leaves ECEs feeling unprepared to work with infants and/or toddlers. Although we have a limited amount of time in this course, I hope that over the next few months, I will be able help my students to develop their own rich images of infants and toddlers, with an understanding of how capable and unique they are.

One of the ways that we use to get the students to start thinking about what they already know about infants and toddlers is to literally have them draw an image of an infant or a toddler. At the end of the course, I think that I will have them go back to these images and reflect on how their image of the young child has changed through our discussions. This also has me thinking about my own image of the child, be it infant, toddler or preschooler. As I have tried to consider how I can be more intentional in my practice I have to go back to my image of the child. Am I acting in a way that reflects my image of the child? If I believe that children are capable of problem solving, do I allow them opportunities to do so? I don’t believe in the necessity of adult enforced sharing, however I have intervened in squabbles over toys from time to time. I often struggle with my desire to pick up a crying baby, without first addressing the reason that the infant is communicating. As I strive towards being more intentional in my interactions with young children, I am reminded that I need to keep my image of the child at the forefront of my mind. I need to allow my beliefs about how children learn to dictate my actions, rather than the stress of the moment or trying to “fit in” to my surroundings.

That’s what I love about teaching, how it helps me to keep reflecting and to keep learning.

Photo by mikebaird on Flickr

01 Jan 2013

Be Intentional

4 Comments Being Intentional, Canadian ECE

I’m not usually someone who makes a New Year’s Resolution, although I am someone who tries to examine my life and to set goals on semi-regular basis. As I mentioned in my last post I think that it’s important that each of us make it part of our practice to continually reflect on our own behaviours and to use those reflections to inform the way that we move forward. That being said, this year I have decided to make a resolution of sorts. This year I resolve to be intentional. That’s all, just those two words- be intentional. They will become my mantra for 2013. I want to be more intentional is every aspect of my life, including both my personal and professional life. All too often I have found myself simply going through the motions because I’ve been busy or tired or stressed out and although going through the motions is certainly a means to an end, that’s not the way that I want to live. I want to be present and intentional in my actions. I want to be conscious not only of what I am doing, but also why I am doing it. I want to take back control over my own actions and live more intentionally.

Now, I also know that one of the most important aspects of goal-setting is to identify specific and concrete ways to achieve your goals. I will admit that I’m still working on specific ways I will support my resolution to be intentional, but I will certainly share them as I develop them. The first thing I’m going to tackle is this blog. Up until this point I have posted here when I have been inspired and had the time, or really when the stars have aligned. However, this blog is a way for me to reflect on my beliefs and practices as they relate to child development and early childhood care and education, I want to be more intentional is using it for that. So, having heard that BlogHer is making every month National Blog Posting Month,  which challenges bloggers to post every single day for a month, that’s going to be my first concrete goal. A month long goal is smaller and therefore more attainable, and I hope this will help me to reflect not only on my work, but on my resolution to be more intentional. Wish me luck.

Photo by Baddog_ on Flickr