Tomorrow is E.C.E. Appreciation Day, and tonight, I’ve been thinking a lot about how fortunate I am to work with such an amazing Early Childhood Educator. Paula Crockett is passionate about students, families, and education, and determined to make every day the best possible one for kids. This is my second year working with Paula, and I realize how much I’ve changed because of her.
- Bells no longer run my life. Yes, I know the times of the periods, and I always have my duty times committed to memory, but I’ve become a lot better at watching kids versus watching the clock. Our times are now “ish-like” even in our daybook, and it’s due to Paula that we have this more student-centred approach.
- It’s about getting to know the whole child. I’ve worked at some schools for many years, and over that time, taught numerous siblings, but I never really made it my goal to know the whole family. This tended to happen in time, but it was never planned. But Paula takes the time to not just get to know the child, but everyone and everything that matters to that child. She learns sibling names, pets, and parents. She knows hockey schedules, basketball games, and baseball practices. Paula realizes that connecting with a child is about more than a surface connection, and now I make it my goal to build better relationships.
- Trees no longer scare me! A couple of years ago, I was so excited to move to a school with an amazing outdoor space. I loved the idea of children climbing trees and taking safe risks in nature, but at first, watching this risk-taking terrified me. I remember my many utterances of “be careful.” Paula’s calmness was something that I just hoped to achieve one day. But with her modelling and the responses of students, I changed … and for the better! Risk-taking in nature often corresponds to risk-taking in the classroom, and if it weren’t for Paula, I would have stifled many students from taking these risks.
- Our tone matters! Paula is calm — really calm — and she always uses this tone with children. Even if a child is crying, she’ll say something along the lines of, “_______, you seem really sad. What’s up?” She is always there to comfort with her kind words and supportive actions, but by staying calm, students respond calmly as well. Tears stop. Problems are discussed. And we don’t inadvertently make these problems worse. Stuart Shanker talks a lot about the impact that an adult’s ability to self-regulate can have on a child, and Paula shows me the power of this every single day. My cries of, “Oh no! What’s wrong?,” have slowly changed to calmer responses, and ultimately result in calmer kids.
- Genuine play is different! Paula knows how to play with kids — like really play. She inserts her way into a conversation in a way that I still strive to do, and makes those genuine connections that change the responses from children. It’s because of Paula that I’ve gotten better at getting down with students, listening to them, and extending play. I’m still working on this, but learning how to play is a skill … and one that I continue to learn from Paula.
Mrs. Crockett is explaining to Dr. Annabel why the dog is at the vet. pic.twitter.com/A3Msyr8owy
— Aviva Dunsiger (@avivaloca) May 3, 2017
Early Childhood Educators have an incredible knowledge of child development. They understand kids … and with a Kindergarten Document that puts children at the centre of learning, there’s something to be said for what we can learn from E.C.E.’s.
So as E.C.E. Appreciation Day dawns, consider what you’ve learned from an Early Childhood Educator. How has an E.C.E. helped change your practices? And if you have not had an opportunity to learn from an Early Childhood Educator, try to take the time to make this valuable connection. You will not be disappointed! I’m glad that Paula has helped change me (for the better), and I know that she will continue to do so in the years to come!
With much admiration and a whole lot of thanks, I’d like to say, “Happy E.C.E. Appreciation Day!” #YouMatter