The other day, I was at the playground while visiting a school. The playground is a wonderful place full of adventures for young children. There is a wooden play structure, a hill, a dirt digging area, ample grass and trees throughout the space. As the rain came down, one of the children was running across the playground. As he surged forward, he tripped. Face down into the water and mud. All of the teachers in the yard held their collective breath. It was a mighty fall. By silent agreement, the teachers waited to see what happened. The child picked himself up, he looked around – seeing that the teachers were watching and waiting but not moving forward. He then took both his hands and wiped the mud from his face. Lifting himself, he continued to run towards his destination.
I am once again reminded of the importance of waiting to see what happens before reacting to a situation. The teachers on the playground collectively waited to see what the child would do. When we, as educators, provide the space young children need – we create a level of trust in the children – in their own capabilities that are missing if we jump in.
The voices of early childhood educators have power. Our ability to make visible our practice is one of the best tools for advocacy that we have. To tell a story that is short, touches on emotions, and shares a value or belief about the importance of the work – has impact on parents, communities, and policy makers alike.
Telling our stories can take a little practice; here are some tips to keep in mind.
Identify an experience that you had as an educator that resonated with you.
Reflect on what made that experience so important – connect that importance to a value you have about education –in my case the value of trusting children and honoring their space and time to process a situation.
Develop a brief introduction to your experience that situates your story – often this is a little bit about the content of the story.
Make sure to remove any identifying factors to protect the child and demonstrate your professionalism.
Close your story with the main point that you are trying to illustrate.
Helping others to see the intention in our daily practice is part of what supports us on the road to being seen as professionals.