We Don’t say Those Words in Class!!

 

As I was getting ready to write my blog this week I was trying to think back to a time when I may have used these words, or have heard someone use these words with a child in a classroom.  I could not think of one time.  That is not to say that those words were never spoken, but to be honest I was maybe not really listening.  I have heard teachers respond in negative ways to children when they say things like “you can’t come to my birthday”, or “you are not my friend”.

Years ago, I was out shopping with my two daughters.  My oldest daughter had to be about five at the time and my youngest about two.  We were waiting in line at the grocery store when my oldest daughter asked me if the lady in front of us was pregnant.  I immediately felt embarrassed and I know that the lady in front of us heard her because she looked a little sad when my daughter said it.  What was my reaction?  I just said “no” and tried to divert her attention.  Now this is something that I am sure has happened more than one and with many different situations.  Honestly at the time I was a young parent who had very little experience with these situations, much less had experience with my own parents talking to me about differences with people. 

Looking back at this now, and knowing what I know now, I think I would have handled things differently.  I would have taken more time to explain to my daughter that she was not pregnant, but just had a bigger body size.  I would have explained that all people are different and that is okay.  Maybe we would have look at some pictures of different body sizes or looked-for people with different body shapes/sizes as we were shopping.  When I think back to how I handled this with my daughter she may have thought that being bigger or fat was a terrible thing.  She may also have felt that she did something wrong (let’s face it children say these things all the time), and she may have even felt shame. 

If this had happened in a class that I taught I would find some pictures with people who have different body shapes/sizes.  I would also try to find books to have on the bookshelf or to read to the children.  We could also compare our own bodies and how we are different. 

I feel that children get so many messages about body size and shape within the media.  I feel that this is having a massive impact on how children feel about themselves.  We can make a difference and children can feel better about themselves and others.  I think that it is more important for children to learn about being healthy and having healthy habits, then focusing on what size a person is.  As we start to have more conversations with children it will help children see differences in a new light.

Start Seeing Diversity

Over the next few weeks, my blog will be centered around the Video “Start Seeing Diversity”.  This video, shows ways in which educators can promote anti-bias curriculum in their classrooms, as well as how us adults working with children can transform our teaching.

For this blog, the two topics of discussion are gender and sexual orientation.  Both topics have been what I would consider almost “taboo” for many years.  Many books, toys, and movies are still very gender oriented, as well the attitudes that parents have about how their children play.  As I prepared for this assignment this week, I looked around the center that I work at, and I noticed a few things.  The first thing is that the dress up clothes in most housekeeping areas were very girl specific.  The choices were dresses, purses, and hats.  The next thing that I noticed is that most of the girls were playing in areas such as housekeeping and boys were playing more in areas like the block area. 

I do feel that over the years I have had many parents express that they do not want their boys playing with dolls, nor do they want them dressing up in dresses.  The way that they acted I felt as if they thought their children would be gay just because of the choices that they were making during free play.  About a year ago, I found a picture on Facebook of a little boy playing with a doll, and the caption said something to the effect of “practicing being a good daddy”.  I really wanted to make copies of this and hand them out to all the parents.  Unfortunately, the other downside is usually when children are discouraged by their parents to play with certain toys, they won’t choose those toys again.  The two questions that I feel the video raised this week are; 1. Do we rate girls more on their appearance and boys more on their performance, and 2, Is it stereotype or truth?

The center where I work does have a family with two moms.  When they started coming to the center, a parent was very upset because they saw a family picture hanging on the wall with the two moms.  She was concerned that her child would be exposed to something that went against her morals and values.  This was a wonderful opportunity for our center to take a stand, and show that we support all families.  Basically, it became our stand that all families are welcome, and that we will make sure that all families are represented in our classrooms.  Today as I look around the center I see many items that represent this.  We have books, posters, and photos that show diversity among families.  I have also heard conversations that the teachers have had with the children about family diversity. 

I think that it is important for us to help educate parents on why an anti-bias approach is so important and how we are not only trying to protect the children in our work place, but also make this a world for all children to be accepted.  As the video pointed out this week we need to help all children gain good identity, and help them to acknowledge that there are differences. 

 

References

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Start seeing diversity: Sexual orientation [Video file].  Retrieved from Walden University

Moving On

It is that time once again as we draw to the end of another class.  I just wanted to thank everyone for all their support as well as sharing.  I feel that many times we tend to put our hearts into our work and it really does show!  I am so thankful for being able to read your thoughts, feelings and ideas.  This has been a wonderful experience.  While some of you I have known since I started this journey, I am also thankful for the fresh faces and names.  I have three classes left, and as the end draws near I wonder what will happen and how my life will change.  This is not over yet, and I am excited to move on to the next step!!  Thanks, Everyone!!

If you want to get ahold of me send me a message cynthia.salvador@waldenu.edu

 

 

Saying Goodbye

 

A couple years ago I was involved with a committee that held a convention every year in our state.  I had been on the board for over 5 years.  And I was also a member of the executive committee.  I enjoyed being a part of this group, and it was a lot of challenging work, a lot of frustration at times, but it was also very rewarding and hard to say goodbye when I left the board.

 

Every year the convention was help in October, right after the convention ended on Sunday we would take time to do what is referred to as the adjourning phrase.   We would meet and give each other Kudos and just take a few minutes to reflect on how things went.  We did not get into details it was more of a celebration that we did an excellent job.

 

Then we would meet again in December to go over more details of what could be improved on, and, we talked about how the convention did that year.   Then we would meet in January to elect new people on the board, and that is when I left.  While I knew, it was coming it was so very hard.  It is almost as if one stage of your life is ending and a new one is beginning.  At the end of every meeting we do a group hug and say the serenity prayer, this is when I lost it. 

 

I am not too sure what will happen when we graduate.  Is there some type of ritual we will have?  I am unsure…but it will be interesting to find out.  I know that I have been in school for the last two years doing my BA then this program…. I know that I will have to readjust to life without school. 

 

Conflict Resolution

 

This week as I was preparing for my blog, I thought about a situation that I was in about a year ago.  The job I have currently is the position that I started about five years ago.  Two years ago, I decided that I needed to take a little break from being a lead teacher, so I went to go work with a friend of mine in the preschool room.  While we got along swimmingly, working together was not the best idea.  To say the least we both had very different communication skills, and very diverse ways of communicating.

Taking responsibility for my own actions I would have to say that I became a great escapist.  Because I knew that conflict with her would usually not end in a terrific way I would do anything possible not to engage in any conflict at all.  As a result, I was not very happy, felt unappreciated, and would walk on eggshells around her all the time.

So what have I learned that could help me today if I were still in this situation (I went back to lead teaching almost a year ago)? 

First, I would ask more questions.  I would try harder to work together as a team, and try to find compromise in situations that were difficult to solve.  I feel that by asking questions I could get a better understanding of her perspective without if I know what is going on.

But what also goes hand in hand with this is what we learned from last week.  Because In this situation I became such a great escape artist, I would need to have my feelings identified, and my wants.  By taking a NVC I could tell her how I feel and what I needed in the situation instead of not having my own goals or needs expressed.  I know that this is something that I do struggle with, and I know that it has its root from how I grew up.  Defiantly something for me to work on!!

Communication skills

This week I asked my daughter as well as a co-worker of mine to score me on the three tests that scored my communication skills.  Here are the results:

Verbal aggression: 66/65/68 The results were overall that I am a respectful communicator. 

Communication Anxiety: 42/31/46 The results showed that I am not as anxious as I may feel I get when talking to a group of people.  This also showed me that while I may feel anxious other people do not see that in me as much as I feel it in myself.

Listening: 39/34/34 people oriented.  I feel that I must agree with this score, I am a people person!

What surprised me this week is that all the scores were close, and that all the scores came up with the same results.  I sometimes feel that I do a good job communicating, I feel that I do try to reflect and improve my skills, so it was nice to see that other rated me the way I rated myself.  As I mentioned before I was surprised to see that other rated me as being confident when speaking to groups.  I feel that maybe I place that anxiety on myself and other may not see it as much as I feel it.

What I learned this week is that it is important to understand how others perceive your communication skills.  If I would have scored differently than my daughter and co-worker, it would have given me a chance to evaluate myself and find out what I could change to be better.  As a professional working in the field of early childhood I feel that we are always communication to people.  By reflecting my own communication abilities, I can build or grow in these areas.  After taking the anxiety test I also feel that I would be less anxious and more confident to talk to a group of parents or professionals. 

  I feel also that just by taking the tests I understand more personally about the way I communicate with others.  I do agree with the results.  Understanding how I communicate with others can help me understand if I need to change the way I communicate, or how I communicate with others. 

Changes in Communication

This week we were asked to reflect on the idea “do you find yourself communicating differently with people from different groups and cultures?”

I would have to say YES!!  I would not talk to my significant other the way I talk to my children, nor would I talk the same way to co-workers or my best friend.  The tone of voice, the way I talk, the non-verbal language that I would use would all be different.  When thinking in terms of culture, every person has their unique culture as well, so I always feel that we are moving in and out of different context’s while we engage with others.

Some of the differences may be in how well you know a person, what type of relationship you have with a person, if it is a profession relationships, a child, or even if you are talking with parents.  The voice and tone that you would use with children, you would not use with older people and most likely not your significant other.  In conversations with professions I may tend to use more jargon than I would with parents.  And in my close friendships and relationships I may be more open and honest in my communications, and more relaxed with my non-verbal language. 

So, what can we do to communicate better?  I suggest the following:

1.      Keep in mind that everyone has their own culture, and be respectful of how others feel.  If you are finding difficulties in communicating with a person/group of people figure out why.  Sometimes we may have bias and not even realize that we are acting on it.

2.      Use the platinum rule “Do to others as they themselves would like to be treated”

3.      You can also form a “third culture” this will help when communication issues arise.  How do you do this? TALK.  The third culture is “characterized by unique values and norms that may not have existed prior to the two-person relationship”.

References:

Beebe, S. A., Beebe, S. J., & Redmond, M. V. (2011). Interpersonal communication: Relating to others (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.