This weekend in a small Montreal café I watched people pass in their puffy, fur lined hooded coats. As I sipped my creamy latte, swirled caramel bananas on my crepe, I realized I was completely relaxed.Back to work today it should have been chalked up to a stressful day; most administration out ill, a adult had a fall, the childcare is in a flu outbreak, notified of a 2 week deadline for a government financial document and as I was leaving a child threw up in the hallway.
I had a good day! Why? Because my weekend away gave me renewed perspective & indulging in a 9 hour train ride gifted me time to read Amy Poehler’s book “Say Yes”.
Remember your career is like a bad boyfriend. It likes it when you depend on it. It will reward you every time you don’t act needy. It will chase you if you act like other things (passion, friendship, family, longevity) are important to you.
That made a lot of weird sense.
We don’t all have the same kind or degrees of stress, nor do we require the same solutions however I’ve discovered a growing trend of stress & anxiety among Early Childhood Educators(ECE’s) In researching the topic of stress & speaking with colleagues within our province, I realize I’m not alone in this observation.Experts from George Brown College are inviting Ont. ECE’s to take part in a research project to examine the occupational stressors. http://www.survey.georgebrown.ca. I look forward to the results & development of a provincial plan to support our educators, but I can’t wait for that.
I did my own survey.I asked our educators to tell us what their work stressors are.The theory we use with children is that when a basic human need is not being met it creates stress and tension.Using the same protocol I laid Tony Robbins’ six human needs over the data collected at our staff meeting & was surprised that the common thread was CERTAINTY. This had a link to being overwhelmed with the complexity of children’s needs within their care.I was excited by this discovery & energized to support our educators.
5 ways we have begun to support our educators:
1 . Focusing on educator and parent relationships.Turning our orientation visits around so the child & parent visit the centre prior to the formal orientation.The supervisor then tailors it to the parent’s questions and can offer a “warm referral” to facilitate community resources for the child & family to ensure a successful transition.Certainty in the parent-educator relationship provides for a peaceful atmosphere.
2. Focus on Educator & Administration relationships making decisions using kindness as the lens, being present physically in the classroom & mentally with regular coaching. Certainty in availability & positive disposition builds trust.
3. Providing educators with a month long schedule shift.Certainty in lessening last minute staffing schedule changes provides stability for educators who have other life commitments.
4. Attract more call in staff. Administration is making concentrated marketing effort to hire more educators who embrace & embody our core values.(this has been the most challenging to accomplish).Certainty for the educator to be able to take a sick, personal or vacation day & know the quality of care will not be compromised.
5. Providing professional development and time for reflection on weighty topics such as professionalism & behavior guidance particularly for children with complex needs & school aged children.Certainty in how to handle the unexpected behavior.
This is just the beginning, but by sharing that we care enough to start somewhere to address their stress & working to provide a sense of certainty by walking this journey with them, we believe this will grow a culture of peace and deep seeded joy.
Side note: Surprising, I didn’t tell my “bad boyfriend” I was going to Montreal and somehow he found me. Next time I might invite him along.