Personal Childhood Web

  I was fortunate to know my grandparents well into my adult life. Knowing them as an adult gave me a new perspective of my parents as children and even my own childhood history. My maternal grandparents never graduated from high school yet they pushed to ensure that my mother and her siblings completed high […]

Grandmother's heart

My brothers and I

My maternal grandparents meeting the last great-grandchild born before they passed within a year of each other.

My grandfather

My Mom. My greatest inspiration comes from her.

My Dad and I on his 77th birthday.

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I was fortunate to know my grandparents well into my adult life. Knowing them as an adult gave me a new perspective of my parents as children and even my own childhood history. My maternal grandparents never graduated from high school yet they pushed to ensure that my mother and her siblings completed high school. Both my dad and his mother only completed the eleventh grade but my dad went on to get his high school GED. His father’s hard work and dedication earned him a position as lieutenant colonel in the United States Army. I’m proud to say that my brothers and I are college graduates, each of us putting ourselves through school.

What I do know is that they all gave us a sense of purpose, pride and determination. Our father taught us to lead and cut our own path in life. He said following your peers is easy but being unique is what makes you special. My dad wore many hats when I was a child. He had a long military career in the United States Air Force, sold insurance, was a bartender, a security guard and finally retired working as a budget analyst for the United States Army. His greatest teaching tool was he never gave us the answer to any question we asked. Instead he would tell us to go find the answer and come back to him. Even after we got the answer, his response was to steadily question it and then ask “did you consider the gray factor?” My dad was an only child so as children we spent more time with his parents than my maternal grandparents. Each summer visit was filled with going to the museums and learning about different cultures. My love of music, entertaining and reading comes from them. My passion to know my history and pass it down grew from them. My step-grandmother was the director of the East Orange public library for many years and I remember each summer following her around the library gazing at walls and walls filled with history and adventure. My dad’s mother was a seamstress by trade. Most of my clothes wer made by her. She loved the simple things in life, giving back to those less fortunate. She used to throw the most amazing get-togethers and parties. Every detail had to be just right. She always made every guest feel that she planned just for them. My paternal grandfather was a tall stern man. When he spoke there was always a lesson learned about determination. “Keep digging” he would say, “if one way doesn’t work find a new direction and try again”. At 95 he was my last grandparent to depart this earth. One of his proudest moments he said was meeting his only great-grandchild. All of my grandparents were able to meet my son except my paternal grandmother, but I know she smiles upon him everyday.

My mother’s parents were hard working and their family was close knit. Everything revolved around family, being productive and knowing your self-worth. My MawMaw believed in honesty and was very opinionated. She always said she rather the truth hurt and being able to move on than to make a mistake you can’t take back. My mother who never went to college went on to become a social services director in my hometown. She’s now studying to become a minister. Her passion has always been about helping people. My parents divorced when I was twelve. I was use to my mother staying at home and not working. My brothers never had that luxury for she worked. I remember my childhood going from being waited on to helping out and being mini mom to my brothers. We had many challenges yet she never wavered in her faith or her determination to provide for us and ensure we went on to make something of ourselves. Pity had no place in our house. She remained positive and optimistic about everything. This is the most valuable thing I’ve learned from her. No matter the obstacle, no matter how long it takes to overcome there is a silver lining in every situation.

My childhood web represents the most important people in the world to me, my parents, grandparents and brothers.

My Journey Continues

“Opportunities to make change”

For the life of an educator, these words ring at the core of our being.  It is what makes us continue to promote new ideas, research and explore new possibilities.  When I started this journey three years ago, my mind was an open sponge.  Today I find that my sponge has enlarged abundantly.  The beauty of education is that as long as you have an open mind, you continue to learn, to process, adapt and make change.

The assignment that resonated the most with me this term was the discussion on attachment.  From birth, we learn.  Edelman (2016) commented in a recent child watch column how from the time we are born we are “wired” to interact with people.  Good, bad or indifferent it’s these attachments that we make that allows us to grow and adapt to each circumstance of our lives.  Experiences can make us resilient and strong, and others can leave us feeling insecure, unwanted and emotionally detached.  Repeated emotional trauma as studies report find “that children who combine a behaviorally inhibited temperament with an insecure attachment status display the highest levels of anxiety disorders symptoms”, (Muris et al., 2011, p 158).

How we respond as parents and educators can make a world of difference to a child who needs reassurance.  A colleague of mine, Kim Edwards brought up one of the most critical components that we can provide the children that we encounter; that is that the backdrop or story of a child is critical in how they learn.  As Edwards (2016) stated poignantly “When people hear a story that they can relate to they are more likely to empathize with the story and act upon it”.

Early childhood development lays the foundation or the blueprint of how children flourish mentally, physically and emotionally.  They absorb and learn so much before they begin the first grade.  The seeds we plant has to grow strong roots in order for them to navigate through life.  As I continue to pursue my studies in the field, I still feel strongly that working in the early childhood education field I can make a difference.  In my love for reading, I want to continue to challenge children to read and love the sound of their voice, on paper and out loud in their own words.  For children to communicate and be vocal early in life sets the stage for exploration and learning.

As educators we can help promote that opportunity by becoming their advocate.  We can help deter physical and emotional abuse if we allow ourselves to be open to listen and show we care.  We can show a child a world full of wonderment that they want to be excited about.  We have to take those opportunities to teach when and where we see them.  That’s my dream.  It has become my goal.

Last week when I was recording my advocacy piece on resilience, my husband listened quietly from the hall.  When I finished he told me that I had to find a way to use my voice on this journey towards my new career.  So, I hope you continue to follow my blog.  Starting next month, I’m committing to incorporating a podcast every month regarding a current issue in early childhood education on my page.  I look forward to any comments you all have to offer.

 

Reference

Edelman, M. W. (2016).  Mother’s Day Call to Action.  Retrieved from  http://cdf.childrensdefense.org/site/MessageViewer?dlv_id=46320&em_id=45471.0

Edwards, K. (2016).  Child Development and Learning: Attachment.  Retrieved from http://kimedwardssite.wordpress.com

Laureate Education (Producer). (2015m). Vision of the field of early childhood [Audio file]. Baltimore, MD: Author

Muris, P., Brakel, A., Arntz, A., & Schouten, E. (2011). Behavioral Inhibition as a Risk Factor for the Development of Childhood Anxiety Disorders: A Longitudinal Study. Journal Of Child & Family Studies, 20(2), 157-170.

 

 

Effective Communication

good_communication6-

“Whether collaboration is new or familiar, we must see ourselves as global partners who harness our diversity to travel together toward a shared destination” (Winer & Ray, 1994, p30).  Winer and Ray (1994) talks about the road travelled and how our influences based on language, cultural and society affects our decision making.  In our conversations as educators sometimes our roads are clearly defined and at others we chose which fork in the road to follow.  Teamwork and effective communication is essential to establishing rapport and trust with our students and their families, as well as other colleagues and support personnel.  When we respect, reciprocate and resolve to not only listen to the conversation, but observe non-verbal queues to ascertain the exact message that is being presented we show that we are vested in the conversation.  We should always be mindful of the quote above whether we’re communicating on a personal or professional What I’ve learned is the value of the leadership role in team collaborations.  Leadership should provide cohesiveness, allow for shared power and responsibility among team members, and should be able to resolve conflict issues before they escalate.  Being aware of challenges and shortcomings is just as important as knowing when to regroup if tasks or goals aren’t being met or resources not being fully utilized.

With a solid foundation now set in the core subjects, I move onto the specialization of Administration, Management and Leadership in Early Childhood Studies.  I take these tools with me in the hopes that I can help facilitate change and make positive strides in the educating of educators and support personnel responsible in their daily task of teaching and learning from our youth.  Thank you to Dr. Parrish and all of my colleagues along the way who have shared their experiences and offered invaluable advice.  My goal is to continue this blog after my studies complete as I continue my journey to continue to build my resources and share information.  Best wishes and I’ll be blogging soon!

Reference

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

Winer, M., & Ray, K. (1994). Collaboration handbook: Creating, sustaining, and enjoying the journey. St. Paul, MN: Fieldstone Alliance

Observing Microaggressions

In our discussions this week we’ve discussion several types of microaggressions. Dr. Sue defines microaggressions as “brief everyday indignities that are verbal, behavioral or environmental, that they may be intentional or unintentionally communicated to women, to people of color, to gay/lesbians that have an insulting message behind them that often time causes severe psychological distress and harm” (Laureate Education, 2011). My example of such witnessed behavior is below.

Last week I observed an interesting interaction between a senior manager and a colleague of mine. Over the course of the last three years, the various IT departments have been merging into one division. The organization has elected to adopt the infrastructure of the current contract team that I along with my colleague and senior manager is assigned to. The primary responsibility of our organization is to ensure that each IT task is properly managed from security concerns to daily operational procedures and to provide excellent customer care to our clients.

The senior manager, who is African-American, responsible for our specific contract is fairly new to the team. There are three women, one white and two black (one of which is me) that comprises this mostly male dominated team. The cultural diversity of our team is well blended with several Middle Eastern, Caribbean, African, United States Caucasian and African-American staff members. Upon his arrival, he made a statement that he would personally meet each staff person and get a broad view of our job responsibilities and concerns. The conversation took place with two team leads and a few other staff members. I have been team lead of my group for seven years. He’s had conversations with my co-worker about our duties but has yet to ask me anything specifically. The manager has made snide comments passing them as light humor which many of the staff members are uncomfortable with. I don’t think it’s his intention to be blatantly insensitive but his verbal and non-verbal cues scream “I’m more superior than you, deal with it attitude”. This attitude is not only being observed by direct staff members, but other colleagues from other agencies as well. After a couple of weeks, the senior manager initiated several office changes to the dismay of the staff that was not open for review or discussion. The manager often mentions his former career in the military as his defining character of discipline and order. His efforts and commands come across extremely rigid and unbending.

Last week, there was a meeting to introduce some new policies and team members to a sub-division of the operations staff. The other black female on our team has met with the senior manager a few times to address valid integration issues coming our way and how they are going to be managed. She is well-respected, and has been involved in implementing procedures and policies for her specific job function for several years without incident. Each meeting the senior manager has been dismissive and not taking her initiatives or comments seriously. The senior manager scheduled a meeting regarding the integration meeting without consulting her or her team lead, who always has agreed with the initiatives and policies she’s helped implement. Minutes prior to the meeting he told her “there will be no bantering initiated by you”. The entire office heard him and the tone of his voice was extremely offensive. Because she voiced her concerns in a professional manner that he was unhappy with and took five minutes away from the office to compose herself after being belittled, the manager contacted her primary hiring company and had her reprimanded for insubordination. His actions could cost my colleague her job.

There are so many wrongs I can’t name them all. I’ve decided to address my direct concerns at our next all hands meeting to see if the posture he takes is regarding the entire team or he’s targeting specific individuals. I’d like to believe that all of my life experiences has prepared me to work in a professional and courteous manner with any person that I meet. As an educator and parent, I try to maintain a conscious level of compassion in my discussions on cultural and diversity and to respectful of other’s values even if they are in direct conflict with mine. By showing them that respect I believe we can find compromises and understandings. For those unwilling to change, I will still show them the same courtesy and respect that I’ve been taught to show.

Reference

Laureate Education (Producer). (2011). Microaggressions in everyday life [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

My Family Culture

It would be difficult for me to categorize three things that I owned that summed up my life or represented a heritage that I’m proud to be a part of. If I were placed in a situation where I had no choice and knew I wasn’t returning to the land of my birthplace, one of the items I would bring would be the journal I started writing for my son before he was born. Diligently for the first year I wrote about the journey his dad and I were embarking upon, his arrival. Each year since his birth I update it with memories of accomplishments, family history but mostly to give him a sense of worth, determination and reference of what we endured that year. My journal to him captures more than what pictures show of how he grew from a thought, to a baby and continuing to grow into adulthood. It helps tell our story and reaffirm to him what’s important in life. What I was taught, I instill those same lessons to my son every day of his life. My family taught me that having faith, maintaining your self-respect and knowing your self-worth will get you through any circumstance placed before your feet.

The second item would be my iPod. Music played an important role in our family. Music, like writing is my heartbeat and therapeutic. I remember as a child visiting my paternal grandparents and hearing jazz and big band on Saturday mornings while we cleaned. My maternal grandparents and their Saturday drives and gathering to play dominoes listening to Muddy Waters, B.B. King and Ray Charles. My uncle returning from the Vietnam War and sounds of War, Earth Wind and Fire and the Isley Brothers blaring through the speakers of his Thunderbird. My Dad rocking his head to the sounds of the Doobie Brothers, The Eagles, Chicago, ELO, Santana and southern rock. My mom and Sunday mornings filled with worship and praise, singing along to the Hawkins Family, Clark Sisters, Andre Crouch. Summers spent with my aunt listening to the Carpenters and Chuck Mangione. All those different sounds invoke wonderful memories, eases difficult times as I played music to walk through stormy paths and new adventures. For this is the music of my family. We related to the lyrics because it was our lives, their struggles, the future and our dreams to be better, stronger as each new generation came forth on the shoulders of the last.

The third item would my pearl necklace. It was given to me on my 21st birthday by my step-great grandmother Scott. Her husband had given it to her when he returned from World War I. I wore these pearls the day I married my husband. It symbolized the merging of my family with his, another generation of proud humble people. When I look at the necklace, I see generations of women from my mother and aunts, to their mothers and aunts. I think of the struggles they went through to become women, sisters and mothers. From seamstress and housekeepers, to librarians, educators and professional women. We are strong willed and resilient.

If I had to narrow my choices again to carrying just one with me then it would be my iPod. My hope would be that through music and my voice, I could tell my story, show how diverse I am. They could feel my compassion in the words and music that sway me. They can feel my strengths and see our common threads. That would be my wish.

To my colleagues in EDUC 6160 “Early Childhood Development”

Anyone can acquire knowledge. It’s readily accessible.  Experience however is another matter.  All of you have shared your personal experience in working with children at various levels.  The insight and questions posed have raised my level of awareness and provide me with an invaluable guideline to reflect upon as I start my journey in the discipline of early childhood education.  I thank you for your support and encouragement and look forward to many more conversations.

The journey of a child

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” Shel Silverstein

“We call a child’s mind “small” simply by habit; perhaps it is larger than ours is, for it can take in almost anything without effort”. Christopher Morley

Morley spoke no truer words than this. From zero to eleven we witness tremendous growths in our children. Their observations of sights and sounds as babies spur their exploration to touch, feel, absorb. They crawl; take first steps to walking and running. The speech begins with little words such as “Mama, Dada, stop, no” to full blown sentences. They learn through play and imitation. Our little me’s who impress us, irritate us, but loves us unconditionally. It is during these formative years, as parents and teachers we have an obligation, a duty to help them plant their feet in knowledge; to stay hungry and passionate about learning; to teach them about empathy and compassion. We shape the next generation to take our place as future leaders and caregivers. It’s a tremendous honor and a heavy duty but not a second would I trade as a parent or an educator to witness the journey of a child.