Kacey Deverell

Using Communication Skills to Enact Change

As a mentor and a supervisor, building relationships is essential to my role.  As such, communication is critical to building relationships so that effective positive changes occur in the programs that I support, as well as with those that I supervise. Two communication skills that I feel are essential when leading to create change, whether it be in early childcare programs or in policy, are listening and creating clarity.

            Listening is a skill that is not necessarily innate; rather it’s a skill that must be learned and practiced. Listening is more than just making eye contact with another person and nodding your head; rather listening requires the listener to make meaning of the words spoken and understand the feelings and the perspectives of the other person (Helpguide, n.d.). When working to create policy change, one must create opportunities for ideas to be shared in environments that are safe and welcoming, as well as mediate and restate conversations, so to clarify and minimize conflicts, misunderstandings and negative feelings (Helpguide, n.d.).

            In terms of creating clarity, I believe using the 7 C’s of communication is essential: be clear, be concise; be concrete; be correct; be coherent; be complete; and be courteous (Mind Tools, n.d.). Leading policy change can create controversy; and with controversy, comes heightened emotions toward a particular issue. Using the 7 C’s can minimize misconceptions and create productive forums with which the ideas surrounding the policy change can be communicated and understood.

            In my own work, I have done a lot of work on this particular area, using self-reflection to evaluate my own modes of communication and determine whether or not I am effective in what I am trying to communicate. I believe I am fairly effective listener; yet, I am not always clear and concise. As I completed the Communication Anxiety Inventory, I was not surprised with my score (mild – 42) and recognize that depending on the context , my confidence level in how effective my communication is does in fact vary. I tend to thrive in small groups or individual settings; yet struggle with confrontation and large group settings. This is something that I continue to work on in both my professional and my personal life and recognize that in order to lead policy change, I am going to have to continue to develop my communication skills,

 

References

Helpguide.org. (n.d.). Effective communication. Retrieved October 15, 2013, from

            http://www.helpguide.org/mental/effective_communication_skills.htm

 

Mind Tools. (n.d.). The 7 Cs of communication: A checklist for clear communication. Retrieved October

            15, 2013, from http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCS_85.htm

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Social Media’s Influence on Policy Issue

 

In today’s society, social media drives how we communicate; how we are updated on the important, and not so important, news; and allows people to connect and share ideas from thousands of miles away. It is a tool that more and more are using, and as we continue to move forward, as practitioners wishing to impact social change, we must recognize that social media is a strategy that should be used.

In investigating ways to communicate my policy issue, I believe using Facebook and Twitter would be the methods I would use to share information. As this policy addresses the issue of teacher preparation and professional development, I would like to off an outlet in which teachers can express their own self-reflections as to the knowledge they are gaining and how they are or are not able to apply it to their teaching practices. Facebook would allow teachers to connect via the Internet to share their experiences and discuss challenges and successes in application and implementation of their knowledge. Twitter can be used as a outlet to share success stories and updates on the policy agenda to the public interested and invested in early care and education. Twitter can be an avenue to connect with other influential early childhood organizations as well as an avenue to advocate for changes in the current manner in which professional development is viewed.

Although, social media, such as Facebook and Twitter have their advantages, there are disadvantages to using these two outlets. These two outlets can be driven by personal views rather than the facts. This presents the risk of inaccurate information and/or distortions occurring, which could lead to a negatively impacting the outcome of the proposed policy agenda (Pillow-Price, 2009).

 

References

Pillow-Price, K. L. (2009). Influencing legislation—Advocacy basics. Dimensions of Early Childhood,

            37(3), 18–23. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

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The Raising of America – Are We Crazy About our Kids?

Great video depicting work that is still needed in our country in regards to early care and education.

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Early Care and Education Policies and Systems: Course Goals

Early care and education, as a system, “embraces the full scope of early child care and education settings that children encounter prior to kindergarten” (Kagan and Kauerz, 2012, p. 9).   In Indiana, early care and education system is beginning to change, recognizing quality child care centers and homes as educational settings, rather than just child care.

As a mentor for Indiana’s quality rating and improvement system, I have come to better understand the systems that are necessary for improving quality in early care and education, and ultimately improving child outcomes for school and life success. Yet, there are still flaws with our state’s QRIS, as well as flaws within our nation’s early care and education systems.

My first goal is to investigate other quality rating and improvement systems, the challenges of these systems, and the components that have led to the success of those systems which are recognized for their work at the national level.

My second goal pertains to professional development systems for teachers, caregivers, directors and administrators. Early care and education programs are only as strong as the leadership and the teachers within the programs. As Indiana begins to create its own professional development network that will intertwine with its quality rating system, my goal is to investigate and gain a better understanding for other states’ professional development networks and reflect as to how this knowledge can aid me in my work to support continuous quality improvement in child care programs.

My third goal in this course is to gain a better understanding of the federal government’s stance on early care and education and how work at the federal level impacts the early care and education system at both the state and local level. At both the federal level there have been recent proposed changes to the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), impacting legislation at the state level. If passed, these changes will drastically impact child care programs across the state of Indiana as well as affecting my work to improve quality of care in early care and education programs.

References

Kagan, S.L., & Kaurerz, K. (Eds.). (2012). Early childhood systems: Transforming early learning. New York,

NY: Teachers College Pres

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Obama Administration Releases FY2015 Budget with Commitment to Early Learning

Huge strides for early care and education on the national level

National Policy Blog

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This week, the Obama administration released its $3 trillion-plus 2015 budget, calling again for a significant commitment to high quality, early childhood opportunities for young children.  This is the sixth budget from President Obama and the second time he has put early childhood high among his priorities.

In addition to calling upon Congress to enact his historic Preschool proposal, the President’s budget would increase Head Start by $270 million, Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships by $150 million, Preschool Development grants by $500 million, and CCDBG would be increased by $57 million, serving 74,000 more children than in 2014.  Also, and importantly, $200 million of the Child Care and Development Fund would be dedicated to helping states raise the bar on quality by developing better health and safety standards, improving and increasing provider training, and improving parental access to information.

The 2015 budget proposal also recognizes the significant cost barrier for…

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Final Reflections

               This course has provided me the opportunity to continue to grow not only as a scholarly practitioner, but also as a professional. Over the course of my time at Walden, I have come to realize the importance of self-reflection as a means to support those that I coach. As suggested in much of our readings as well as by one of the women I interviewed, one cannot truly understand and help another person, unless he/she first understands oneself.

               We all have our own experiences; and those experiences influence our values and our beliefs, as well as our biases. When working to support the growth and development of others (including families, children and teachers/caregivers), we must be aware of our beliefs and values and understand how these may contribute to biases, which can impact our relationships with those that we are working to support.

The resources shared throughout this course, specifically those pertaining to developing positive relationships, have been invaluable to me. In my current role, I am a coach, counselor, mentor, teacher, trainer, model, and peer. My role requires me to work in collaboration with others as a means to improve the quality of care provided within early childhood programs. Relationships and honest two-way communication are critical; and as such I have learned that what I believe, what I value, may not be what is believed or valued by the teachers, caregivers, and directors that I work to support.  I have had to learn to consider others’ points of views and recognize that “my way” may not be the “right way” for them. As Derman-Sparks and Edwards (2010) state, “ongoing learning about yourself, as well as about the children and families you serve, makes it possible to effectively decide what to say, what to do, when to wait, and when to act in many different kinds of settings; . . .  the better you know yourself, the better you can understand your responses” (p. 21).

               As I continue on my journey to become a scholarly-practitioner, I hope to continue to self-reflect on my own biases as a means to develop stronger relationships with those that I mentor. In addition, I hope to continue to investigate the role of relationships in terms of supporting children to develop resiliency and pass this knowledge on in a meaningful manner to the early childhood professionals I coach. 

References

Derman-Sparks, L., and Edwards, J.O. (2010). Anti-bias education for young children and ourselves.

Washington, D.C.: National Association for the Education of Young Children.

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Interview Experience

I have finally conducted my first interview and have the second view scheduled for later this week. The first interview was with a Program Administrator for a local social services agency. I did not know her prior to this interview, but learned a lot in the 35 minutes I spoke with her over the phone. I think what struck me most during this interview is the importance of relationships and self-reflection/self-awareness when supporting the development of children who have encountered trauma. According to Lorri, the interviewee, one must reflect on their own abilities, their own experiences that led to the development of resiliency within them in order to truly understand how best to support the development of resiliency in children. Additionally, according to Lorri, there is not one cookie cutter way to approach working with families; every family and child are different and thus you must first develop that relationship, discover what is meaningful and important to them in order to support the family and child.

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The Interview Experience

 

            The interview process, at this point, has been a little frustrating, as the interviews have not yet been conducted. The biggest challenge that I have experienced is life and weather.

For the interviews, I have selected an accredited family child care provider who, not only cares for and teaches the children in her program, but also believes in working with the whole family in order to support the development of the child. I have known this provider for four years and have worked with her in many other capacities. She agreed to conduct the interview, but has had to cancel our meeting a few times due to weather, family and her own health. She and I will be meeting face to face early next week as her child care children nap.

            The second interviewee is a professional in the field who works for a local social services agency that supports low income, at risk families in a variety of capacities. She is a leader and an advocate for families in children in the community and serves on two leadership boards in the Fort Wayne community.  I was introduced to this person through a co-worker of mine and have made contact; yet, due to weather and vacation, have not yet had an opportunity to interview her. I have sent her the interview questions and she and I will be discussing her responses over the phone this Tuesday afternoon.

            As I have not been able to conduct the interviews as of today, I am not able to share what has resonated with me or what I have learned from the interviews. Later this week, once the interviews have been conducted, I will post again to describe my experiences.

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Course Project: Environmental Risks and the Impact on Children

Children Exposed to Risk: The Impact of Stress on Children’s Development

The challenge that I have selected for the course project is children who are exposed to risk factors; specifically, children who are exposed to toxic stress and how this impacts their development.

As a mentor, I work with child care providers to improve the quality of the care they provide to young children. A major component of my work is supporting teachers to have positive interactions with children as well as to help teachers understand how best to support a child’s development, including social and emotional development. So often I encounter teachers label children as “bad” or “mean” as a result of the child’s behavior.  Yet, what teachers are failing to understand is that there is often a reason behind the behavior and in order to understand the “why”, teachers must not only get to know and establish relationships with the child, but the family as well.

As early childhood professionals, it is vital to consider not only the child, but also the family. A child is an extension of his/her environment and understanding that environment and the impact the environment is important when considering how best to support a child in the classroom. My hope for this project is to gain a better understanding of how toxic stress impacts not only the child, but also the family. Through my investigation I hope to answer the following questions:

  • How is toxic stressed defined?
  • What indicators or behaviors are related to toxic stress?
  • What strategies can early childhood teachers/providers use to help a child who has encountered toxic stress?
  • How does toxic stress impact a child’s cognitive development? Social and emotional development?
  • How can teachers support families who are encountering toxic levels of stress?
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Reflection . . .

Over the course of this semester, I have gained a new sense of understanding of culture and the impact culture can have on people, their beliefs, their values, their interactions and their relationships with others. In the world of early care and education, culture plays such a big part; yet, based on my research and my experiences, I realized that so many teachers, caregivers and providers do not understand this.

Around the world, children are born. Children grow and develop in similar fashions, but beliefs and values of a child’s individual culture makes such an impact. Parents want the best for the children; yet, through my experiences in this course, I what is perceived as “best” is different from one cutlure to the next. Across all cultures, every child needs positive and appropriate stimulation and interactions with others. There is not necessarily one way to raise a child, as long as the child is provided a safe and nuturing environment with positive experiences and opportunities for play, exploration and interactions with the world around them.

As I go forth with this knowledge I hope to help others in the field undrstand the importance of culture within the field of early care and education. It’s not enough to just understand child development and what is appropriate for young children; yet, teachers in the field must understand the importance of families and how making those connections supports children’s learning. To be a great teacher, or any other role in the field, one must practice self-reflection. One must ask themselves, “what do I believe? What do I value? How does this compare or conflict with those that I serve/work with? What changes do I need to make to be successful and support children/families in the best possible way?” This is what I hope to pass on to those that I mentor.

The following are resources, work, or quotes that have inspired me:

” A person’s a person, no matter how small” – Dr. Seuss

“Let the children be the teacher” -Magda Gerber

“Every inteaction that a teacher (or person) has with a child (or another person) or a colleague is a cultural exchange” – Im, Parlakian, and Sanchez, 2007, Young Children

UNICEF: http://www.unicef.org OR http://www.unicefus

Education the Whole Child: http://www.educatethewholechild.org/

TED – Ed: http://ed.ted.com/lessons?category_id=601

Child Care Aware: http://www.childcareaware.org

Children’s Defense Fund: http://www.childrensdefense.org

Zero to Three: http://www.zerotothree.org

NAEYC: http://www.naeyc.org

http://archive.adl.org/education/miller/

http://ed.ted.com/lessons/what-adults-can-learn-from-kids-adora-svitak

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