A while ago I posted Get a Group, in which I talked about how eight of us get together to discuss our ECE practice. But now I want to talk about how fabulous it is to Get a Big Group…..say 350?!
Danielle and I just returned from the annual Early Childhood Educators of BC Conference where ECE’s from all over our province gathered in Vancouver for 3 days. There were presentations, workshops, meetings, slide shows, and a gala dinner, but as my good friend and colleague Sarah always says “It’s not about what happens in the sessions, it’s about what happens in the hallways”.
The diversity of presentations was amazing and I didn’t hear one negative comment about any of them, but it was the conversations at breakfast, over coffee, in the corridors and over wine in the evenings that really fascinated me. It was in these places that I heard retired ECEs wonder how they could volunteer to engage ECEs in ongoing dialogues to reflect on practice, it was here I heard instructors from colleges 500 miles apart discuss how to support students in practicum when the setting is challenging. I heard a young ECE talk about how she she is changing her practice to better reflect her personal values, and another share how she is trying to get rid of the plastic toys in her centre. I talked with people who were trying to bring ECEs and primary teachers together to share practice, and another who wants to do research on using pedagogical narrations as a tool for assessment. I heard about challenging licensing regulations so aboriginal communities could build a fire and share traditional culture with children, and I heard about work being done to attract males to our field.
Passion is an overworked, over-used term and I’m hesitant to use it here. But there was passion in those corridors, in those conversations. The connections being made, the ideas, the information, the challenges and the struggles that were shared were serious and joyful, determined and heartfelt.
I came away with admiration for my fellow ECEs. We are consistently under paid and undervalued, we work in basements and church halls that were never intended for children, we work more hours than we are paid because we want to change that bulletin board or try that new idea, we make due because we have no funding, we do advocacy on the side, and education on evenings and weekends. And yet those corridors were filled with passion for our work, belief in the importance of what we do and a commitment to keep learning.
I am always proud to be an ECE. Being in that Big Group made me even more proud.