I was doing some research this afternoon related to the Online ECE Workshops that 45 Conversations recently opened registration for when I came across this great initiative — Buddy Benches — at Hammond Elementary School.
Kids can sit on a Buddy Bench when they are feeling lonely or need a friend to play with or just need a quiet place to be mindful. Sitting on the bench can be a signal for other kids to come and ask them if they want to play. It is a simple idea to eliminate loneliness and foster friendship on the playground as well as to spread the message of inclusion and kindness.
This is such a wonderful idea because it helps children develop empathy, kindness and compassion from the earliest of ages. And the truth is that we need a lot more of all of that in the world.
Ideas for Child Care Directors, Program Operators & Early Learning Agencies
If you’re a Child Care Director, Program Operator or Manager of an Early Learning Agency then you’re very likely aware that professional development opportunities are something that your Early Childhood Educators are constantly seeking. Not only is professional development required to maintain an early childhood educator’s license or certification in many areas — but it’s something that has the potential to make a true difference in the quality and day to day operations of the child care program that you manage. That said, with limited time, resources and budget — ensuring that the members of your team are able to participate in professional development can be challenging. So what should you do? What can you do?
Here are a few ideas that are sure to help you when it comes to developing professional development for the members of your child care team.
Plan Ahead for Annual Professional Development Days
Sure — we all have good intentions when it comes to professional development, but the reality is that far too many programs forget to actually plan for annual professional development days. When this happens, the days get overlooked or set aside. In many cases, they simply never happen. I was recently in a centre that had a policy for annual professional development days — yet nobody could recall the last time one had occurred.
So plan in advance for annual professional development days. Consider the needs of your program and your early childhood education team. And then choose a certain number of days to hold annually. 3 is a great place to start — 6 is even better. Once you have selected the number of days that you will have, then get them on your calendar! Make them firm dates — in other words don’t change them unless you absolutely must. Inform your team and your parents well in advance of the dates. When you plan ahead — the your professional development days will happen with ease.
Recognize What Professional Development Offers
Professional development days are a gift. They are an incredible opportunity to grow your team, to build stronger connections and to enhance the knowledge of each member of your child care team. And they are a great time to nurture relationships with other community based professionals too.
Throughout the year be planning for each of your professional development days. Where possible, involve members of your child care team in this planning too. Ask for their input, ideas and suggestions.The more your team is involved in the preparation and planning for the professional development days, the more engaged they will be in the actual learning experience.
What Professional Development Is & What It’s Not
Great professional development will offer your team the opportunity to grow individually and collectively. It will nurture them and it will challenge them. It will enable them to focus their learning on areas and topics that are relevant to their current practice as Early Childhood Educators. And specifically to the needs of your child care program too. Great professional development should be energizing and joyful!
The professional development you offer should be responsive to the learning needs of each of your educators. It should support curiosity and respect the diversity of philosophical opinions that may exist among the various members of your team.
Great professional development also respects the variety of learning styles and differences that will exist among the members of your child care team. Get to know what those styles and difference are — by observing your staff, asking them questions and getting to truly know them as individuals. Your professional development should respect both the introverts and the extroverts on your team. And the learning environment you create should make team members comfortable — even when what they are learning takes them outside of their natural comfort zone.
Don’t mistake a professional development day for a regular staff meeting. It’s not. And it’s not the time for you as the Child Care Director to roll out the “5 new guidelines or policies about something — unless what you are sharing is truly connected to the specific focus of the learning that is on the agenda for that specific professional development day. Unfortunately, I see this far too often — professional development days that are taken over by the pressing needs of Administration. Sure — there are important messages or things you need your team to know — but how you tell them these things matters. It’s far better if you connect policies, procedures and other similar matters to broader learning outcomes. Your team will respond better, be more engaged and will better understand why you are doing what you are doing.
Need Help Planning Professional Development for your Child Care Program?
There are a great many resources available online when it comes to professional development. What’s important to consider though, is exactly how what you plan to offer directly relates to your program and team needs. Once you know this it becomes easier to know where to turn for further assistance, what kind of guest speakers your might invite or what additional information you might need to support your vision for a high quality professional development experience.
45 Conversations provides a range of professional development opportunities for child care programs, Early Childhood Educators and Centre Directors. From face to face to online video education to customized learning modules — we are able to support the specific needs of your program.
It was a delight to see Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers (RBA) profiled on the front of the Business In Vancouver website today regarding the workplace child care they developed for their employees back in 2009. The article “Women at work: the B.C.. companies leading the way on gender equality” discusses the advantages of female leadership at the highest level, talent development and family friendly practices. Quite simply — it gives countless examples of progressive ways that employers are doing what’s right in the workplace — for their female employees as well as for their male employees too. Beyond the positive mentions of RBA, several other organizations are also listed for their progressive approaches — including HSBC and VanCity.
As I write this post I find myself truly smiling — you see — over the years I have consulted with all three of these organizations — RBA, HSBC and VanCity — on issues related to child care, work-life and the development of family friendly policies and practices. Plus countless other organizations too. And it has been an incredibly rewarding and fascinating experience to do the kind of work that we have done together. In each case not only were we designing, building or creating something that was both unique and different; but we were doing so because it mattered. Because it was the right thing to do – from both a human and a business perspective.
VanCity – First Client Ever
I’m proud to say that VanCity were my very first client when I began consulting more than 20 years ago on — what we then called — work and family issues. I was honoured to work with them in their very first days of exploring and acting on child care issues for their employees. From supporting and helping to create new community based child care spaces to work-life supports to employee wellbeing — you name it and we tried it. They were very much the leader in Vancouver — and in Canada for implementing progressive family friendly solutions and creating a supportive work environment for working mothers. For close to 12 years years we collaborated together to make a difference — not only for VanCity employees but for their members too.
My experience with VanCity taught me so much —
- Why community matters.
- That good leadership starts with doing what you believe to be right.
- Why knowing what you stand for is about so much more than the values you put in a policy statement.
Without question I am a better female business owner, entrepreneur and community member because of the work I did with VanCity. It’s fair to say that they taught me how to generously collaborate and to work from a place of heart with my client’s best and truest interests at the centre. They also taught me that it’s more than okay for babies to be on boardroom agendas and to even visit them sometimes too.
HSBC – Collaboration & Community
Years later — and thanks to VanCity — I began consulting with HSBC to secure emergency child care spaces in the Vancouver area for their employees. HSBC were not only committed to collaboration with other financial institutions, they were also interested in making sure that their employees had access to quality back up child care spaces. And they cared about the organizations they chose to collaborate with.
Countless interactions with employees at HSBC continuously demonstrated to me that commitment to doing good work in the area of gender equality is about so much more than words — it’s about leadership. Many of the female employees that I collaborated with at HSBC not only inspired me but encouraged me too. It was very much a reciprocal relationship. It’s always good to like the people you are doing good work with.
As a female business owner — it’s good to come across other female leaders who are both admirable and genuine. They can teach you a lot. I found those leaders at HSBC.
Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers – Families Matter
From the very first conversation I had about developing a child care program at Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers, I knew something special was going to happen. That conversation was the beginning of an amazing journey that resulted in the design, development and eventual operation of an exceptional early learning and child care program for RBA employees. The facility opened in 2009 and since then it has served as one of the best examples of high quality workplace child care in Canada.
My experience with RBA was one of the most rewarding and interesting consulting projects I have had the opportunity to work on in recent years. Not only because it was truly unique work — but because I was given the opportunity to lead the design, development and initial operations of a mixed philosophy child care program (learn more here) that put the respect of children and families first. And I got to do it with an incredible team of educators — including Christine Clements — who is one of the most talented and committed early childhood educators I have ever worked with. Suffice to say close to 8 years went by in the blink of an eye — because that’s what happens when you focus on building something that is exceptional!
I took a lot of away from my consulting work with RBA. A ton of lessons in education and leadership. And in why child care is neither a male nor a female issue. Rather it’s a collective societal issue that we can all — business, government, community, educators, families and children — be part of making a difference in.
Perhaps most importantly though, I took away another lesson from Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers that was quite similar to my earliest days of consulting at VanCity. The lesson was this:
Doing what’s right matters. A lot.
You see, over the years, there were more moments than I can reference where I collaborated with employees at Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers to ensure that we did what was right. Right for the company, for the quality of the workplace child care, for RBA employees, and for the children and families the program served. It was not only heart warming but enlightening to be part of. And doing what’s right made a difference. Over and over.
So yes – I’m still smiling as I finish writing this post. It’s a good feeling as a consultant to know that the work you do makes a difference. I am fortunate that I continue to have the opportunity to consult with many different organizations related to early learning, workplace child care and education. In every case, they want to make a difference in ways that are quite similar to the companies I have written about in this post.
Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers, HSBC and VanCity are amazing organizations that continue to be committed to doing good for their employees — in truly unique ways. And believe me — that’s not always an easy thing to maintain in the corporate world — especially when there are changes leadership and evolutions in corporate culture. Yet, somehow they are each continuing to do what’s right — because they see the value it brings their organizations and understand that doing so truly does make a difference.
Learn More About Doing What’s Right
If you would like to explore ways to develop customized child care solutions, family friendly practices or unique workplace supports related to work-life and employee wellbeing please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-343-7245. Let’s have a conversation about how I can help your organization develop a customized solution that will make a true difference too.
After all, I’m always interested in building relationships and collaborations that are about doing what’s right. Because — believe me — it matters.
Who would have thought a #genkind24 kindness adventure would have turned into so much more?
I always know that good comes from doing good. In this case it’s good that has turned out to be great for my Adam. You see he’s a truly unique learner. So we try lots of different approaches to tap into his genius. Hanging with Devon Glover, John Sweeney and Gigi Blum Peterkin earlier this month enabled me to learn so much more about the creative teaching brilliance that is purely Devon.
Fast forward to now – and Devon and my Adam are working together across the miles – from NYC to Vancouver. This morning was a review of times tables, division and fractions on the way to outdoor school for the day. Adam began the call a little nervous and doubting himself. He ended the call confident and happy. Clearly feeling good about himself and what he and Devon had accomplished. I have no doubt Shakespeare will eventually fit in alongside the math adventures. (You see Devon Glover’s even greater talent is the work he does as The Sonnet Man.)
The Sonnet Man sets Shakespeare’s love sonnets to Hip Hop and features brilliant rap artist Devon Glover. Conceived and produced by Broadway Playwright Arje Shaw, The Sonnet Man brings Shakespeare to young audiences in a genre they know and love. Through Hip Hop, Shakespeare will become exciting and fun, introducing young people to classical literature, raising literacy, improved communication, greater enthusiasm for learning, increase creativity, raise confidence, and will set a foundation for appreciation of the arts.
I’m so delighted Adam’s learning program embraced this collaboration. And even more delighted to create a win-win. Can’t wait to see how it unfolds.
Good comes from good. And from having truly talented misfit friends who are intent on making a difference in the world – one person at a time.
Give for the sake of giving.
Living with intention is all about believing in the very person you are meant to be.
You are the only person who can build a life that’s based upon intention.
Stop trying to live other people’s lives. Claim your own life. It’s the only one you’ve got.
Being intentional is all about being.
Just because someone told you to do something doesn’t mean you should do it.
Living with pure intention is trusting yourself without question.
Generosity just feels good.
Stop questioning shit.
Stop making excuses.
Stop waiting for permission.
I see you. I believe in you.
Believe in others. You can be their difference.
Generously listen for the quiet voices in the crowd.
Look for the invisible…they can be seen if try hard enough.
Giving just feels good.
Begin each day celebrating all that is right in your world. Be thankful.
Generosity belongs everywhere. At every table. In every transaction and negotiation. In business. In community. In family. In relationships.
Be generously respectful.
Seeing others for who they truly are is generosity at is finest.
45 Conversations is generously and intentionally a Founding Sponsor of the upcoming GenKind24 event which begins at midnight GMT on October 22, 2015.
My dear friend John M. Sweeney wrote the post below on Facebook earlier today. It’s about something truly horrible that happened to he and his family. This is the latest in a long line of things that they have been faced with where they live in Ireland.
John is an incredible person who wants to serve the world through kindness. He has a gift that is both moving and profound. As the Founder and Chief Kindness Officer of Suspended Coffees, he has already done so much good in his life.
My heart breaks at the hatred he is encountering in his community and from those who seem to fear change, kindness and love. People who just don’t understand that it’s okay to follow what’s in your heart and to live a life that’s built on being true to the very person you are. Of course I get that haters will hate…but this…it’s too much. It’s unacceptable.
I will forever believe in the good that exists in everyone. And it’s for that exact reason that I have partnered with John & Gigi Blum Peterkin to bring about a global day of conversations on kindness called GenKind24 on October 22, 2015. In reality, it’s no small thing that we’re trying to do…but…John’s foul smelling and horribly stained red door below is just one example of the many reasons that I believe we need more kindness and generosity in the world.
Kindness matters….in communities, in schools, in child care programs, in workplaces and especially in families. In fact, there’s even room for kindness in politics and in big business too. And while I’m talking about it — we could use a whole lot more kindness in the relationships we build with others as well as in the very way we choose to love ourselves too.Here’s the thing….when we nurture the seeds of kindness, so much positive change can happen and conflict can be resolved peacefully. These are all good things my friends. Very, very good things.
There are several ways you can help and I kindly ask that you do choose to help….
1. Share John’s post and let people know that Kindness matters. Help us demonstrate that kindness always rises above fear and intimidation.
2. Register to be part of #GenKind24. Invite your friends and family to be part of our global day of kindness on October 22.
3. Use the #GenKind24 hashtag for anything you share on social media that relates to generosity and kindness.
4. Start thinking about where the truly generous and kind communities are in the world. Maybe it’s where you live? #GenKind24 is looking to host future Kindness Adventures. Perhaps you would like to work with us to help make a global kindness tour come about in 2016. I have no doubt that there are many communities who would love to act as hosts to John and his family as part of something much more kind. Contact me if you have ideas about this.
The opposite of kindness is unkindness.
Yesterday I was invited to give a talk to people about unemployment. About how it can be an extremely hard time and difficult period in a person’s life. I spent a lot of time unemployed myself until I became an entrepreneur, and started my own business. At my talk yesterday, I spoke about the really dark times, the times I struggled to put food on the table for my family, the times we had our electric disconnected. I spoke about the times where I would constantly feel depressed and isolated, and the times when I felt there was no hope and no future.
At the end of my talk, I once again got an incredible reaction from the audience. One lady told me she was shaking after hearing me speak. Another gentleman, who is actually a professional speaker, said it was the most amazing talk he had ever heard. Another man approached me, and thanked me for telling my story about how in school my teachers thought the best way to educate me was by beating it into me. He said it was the first time in his life he realized that what happened him in school wasn’t right. He’s been led to believe that the beatings and abuse he received from the Christian brothers was something he was supposed to accept. He said he was incredibly touched by my talk and thanked me profusely for being so honest and vulnerable.
Another lady said she wanted to see me on telly someday, that she’s shit sick of the bull they show these days, and would love nothing more than to see someone like me on there, telling it like it is. Another lady who is a single Mom told me she didn’t feel so afraid or alone anymore, as a result of the things I said. I don’t receive compliments too well, and actually get a little embarrassed. However, I thanked each and every one of them for their kind words because they do matter to me.
On the drive home I was incredibly happy that another talk had gone so well. I reflected on how this time last year I had never spoken in public and never shared my story with hardly anyone.
I phoned my wife, who is my rock, to tell her the good news, and I was greeted with a very sad voice and could hear that she was crying. I asked her what happened and she told me.
First I’ll give you a little of the back story.
Three weeks ago we had to make the decision to leave our home, due to the extreme level of hatred we are getting, for no other reason than people who don’t like what I’m doing. Since last June when I came back from a conference called Misfit Con, a very nasty rumor has started to spread that I’ve joined a cult in America and that now I’m giving talks all over the world asking people to join my cult. Now, anyone who looks me up and checks out what I actually do will realize that’s not the case, that I’m actually doing some really amazing work with incredible groups of people and making a huge impact all over the world, in people’s lives.
For a while, this made me laugh as I found it kind of funny that people could have such a wild imagination. I’ve even joked about this at talks, because of how ridiculous it is, but I’m not laughing anymore. Three weeks ago I was attacked twice in one week, one of which was in front of my own kids. This, coupled with the fact that the last time I left my children playing outside the front door, they were threatened by someone who I can only describe as a coward, who kicked our family pet in the head and shouted at the kids while he walked off laughing. Where we were living just wasn’t safe and I had to make the decision to get out of there for everyone’s sake. My own wife has been really down about this, but since we have left, she and our kids are happy for the first time in I don’t know how long. They can go outside the front without being intimidated and it’s given us a chance to get into a good head space.
Yesterday was her first time back at the house as we all feel physically sick each time we have to go there. We needed some stuff so she had no choice but to go there. Our three year old cries and says he doesn’t want to go back to that place each time we pass the area. My wife had two of our kids with her as they were sick and missed school because of it. When she pulled up to the door, she was greeted with what you see in the photo, which doesn’t give you any idea of the foul smell it also had. I don’t know what it is other than an act of intimidation and cowardice. Why people have such anger towards us I don’t fully know, but I have some idea it’s because of their own unhappiness and lack of self-worth that they have to stoop this low. I truly do feel sorry for them.
I wasn’t sure if I should have written this or not, but I decided to because these people are too afraid to face me, and I know there are many people all over the world going through similar situations. I hope that my sharing will help them know that no matter how bad it gets, there are people all over the world who truly care.
This is not easy for me to share. It’s one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do, to be honest, but I’m doing it to say to whoever did this, and whomever has a problem with the work I do, you’ll never stop me, and you won’t intimidate me or my family. I’m doing this because I believe in kindness and I believe in people, even people filled with hatred just like you. I would gladly meet you for a coffee to try to help you get rid of that anger, but I will not stand idly by and let my family go through this. I’ve been bullied almost all my life, so this is nothing new to me. The difference now is I face the bullies. I’m not afraid of you anymore. I have something amazing watching my back – kindness.
P.S. this is a genuine offer of a coffee, but I think it’s only fair that you pay since you messed my front door. Have a wonderful day. 🙂
P.P.S. Will you please share this ASAP, so that whoever it was will see it?
P.P.P.S. This is another reason why I’ve been working on a global kindness event to raise awareness about the importance of kindness and generosity in every aspect of life. There’s way too much hatred for my liking. The world needs more kindness.http://genkind24.com/faqs/
She handcrafted the beads and hand wrote the 108 affirmations that she intuitively put together especially for me.
I am both moved and honoured by this. Today I began my day by saying each of the affirmations out loud to myself. I plan to do this often – either early each morning or at night before I fall asleep.
Being kind to yourself matters. This I know – it’s something that John Sweeney has recently reminded me of. I am thankful for that. And I am thankful to Nichole for sharing just a few of her many talents with me through these beads and affirmations.
Surround yourself with the right people. They are out there.
Embrace them for who they are. And let them embrace you right back – for exactly who you are.
This is how you can make a difference in your life – and in the lives of others.
Trust me. It works. And it matters.
This is a post about something. And not just one something. Lots of somethings.
It’s about people. And moments. And experiences. A whole lot of experiences.
I could dive deeply into details. But I won’t. Somehow that feels like it just wouldn’t be right.
Instead I’ll simply say this.
I’ve hung around long enough in the social space to see things. To remember. This much I know….a whole lot came before today. Once upon a time there was a yesterday. In fact, there were many yesterdays.
I’ve seen people come into this space. I’ve seen them leave. And I’ve seen them return.
I’ve watched people be right and wrong. Very right. And very wrong.
I’ve seen the most amazing kinds of generosity and kindness unfold.
I’ve witnessed haters hate. And critics say too much.
I’ve been influenced by influencers. And I’ve even influenced others myself.
I remember what it was like when I really didn’t know anybody online. When I felt invisible. And when sharing my voice scared me more than I can ever explain. I remember it all. And I remember what it felt like when others reached out to me. When they saw me. And when they cared. I remember the difference it made. And I know exactly who did what. Who was there for me when it mattered the very most. I remember all of it.
I have learned a lot. In fact, I have learned more in this social space and through the relationships that have grown from it than anywhere else in my life thus far.
Yet – as I write this tonight…I have to say that I’m feeling more than a little concerned about some of the people I’ve known online for a good long time now. These are people I admire, respect and appreciate. In fact I love them for who they are and for the good that they do in the world. They are friends. And I don’t mean Facebook friends.
But – as I see some people grow their businesses, I’m also seeing other things too…
I’m seeing fundamental values shifting. I’m seeing some people do the exact opposite of what they once so strongly professed to believe in. In fact, I’m seeing total contradictions without explanation or justification.
I’m seeing people falling in love with their egos. And their fame. I’m seeing a lot of this. Too much. I’m seeing brilliantly creative people put everything that once mattered to them at risk. Communities. Companies. And relationships.
I’m also seeing folks walk away from friends in need – because they don’t want to associate with the illness or metal health challenges of others. It’s as if illness and mental health issues only matter when we are tweeting about them as part of some social campaign. But not when the depths of sickness or despair truly kick in.
To say I’m sad about all of this is a profound understatement. Every single time I see these things playing out I’m devastated. Devastated because I believe that people know better. I believe in the greater good that humanity brings to the table – one person at a time.
Let me be clear….I’m not making judgements about people or moments or experiences. I’m simply observing stuff I see happening. And I’m taking note of what it means to both myself and a great many others too.
I’ll never stop believing that values attract values. And for me it will always be about relationships and people. Always. Generosity is my forever highest value.
So – if you are reading this and any of it strikes a note, all I ask is that you take a moment to think. Think long and hard. Think about how what you do influences and impacts others. Think about who supported you yesterday, about how you value relationships and what ultimately drives the bottomline of your life – and your business (or career).
Do good my friends.
Walk your talk. Today and tomorrow.
It’s not just that the internet remembers. People do too.