What if we told you that the difference between you being a standard educator and an amazing educator rested with someone else?
Sure - you are ultimately responsible for the type of educator that you are and that you become. You make choices each and every day about the way that you interact with children, and the way that you support their play. But there is no doubt that these choices are shaped by others - in good ways, and sometimes in not so good ways.
Yesterday, Tash called to share with me an amazing conversation she'd had earlier in the day with a mentor. We got to talking about how the early childhood sector frustrates us at times. We know that there are so many brilliant educators and services out there. We also know that there are too many that are not so brilliant, that have innapropriate expectations on children and on their programs, that are developmentally damaging to children.What frustrates us further is the training, products and services that perpetuate this.
As we vented our frustrations, we tried also to put it into perspective. Playing devils advocate, I suggested that maybe these products and services were needed to support educators with where they are at, and that in time, educators would evolve away from those practices (after all, we no doubt have practices in our past that make us cringe now!).
As we unpacked this idea and discussed the challenges that face educators - particularly those new to the sector - we realised that there are two things that are needed for educators to evolve past practice that is not developmentally appropriate or in line with current research, theory and widely accepted "best practice" (like um... PLAY!)
1. Mindset - educators need to be open in their mindset. Open to new ideas, new ways of working, creative thinking, professional growth.
2. Mentors - people who can guide, inspire and give a gentle nudge in the right direction.
We talked about our own mentors and feel lucky to have had some incredible TAFE teachers during our early study and an early childhood teacher in the room with us in those early years, who pushed us to think differently. Over the years we have gone on to accumulate other mentors, knowing that you are never beyond the point of needing guidance and inspiration.
Maybe you have an amazing mentor. Maybe you are a mentor. Maybe you need a mentor. Maybe you could be a mentor for someone else.
Mentorship is vital. It isn't about impatiently wanting someone to "be better" or "do better", it's about meeting people where they are at and walking beside them as they learn and grow - encouraging them to step out of their comfort zone, engaging in critical reflection with them, sparking new ideas, and supporting them in their challenges.
We would love to hear about your experience with mentorship in the comments!