Early Childhood Studies – a Global Perspective

Exploring the concepts on early childhood studies through the lens of people across the globe


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A Message to My Walden Community

The past many months have been a process of transformational collaboration amongst my idea-315561_1280colleagues and instructors at Walden University. The process of acquiring knowledge about
the courses and the people I am interacting with enabled me to engage actively in discussions and exchange of blog posts. As well, my skills to communicate and attitudes towards communication in different settings with a wide range of participants that present their cultures and personalities have significantly improved allowing for mutual understanding and tolerance. Learning to respect, respond and reciprocate to individuals and groups both at Walden and my workplace have widened my knowledge about myself, and the work that I do.

I feel privileged that I was able to connect with people from different cultures. By the time I finish this course, I would have completed bits and pieces of the requirements in nine countries. I had the opportunity to interact with educators and learners in one way or another in some of these places. This experience has truly enriched me in many ways.

I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to all of you who have helped me to become a thank-you-490607_1280better individual and educator in a global world.  It is my hope that I would be able to continue working on my vision and passion to work with and for children through expanding network. Please continue to interact with me through this blog. Let’s keep talking!


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Moving on and expanding horizons

June of 2015 marked the end of my career in South Korea as I prepared to move on to my next endeavour – Bangladesh. On my last year in my previous job, I worked with a frog-897644_1280leadership team composed of three heads of divisions and three curriculum coordinators. I would say that the large part of the group has moved through Tucker’s stages of team building while there are quite a few who chose to be independent outside the team. Those who have bonded together have gone through the stage all the stages until we separated ways by the end of the school year. A few months were spent sensing on what work ethics we each had and the teaching pedagogy we individually espouse. In the end, coming up with the goals based on what the team needs to work on to deliver a cohesive program that would cater for our students from early years to high school brought us together. Although the norming stage took a while, having a clear understanding of who we are individually and as a group helped us pass through the storming stage more swiftly that we all first imagined. Respect of the work that we all do and cognizantof the efforts that we give inhammer-895665_1280 each of our divisions enabled us to work together. As we entered into the norming stage, hours of our meetings were dedicated to exhaustive discussions that also included disagreements and arguments that were resolved as we revisited the purpose of why we are working together. Having a clear vision and a commitment from the members of the team to look at the same direction allowed us to perform by making decisions and taking actions based upon those decisions. In the end, the school was re-accredited by the institution that was supposed to legitimise the credibility of the school in terms of international standards.

As we realised the completion of our goal, it was time for us to move to different places. The team learned a lot from the mistakes and tensions encountered, but having the same vision and commitment made all our efforts successful in the end. Adjourning the team was quite emotional, as we have already forged relationships in the process, but knowing that we can still come across each other in one way or another is a positive thought to keep. The experiences we all have ventured upon have sharpened our skills in creating a collaborative team. All those that we have earned and gained will again be shared in the new experiences we are about to make. Being able to keep in touch with each other gives us the opportunity to relive our working memories and assure each other that as we get into another cycle of Tucker’s stages of team development, we will know how to pass through each stage.

Parallel to this is the experience of growing with the groups in the Masters program that allowed for a lot of collaboration. Although connections were made virtually, relationships were formed from the interactions throughout the courses. Although how parenting-736386_1280each respected, responded and reciprocated efforts to reach out through discussions and blog posts vary in different degrees, they all helped us achieve the goals of every course. It makes me wonder though if the storming stage was an easier stage to pass because the channels of interaction were based on the ideas conveyed through writing and that there were no gestures and facial expressions that could have made the communication complex. As well, having colleagues who willingly divulged personal and professional experiences strengthened the trust that enabled us to achieve the goals of the course. We are about to reach the adjourning stage again in the Communication course, but it is a great thought to realize that we have all grown from the experience together and have added a new set of skills that we can share with our future teams.

Reference:

Abudi, G. (2010). The five stages of team development: A case study. Retrieved from http://www.projectsmart.co.uk/the-five-stages-of-team-development-a-case-study.html

O’Hair, D., Wiemann, M., Mullin, D. I., & Teven, J.  (2015). Real communication (3rd. ed). New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

 


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Nonviolent Communication and Conflict Management

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The timing of applying conflict resolution strategies through communication came quite handy being in a working community who come from different contexts, with a variety of educational orientation.

This week, a few disagreements arose between two colleagues who team-teach in a Grade one class. The issues encompass teaching of Literacy, Math, and an inquiry on systems. The situated escalated to one of the teachers walking out in the middle of the teaching, and both parties going to different people to seek affirmation. In the middle of these conflicts are children who become confused when teachers disagree in front of them and lose their learning time because their teachers were too preoccupied asserting their points instead of thinking of ways to teach the children effectively.

The saga of the conflicts finally reached my table where the three of us sat and talked about the situation. Before each of them was asked to share their perspectives, the expectations for the discussion were clarified. First, the person who will talk will focus on the issue of concern, and not the character of the other. Second, the person speaking must not be interrupted. Third, we will focus on how we will achieve the objective – teaching the children in ways that will be more beneficial to them and not simply to assert what each teacher wants.

During the conversation, a number of agreements were developed. To demonstrate
empathy for each other, they will listen respectfully to each other’s ideas instead empathy-985973_1280of listening to counter the point. As well, although one disagrees with what the other is option-1010899_1280.jpgdoing, they will still support each other when working with the children and sit together at the end of the day to reflect how the teaching could be better. Thus, the both have to navigate the options that would promote the interests the children. The highlight of the agreement was based on the Thirdside’s (n.d.) concept.

“The first is to prevent destructive conflict from emerging in the first place by addressing latent tensions. The second is to resolve any overt conflicts which do develop. The third is to contain any escalating power struggles that temporarily escape resolution. What is not prevented is resolved; and what is not resolved is contained. The motto of the Third Side is thus: “Contain if necessary, resolve if possible, best of all prevent.”

The disagreement may not be resolved quickly as both parties will need to have a change of heart to be open to recognise that they have different perspectives and such differences can be prevented, resolved or contained if they change their mindset by being respectful, responsive and reciprocal.

Reference:

The Third Side. (n.d.). The third side. Retrieved from http://www.thirdside.org/


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Communication – a reflection of self and others

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Communication is a complex process that entails speaking, listening, understanding, remembering, and responding. As we listen, we pay attention to details and select those that we should understand and remember in order to deliver a feedback message. Speaking on the other hand, needs careful delivery of a message to which the listener can be attuned. In both contexts, listening and speaking, we identify the goal/s for communication, decide to use a language to which the participants can relate with, and recognise their cultures in order to adapt the delivery and content of the message to encourage interaction (O’Hair et.al., 2015).

My communication experiences vary in a wide scale. The differences in context depend on the purpose, audience, and relationship I have with the participant. It can be in a one to one, small or big group settings. In all these instances I demonstrate communication behaviours appropriate to the context. This has been confirmed upon evaluating my listening style profile, communication anxiety inventory and verbal aggressiveness and comparing it with other people’s perceptions about me. However, there remain communication behaviours that I maintain regardless of who I communicate with. These include attentiveness and responsiveness to the person/s I am communicating with. My self-perception of listening style is exactly the same with how my partner and my colleague evaluated my listening style. As such, I seem to be a people-oriented person, being able to empathise with the emotions of others. This is evident in the relationships I have forged at work, the community I am a part of and my family. Being able to trust others easily have helped me engage in pleasurable communication experiences. Both on personal and professional levels, people are able to disclose information that they sometimes would not choose to share with others. However, I maintain a line of distance hands-1022028_1280to ensure that I could still assimilate messages to guide my judgments. An interesting discovery was my communication anxiety inventory. I see myself having varied comfort levels depending upon the context when I communicate although it is not an aspect that I worry about. My partner and colleague, on the other hand, see me being comfortable and confident in any situation. All three of us work in the same organisation, so they have seen me communicate in personal, social, formal and informal contexts. They have been part of my small group conversations on social gatherings such as parties, as well as an audience when I speak to a large crowd of educators. It seemed that even if I feel a sense of discomfort in public speaking situations, I am able to mask my feeling, as even people who know me well do not recognise this.

My self-perception of my communication abilities can be seen similar to or different from the lens of others. A large part of it is dependent on my communication experiences with monkeys-152488_1280.pngthem. This experience includes how I have adjusted my communication approach to their cultures and personalities. Although the objectives of my communication with individuals and groups differ, I remain careful with my approach to communicate in order to maintain relationships – whether personal or professional.

Reference:

O’Hair, D., Wiemann, M., Mullin, D. I., & Teven, J.  (2015). Real communication (3rd. ed). New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.


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Learning the ropes of communication

In my work environment, there are different groups of people that I relate with – children, colleagues with diverse nationalities and age-range, families from different countries in the South Asian region, and co-workers with different educational backgrounds.

When I engage in conversations with the different members of my working community, I take into consideration the context of the roles of the people, as well as their personalities connections-990699_1280and gender. When I speak to my colleagues from the host country, I talk to them about their country – my new experiences. I also try to use the opportunity to get to know them as well as their country. It is a different dimension when I speak with the overseas teachers. Usually, we talk about countries where we have worked and the countries they will visit in the next holiday. However, with the more mature and senior members in the community, I am more guarded with the way I say things making sure that I am respectful towards them. The context of our conversations is usually about school operations. The staff that I hardly know is a usual greeting and a smile. When talking with parents, I wear another hat making sure that I represent the school well. Being with the children is my most favorite interaction. The conversations are free flowing, with the children asking me questions or the other way around.

My communication approach with every group can be similar, but still varied, as I tend to have more lengthy conversations with women than men. There are parents whom I seem speech-938585_1280to be more comfortable conversing with than the others. In my general communication, I try my best not to talk about religion or country politics, as I am not sure if I am representing views that may be opposed to others. I am careful not to slight anybody knowing the diverse religious affiliations of the community members – from Muslim to Hindu and Christian.

Given all these considerations, I sometimes still fail in my communication. When I am too absorbed about my personal affairs, I forget the context of the person I am know-1082654_1280communicating with. I could be too direct that I could make another person uncomfortable or talk about things that they cannot connect with. Learning more about communication made me realize that there are still many things that could make my interaction with others better. To apply the platinum rule – do unto others as you would have others do unto you is a primary approach to establishing a positive communication with people from all walks of life. This approach encompasses understanding the contexts of others and making sure that we keep an open-mind to the different perspectives they present. Corollary to this approach is developing an intercultural communication where I take into consideration one’s perception, culture, identity, personality and communication style. Having the background knowledge about these components would be helpful to compassion-651448_1280.jpgunderstand their habits, emotions, and intentions (Beebe, et. Al., 2011). A third approach that complements the first two is the ability to appreciate cultural differences (Gonzalez-Mena, 2010). It is being able to see the lens of others as I recognise mine to be able to come up with the third culture if necessary. Thus, the success of communication is not only about awareness of my culture and those of others and intending to establish a positive intent to communicate, but also the willingness to accept differences so that I could build the mindset of tolerance and inclusivity.

References:

Gonzalez-Mena, J. (2010). 50 strategies for communicating and working with diverse families. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

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


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The Art of Nonverbal Communication

Being in a place where the shows are mostly local it was hard to figure out what TV show arrowcan I choose to be the object of my communication task. My only resort was to watch TV episodes through my daughter’s Netflix account. I randomly chose, Arrow.

 

Part of the task was to watch the show without sound. I would say, it was one of those moments when I was completely focused on what I was watching so I could get a full grasp of what it is about. It started in an island with a man who looked like a castaway aiming his arrow towards a pile of woods and set it on fire. It belonged to two men from the ship that appeared like fishermen. They took him with them and the rest of the story unfolded. Missing for many years, he was finally brought back to his affluent family. Reading the lips of the actors and paying attention to the facial expressions and body movements, I could sense feelings of uncertainty, worry, and distaste when faced with different situations.

As I finally watched the same episode with vocals, a lot of my perceptions were confirmed although some were difficult to guess as what you see could be a circumstance that could right-707516_1280be similar in other situations. For example, I have mistaken the scene in the lawyers’ office as news or a police office. As well, when they drove to town, although I could tell that he was being shown a familiar place, I could not figure out the context of their conversation. If I was aware beforehand about the DC comics character, Oliver Queen, aka, Arrow, it would have been easier to understand the context of the story.

However, by observing non-verbal communication, I was able to grasp some sections of the episode. Clues can be picked up from the context of the situation. Thus, if one understands the context, it would be easier to understand the message being conveyed. In angry-33031_1280many situations, the facial expressions of the actor complemented the spoken message. Although at times the message was unsaid, it was conveyed by the way the actor looked, moved his lips and shoulders. However, relying solely on non-verbal communication and non-verbal cues can be also be ambiguous (O’Hair, et.al., 2015). I was not very sure if the young man who came when he just arrived home was a brother or a best friend. I assumed that he had memory lapses when Oliver was in the hospital. When you watch without hearing words, you try to make sense of what you see which could form the wrong perceptions. You put the pieces together based on the facial expressions, gestures, and other stimuli and artifacts that you could observe – the manner which people dress up, the codes and texts in the surroundings. Thus, one looks at the totality of the environment and how the actors are interacting in it to make sense of the message being delivered. As such, there is such an expression that says, “read between the lines”. We pay attention not only to the words said, but the tone and pitch they were uttered, the facial gestures and body movements that were demonstrated as the words were spoken, and the proximity in space when delivering the message.

Learning from this experience, the next time I communicate with people, apart from words, a wide range of non-verbal cues could help in verifying and validating the message being conveyed – do they complement or present discrepancies?

Reference:

O’Hair, D., Wiemann, M., Mullin, D. I., & Teven, J.  (2015). Real communication (3rd. ed). New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

 


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A Great Communicator

Coming from a country that uses English as a medium of communication at school and other public entities, I became bilingual. I heard and spoke Tagalog first and soon learned English as I started school. Our textbooks were from the US, but our teachers were Filipinos. From there was a disconnect being able to read words phonetically and understanding the texts as they were not based on the contexts that I am familiar with. Therefore, much of what I was learning was just rote. My understanding was further developed as I watched American shows on TV. Thus, I developed the confidence to read English texts better than speak it. I was too scared to make grammatical errors that I was not able to express my train of thoughts fluidly. Since then, I aimed to improve my oral communication skills.

Knowing many people who have reached far and wide outside their domains were people  who spoke different languages. Gandhi, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Nelson Mandela were able to influence many not because of their flawless English, but what they communicate and the way they communicate.

One person that I admire so much and has influenced my thinking is Thich Naht Hanh. He is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who worked hard in 10.03_34_TNH_MindfulnessHappiness_featurereconciling North and South Vietnam during the war. He later went on exile to France. He is now a global spiritual leader, poet, and peace activist. Thich Naht Hanh has published several books on peace, happiness, and mindfulness. His writings are not based solely on the principles of Buddhism. He has embraced different perspectives and have presented them in ways that they can embrace each other. During his public appearances, a sea of crowd would always gather from near and far to hear what he would have to say. He conveys messages that appeases and calms a troubled mind.

Learning from him, I see the importance of the message that one wants topresence-440262_1280 convey and how the message can be addressed so that people would listen and absorb such a message. It is not being able to deliver an impeccable and grammatically perfect English message that I used to think. It is making people want to listen and interact with you because they make connections with what you say/write.

One of my favourite quotes of Thich Nhat Hanh is,

“Look at flowers, butterflies, trees, and children with the eyes of compassion. Compassion will change your life and make it wonderful.”

— Thich Nhat Hanh
Reference:
Plum Village. (2016). Retrieved from http://plumvillage.org/about/thich-nhat-hanh/.