Four Agreements to Keep Early Childhood Teachers Sane
Here comes summer!! As early childhood educators, we love our jobs, truly we do! But we are teachers of unreasonable, unsanitary, and oftentimes unruly children under 5-years-old… without a summer break! Before you pull out the seven good strands of hair you have left, I want to share my adaptation of Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements for early childhood educators as we reflect back on the past school year and think about the upcoming one.
(Aside: While this is not explicitly Jewish, I would encourage everyone to see the many parallels.)
- Be Impeccable with Your Word: Only commit to doing things that you will be able to do. If we consistently make promises we can’t keep, then we will lose the trust of the children. Trust is the foundation on which all our relationships are built.
- Don’t take anything personally: Look in the mirror and repeat the phrase, “It’s not about me.” It is developmentally appropriate for some of the kids we teach to be entirely self-centered. As their teachers, it stopped being developmentally appropriate for us decades ago.
- Don’t make assumptions: This applies more to the parents than the kids. The truth is, we can only guess why Hannah’s hair is never brushed or why David’s clothes always look dirty. It is our job to be kind and compassionate, not judgmental.
- Always Do Your Best: Do your best to keep your promises. Do your best to not take things personally. Do your best to be kind and compassionate to others and yourself.
If you are feeling anxious, angry, frustrated, or out of control in any way, take what my class calls a “cookie breath.” Inhale deeply through your nose with your eyes closed and imagine that you are smelling your favorite kind of cookies. Blow continuously through your mouth to cool those cookies off so that you can eat them. Now pretend to eat the cookies.
I love my job.
Emily Jones, BA, MBA, Certified Early Interventionist
Special Educator, Inclusion 3s class
Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center’s Bertha Alyce School