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  • Steven Gotfried posted an article
    Four Agreements to Keep Early Childhood Teachers Sane see more

    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.)

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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
    Houston, Texas


    June 2019

  • ECE-RJ posted an article
    10 Ways to be Kind to Yourself During Times of Stress see more

    10 Ways to be Kind to Yourself During Times of Stress

    During Passover, we savor time with family and friends as we gather around the Seder meal. The weather begins to get lovely with the sun shining and flowers blooming. It is the perfect time to sit outside, get out in nature and just be grateful for the changing seasons.

    As much as we would like to take time to enjoy the sunshine, we are usually inundated with pressing thoughts and reflections. We are thinking about the end of this school year, and looking ahead to the next school year. We are meeting with and evaluating staff. We are working on our budget. And to top it off, we are busy planning for Passover at our school and home. All of which can lead to uneasiness and stress for the heart and mind. 

    The following is a list of 10 ways to be kind to yourself during times of stress:

    1. Take 5 minutes. Sit by a window and look outside. What do you see? Notice the colors, shapes and movements at play. Buildings sitting still. Birds flying. Trees swaying. Clouds. Take it in. Breathe. Find beauty in our world and this life, at this moment.
    2. Connect your body to the breath. Sit comfortably. Close your eyes. Inhale through the nose. Gently tilt your head to one side sending the ear towards the shoulder. Exhale through the nose. Inhale, gently tuck your chin into your chest and rotate head to the other side, sending opposite ear to shoulder. Exhale. Repeat a few times and then do full head and circles. Don’t forget to breathe.
    3. Listen to music. Put some headphones on or turn the music up loud in your room.  Play a favorite song or one that is meaningful and makes you feel good. Sit. Dance. Laugh. Cry. Take a deep breath. Inhale and exhale. Turn it up. Be the song. Let the rhythm move you.
    4. Be grateful. Upon waking or before going to bed, write down 3 things you are grateful for and state why you are grateful. 
    5. Turn off technology. Take 20 minutes to an hour and “unplug” from technology. Turn off the television, computer or radio and leave your phone in another room entirely. Maybe read a book, write in a journal, or you just sit in the quiet. Resist the urge to go to your phone.
    6. Get up and move.  If you are at work and have feel stuck at your computer, stand up once or twice an hour and move. Walk down the hallways, around the building, or the long way to the restroom.
    7. Say no. Prioritize what is most important for you right now.  When we don’t set appropriate boundaries, it leads to stress, exhaustion, and meltdowns.  Recognize that you can’t do everything and that is OK.
    8. Smile.  It is that simple. The physical act of smiling, even when you may not necessarily be in a smiling mood, is proven to reduce stress. 
    9. Remember that you are human.  It starts with awareness. We all make mistakes. Let go of any perfectionist tendencies that may be dragging you down. Let go of any unrealistic standards that you set for yourself and fail to reach.  Relax. Remember you’re human, and move onward.
    10. Take it all in for a moment.  At some point during your Passover Seder, pause for just a minute. Listen to the discussions. Notice the sounds, smells, feelings, and the movements. Notice voices and facial expressions. Breathe. Notice your body. Relax your shoulders. Remove the tongue from the roof of your mouth. Relax the belly. Soften the eyes. Breathe. Love. Live. Be grateful.


    Mary Passell
    Director, Temple Chai Early Childhood Center
    Temple Chai, Phoenix, AZ