Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Communication Skills for Policy Change

In order to lead policy change, one must embody these communication skills:  clear and concise and a listener. When a policy maker is clear and concise they paint a picture to listeners (Mind Tools, n.d.) explaining their cause in order community members and lawmakers can understand.  However, even though an advocate may be enthusiastic and could talk about their cause for hours, one must be aware of how much information is share and keep communication concise.  When a person communicates effectively, they stick to the point and keep it brief. As an agent for social change, it is imperative that you share important points with community members and lawmakers but also give them an opportunity to determine the next steps in solving the problem (Mind Tools, n.d.).

The second characteristic, one must embody is a listener. A listener understands how the speaker feels about what they are communicating. A listener makes the speaker feel heard and understood and clarify information when unsure of the message (Helpguide, n.d.).  Communication is two-way.  If a person does not take the time to actively listen, they will not be certain if their message was heard correctly nor will they be certain that the speaker's actions to the cause will be appropriate.  Without a clear and concise communication and active listening, one can express how they are feeling.  These skills are necessary

Recently, I took a Communication Anxiety test which determined that I have mild anxiety in which I feel bit uneasy in some communication situations and confident in others (Laureate Education, 2011).    Depending on my audience and familiarity with the subject, my anxiety will either increase or decrease.  When my anxiety increases, the message is not as clear and I tend to ramble on which effects my articulation causing me to mumble and not express thoughts accurately .  As a listener, I have a tendency to not  focus on the speaker. Rather, I am on the computer checking emails, sending a text, or driving.  Multi-tasking skews the speaker's information and does not place value on their words and ideas. I need to work on attending to the speaker whether in person or on the phone personally and professionally.

References: (n.d.). Effective communication. Retrieved October 15, 2013, from

Laureate Education (Producer). (2011). Communication anxiety [Interactive media]. Retrieved from

Mind Tools. (n.d.). The 7 Cs of communication: A checklist for clear communication. Retrieved October 15, 2013, from

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Social Media Furthering the Cause

Two social medias types that I would use to further communicate policy issues on universal Pre-Kindergarten in Charles County, Maryland are Facebook and Blogger.

  1.  Facebook was established ten years ago as a place for collegiate students to form relationships. Since its inception, Facebook has expanded their membership to all walks of life throughout the world.  Facebook has been credited for the uprising against the Egyptian's Mubarak government in January 2011 uprising.  Bel Trew explained that during that time, "'It also acted as an alternative to traditional Egyptian media.Citizen journalism really exploded in 2011 and Facebook and Twitter were one of those ways, well two of those ways, that people were able to get information out there to the rest of the world because their own media wasn't helping'"(Anonymous, 2014, para. 8).  Facebook changed history in Egypt and has the potential to change early childhood policies.  Facebook allows users to organize interest and advocacy groups where anyone who belongs to the site can join.  In these groups, site administrators and group members can post information about universal preschool including articles and blogs. One of the challenges in using Facebook would be group members may not agree with your view or the process that you desire to implement universal Pre-Kindergarten in Charles County, Maryland. Group members may post their views on the topic which may distract from the common goal. In order to lessen these types of incidents, security settings would need to be adjusted to benefit the cause.  
  2. Blogger  is a free blog site where individuals can set-up a blog where readers can respond to their blog and share their insights. In blogger, one can subscribe to your feeds and receive notifications whenever a new entry is published. One of the challenges with using a blog would be publicizing its existence beyond colleagues and friends.  In order to promote their blog, one can place the link onto other social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. 

Anonymous (2014, Feb 06). Egypt: In egypt, facebook serves as tool for government, opponents. Asia News Monitor Retrieved from

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Professional Goals

The following goals will assist me in becoming more effective as an early childhood professional:

1.  Obtain knowledge of the Common Core Standards and how it correlates with established early childhood systems 
  • The Common Core Standards does not have student learning objectives for children in pre-kindergarten. The Common Core Standards are for grades kindergarten through twelfth grade.  Since leaving kindergarten two years ago, I feel like I have been disconnected from current educational issues and can relate to the educational needs of children under the Maryland State Curriculum.  Understanding the Common Core Standards and how it correlates with established early childhood systems would allow me to adjust or modify instruction in order to meet children's social, emotional, and cognitive developmental needs. 
  • The following link shares how pre-kindergarten teachers throughout the country are attempting to keep up with the Common Core.
 2.  Explore alternative evaluation systems for Maryland early childhood programs to ensure quality programs

  • Every three years, Maryland early childhood programs are accredited and validatedIn order for programs to pass validation, a self-appraisal team consisting of teachers, instructional assistants, an administrator, and a parent evaluates the program. After each team member has evaluated the program, program needs are formulated and tabulated into a document entitled the Program Improvement Plan.  Then, staff members work on improving weaker areas of the program and a validation date is set.  On the day of validation, the validators walk through the classroom observing items from the self-appraisal document and reviewing documentation.  Once the validators review documentation, they make a recommendation whether the school passes or fails.  If a school passes, the validators will not evaluate the program for another three years.   

  • I have participated in this process four times. Each year, staff members frantically gather documentation and make their classrooms prestine for the validation visit.  When the visit is over, old habits gradually reappear.  However, the program never loses its accreditation and validation during the three year period. 

  • Exploring alternative evaluation systems could allow for programs to be evaluated and monitored at a greater rate which would hold programs to a greater degree of accountability and allow practices to remain consistent.  
3.  Delve into the political ramifications behind Universal Preschool

  • For eight years, I taught kindergarten.  Each year the children who attended the children who attended our school's pre-kindergarten program entered kindergarten better prepared socially, emotionally, and cognitively compared to students who did not have this experience.  Each year of one my co-workers was an advocate for universal pre-kindergarten. Each year, she stated her desire for all children to have pre-kindergarten and devised ways in order for that to occur such as having the pre-kindergarten program be half days in order to service additional students. Each year, her ideas fell on deaf ears.   
  •  Federal government dominates public spending on preschool preschool. "From 2008 to 2011, federal spending increased while local and state funding decreased" (Barnett, 2010, p. 2).  However "with the increased spending only 65% of children in the lowest two income quintiles attended a preschool program" (2010, p. 3).  
  • With staggering statistics, why are so many children not being given an opportunity to attend a preschool program?  Why has not the United States of America adopted a universal preschool program?  Underdeveloped countries such as Guyana has an universal nursery program.  Has the child care industry hindered the universal preschool movement in the United States? Exploring these issues would give me insight on how to effectively campaign for universal preschool.


Barnett, S. (2010). Universal and targeted approaches to preschool education in the United States. International Journal of Child Care and Education Policy, 4(1), 1–12. Retrieved from



Friday, February 14, 2014

Final thoughts

Influences of Family Culture and Society course challenged how I view people who do not share the same cultural background, sexual orientation, religion or social class as myself.  The course challenged me to examine microaggressions that I have committed towards others who do not belong to the dominant group in American society and look at the intolerance through another person's perspective. Marsha Hawley recalled how classmates would say, "Watch out for her, the yellow peril. Watch out for her. She can't be trusted. Or, she's cheap. She's made in Japan" (Laureate Education, 2013).  Her mother told her to ignore these comments and her father told her to be proud that she is Japanese.  In reality, she had no avenue to explore her feelings.  As I viewed her story throughout the course, I realized that she used childhood adversity to guide her passion and to form her career choice. 
One of the most influential course readings was When the Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures by Fadiman. This book exemplified how the lack of communication, cultural awareness, and cultural sensitivity transformed the life of a child, Lia Lee.  Lia had epilepsy.  In the Hmong culture, epileptics were fitted for divine office and often become shamans. The seizures gave them powers to perceive things other people could not see and facilitate trances (Fadiman, 2012). While in Western society, the seizures were caused by misfirings in the brain and needed to be controlled by anticonvulsant medicine. When the parents could not follow the complicated daily medicine routine, Social Services removed Lia from the home.  However, if the doctors and the parents spoke a common language and understood each others culture and beliefs, the child may never have been removed. If the doctors had realized that the Lees desired the best for Lia rather than surmising that they were deliberately disobeying doctors’ orders, Lia may have never been placed in foster care. The parents could have explained how the medicines were effecting their daughter, and the doctors could have altered her treatment. After reading the book, I reflected on how as Americans many times we think that our way is the best way, so we do not take the time to understand other ways.  If the American doctors had taken the time to communicate with the Lees and to understand their beliefs, Lia's life would have been different. 

Click on this link:  It shows the influence adults have on children's lives.    
As I reflected on the video clip and the course material, I realize that we do not understand the influence that we have on children. Our words and our actions help mold children.  For example, one mother recounted an event where one of the neighborhood children came after her oldest son with a knife because her husband had been deployed. She concluded that the kid was insinuating that her husband was personally responsible for the war and that he should not be in the war (Mmari, Roche, Sudhinarest, and Blum, 2009). Most likely, an adult influenced his attitude towards the war either through social media, news outlets, or a parent. The child's action could have been catastrophic. As an early childhood professional, I need to be cognizant of not only the words I say but also my actions.  I need to teach love and respect, but I also need to show these characteristics in my actions towards everyone I come in contact.  


           Fadiman, A. (2012). The spirit catches you and you fall down: A Hmong child, her American doctors and the collision of two cultures. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
  Laureate Education (Producer). (2013). Biases and microaggressions passed on through generations [Video file]. Retrieved from 
 Mmari, K., Roche, K., Sudhinaraset, M., & Blum, R. (2009).  When a parent goes off to war: exploring the issues faced by adolescents and their families.  Youth Society 40(4), 455-475. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Interviews.....

Military deployment does not only affect the service member but the family as well. For the course project, I selected Kimberly Casto, a Navy wife, and Valentina Kennedy, a professional school counselor, to interview. Mrs. Casto has been married to her husband, Douglas Casto for twenty years. Douglas Casto serves the country in the U.S. Navy. Nine years ago, Mr. Casto was deployed for nine months on a Mediterranean Cruise while Mrs. Casto raised their twin children. Mrs. Kennedy is a professional school counselor for Charles County Public Schools. She has worked for nine years at school near a naval station. During her tenure, she has counseled students about parental deployment through group and individual sessions. She has counseled parents during pre-deployment and post-deployment and provided community resources to families.

I conducted both interviews on Wednesday, January 8th. I conducted a phone interview with Mrs. Kennedy. I have never personally met Mrs. Kennedy; however, she was recommended to me from my professional school counselor. I emailed her the questions prior to the interview, so she was familiar with them.  Since she was familiar with the questions, there was not a lot of down time as she formulated her answers.  The interview lasted approximately thirty minutes. After school, I interviewed Mrs. Casto in person. At the beginning of the interview, my instructional assistant and her son were leaving.  Mrs. Casto made a few comments about their relationship which led into a discussion about previous relationships.  After the small talk was completed, I began the interview.  I did not provide her with the questions prior to the interview, but she easily answered the questions.  The interview lasted approximately 40 minutes.  During the interview, I interjected my experiences which I did not do the previous interview .  Was this interview more relaxed due to the fact that I work with her or was it due to the fact that the interview was with a co-worker?  It was probably a combination of the both. 

Question: During both interviews, I had generated questions that did not easily follow the response from the previous question.  Sometimes, I was able to generate follow-up questions while other times, I stated the next question on the list.  While determining which action to take, there was an awkward silence. Did anyone have similar experiences?  How did you handle it? 

Key Point:  A key point from the interviews, Mrs. Casto said, "Some people aren't programmed for being a military spouse." When I asked her to elaborate, she stated, "A military wife needs to be strong, to be able to care for yourself, to trust their spouse, be loyal, and don't believe everything you hear."  She followed-up her response with advice from her mother who was a military wife as well: trust in your husband, trust in God and you'll be fine.   

Thursday, November 28, 2013

We're in the Army NOW!

Left, left right, left.. left, left, left right...These are the marching orders of the military.  However, the military is more than just following orders. 

The military serves our country in war and peace.  In 2011, the U.S. military included over 1.4 million men and women, and 71% of them had children (Hanson and Lynch, 2013, p. 9).  When one serves in the military, the entire family serves.  Living and working near Andrews Air Force Base, Patuxent River Naval Air Station and Indian Head Naval Surface Warfare Center, military families are prevalent.  However with minimal interactions leaves one wondering is there really a difference between civilian and military families? 

Does military culture influence family dynamics off the base?  How does deployment effect children's development?  How does relocation affect families and children? Does this affect children's ability to make and keep friends?  What strategies do early childhood professionals need to utilize to support child development?


Hanson, M. J., & Lynch, E. W. (2013). Understanding families: Approaches to diversity, disability, and risk.  Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.