The Child Care Business Podcast

Season 2, Episode 12: Building Resilience Among Early Childhood Educators, with Donna Skea

September 30, 2022 Procare Solutions Season 2 Episode 12
The Child Care Business Podcast
Season 2, Episode 12: Building Resilience Among Early Childhood Educators, with Donna Skea
Show Notes Transcript

As child care centers struggle to find and keep good teachers and other staff, building resilience is key. 

In this podcast, Donna Skea joins us from Quebec to share some tips on doing just that! 

Donna is the founder of The Infinite Educator, which provides workshops on all aspects of early childhood education, including on building resiliency in the childcare workforce, which is what she’ll be discussing with us today.

 She also is an early childhood education professor at Vanier College.

Listen as Donna talks about getting back to the basics of why we love child care and early childhood educationand the importance of building community and offering professional development, as well as more!

Check Donna's Facebook page if you'd like to learn more about her services, as well as her page on LinkedIn! You also can email her at donna@theinfiniteeducator.ca. 

 

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Childcare Business Podcast, brought to you by ProCare Solutions. This podcast is all about giving childcare , preschool, daycare , afterschool, and other early education professionals. A fun and upbeat way to learn about strategies and inspiration you can use to thrive. You'll hear from a variety of childcare thought leaders, including educators, owners, and industry experts on ways to innovate, to meet the needs of the children you serve. From practical tips for managing operations to uplifting stories of transformation and triumph, this podcast will be chalk full of insights you can use to fully realize the potential of your childcare business. Let's jump in.

Speaker 2:

Welcome everybody to the Childcare Business Podcast. Uh , excited to be with you again . This is Ryan Walt , and , uh, as always , uh, our marketing team has scanned the industry, both , uh, you know, domestically here in the US but also North America in general. And so I'm super excited for today's guest. Uh , Donna Ski , uh, is with us from Quebec, and we'll talk a little bit about , uh, Quebec and maybe Montreal and , uh, learn a little bit about that part of the world. But , um, Donna is the founder of the Infinite Educator , uh, which provides workshops on all aspects of early childhood education, including on building resiliency in the childcare workforce , uh, which is what we're gonna spend some time talking about today. Um, Donna is also an early childhood educator, education professor, excuse me, at , uh, Veneer College. And I'll see if she , um, how do I pronounce it , Donna?

Speaker 3:

It's at Vanet College.

Speaker 2:

Vanay College. Yeah . And let me just with that, say welcome to the show, Donna. It's nice to meet you.

Speaker 3:

Thank you, Ryan. I really appreciated you. Invited me on. This is very exciting. All the way up from Canada. <laugh> .

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Van . So it's, I pronounced it wrong. And that was one of the things I was gonna ask you, cuz I've never been to Quebec . And are you, are you in Montreal? Are you right In Montreal? Yes. So, yes ,

Speaker 3:

I'm , uh, in the west island of Montreal. Yes.

Speaker 2:

All right . So for our audience, cuz I would say that predominantly our audience is gonna be in the US although we have lots of customers as well in the provinces across Canada. Um, for our audience who has maybe never been to Quebec, what, what is Quebec known for? Like, i I , is there something Quebec is known for? And maybe a follow up question, more specific. If somebody was gonna come to Quebec and only had one day to spend there, anything that you're like, if you're gonna be in Montreal, in province in general, you have to do this.

Speaker 3:

Okay . Now we are , um, known for what they call and , uh, that means , uh, having a good time. So , uh, when you come to Quebec , um, the place that you would probably spend your day at would be the old port . And so the old port is just what it sounds like it is . The old buildings from like three, 400 years ago. Cobblestone streets , amazing food. Uh , every restaurant has a , um, like a outdoor eating area where you can just enjoy and people watch. There is , um, so many activities to do down there. You're right on the water. We are an island, so , uh, there's a lot of stuff that we, we can do there. Uh , right now we're just finishing up the , the , uh, just for laughs Uh , our 40th anniversary and all the comedians come in from all around the world to come to our , um, our little town. And , uh, that's always , uh, a big party. I was down there last week and it was like dancing in the streets and it was like, that's kind of what Montreal is known for, for being a bit of a , a fun time when you come to Quebec,

Speaker 2:

When you come to, I like that. So, I mean, that's actually, if , if anything, if there's a tourism department that wants to, you know, hire you, the attraction come into Quebec is, it's a place to have fun. So old port . Yes . When you're walking around old Port , and this is maybe my lack of knowledge of the area, but is there a lot of French speaking people in the area? Is it like predominantly French or do most people speak English?

Speaker 3:

Well, it's predo. The province itself is predominantly French. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But in the tourist areas, particularly Old Port , downtown Montreal, that area, we are all bilingual. So , um, if you come in and say, Hi, I'd like to seek for two, we're like, Sure, come on in. But if you come in in French and say , uh, I'm , so there's always at , um, opportunity. We are a very, Montreal in particular is a very bilingual , um, part of Quebec. Other places are definitely more francophone, more French , um, but Montreal known for as tourism and we have to cater to everybody coming in. So yes, we're all quite bilingual.

Speaker 2:

That's amazing. So this might be a good segue a little bit into like our topic and, you know, early childhood education and, and education in general. But going all the way back, are you from Montreal , um, originally and then in school in Quebec. Is that actually part of the curriculum? Like, so the bilingual , um, kind of approach to, you know, learning language. Is every student go through both English and French, or how does that work? Or is it just kind of organic because a

Speaker 3:

Lot of , Well , it's much interesting cause I don't wanna get too much into politics, but , um, the English children in the province of Quebec are lucky enough to be given the opportunity to become bilingual. So I have three daughters and they are completely and absolutely bilingual. It's because they learned in school. My oldest daughter was very proficient in French, so she did her kindergarten to grade three in French only, and then switched to English. And then my, my twins, I have a set of twins. Um, they did , uh, 50 50 in French. So when they was French one day was English. So they learned , they , they built up both languages at the same time. And that starts in kindergarten. In fact, it actually starts in our daycares.

Speaker 2:

That's amazing. So do the , do families then get to choose which of those tracks as best for their child? Like the 50 50 versus the full immersion? Or is that like student ?

Speaker 3:

Yes . For the English children, yes. For the English children, they have a choice to make , um, for them to, and usually they can figure out whether or not the child is , uh, proficient in a second language early on because of the exposure. And if they feel comfortable , um, they'll put their children and immerse their children into French. So if they stay here in the province of Quebec, and they're perfectly bilingual, you know, the , the world is their own, because now they have their , they have two languages in the French system , it's a little less English. Um , they don't really see the bilingualism as a benefit as much as the English C having the two languages. So the microphone children, although they learn a lot now through social media and watching TV and all of that stuff, they don't necessarily get as much English as the , as the English get French

Speaker 2:

As the English get French. I love that. You know, I mean, I think as a student looking back, I took Spanish one like five times. Like I tell that story like, like I just never could quite get myself to, you know, learn the language when it was in a classroom setting for getting a grade. But in traveling abroad, when you actually, you know, interact in places where if you wanna talk story and be able to interact with other human beings, not being able to do that is a huge motivator to learn a language. Mm-hmm . <affirmative> . And so I love, you know, places that, you know, immerse children in that early. Cause I think it's such an advantage , um, you know, for them to be able to be bilingual and that opens up so many doors internationally and travel. So that's cool. And

Speaker 3:

That , and yeah . And in our daycare system , um, a lot of the daycares , um, that I work with, they're considered bilingual. So especially in the older age groups . So let's say in the threes and the fours, there'll be one educator that only speaks French and there'll be one educator that only speaks English. So like story time by the French educator will be French songs and French , uh, story books and you know, French conversation and then English educator. So, and they sweeped off. So even if the children don't necessarily have both languages when they go into elementary school, they have the exposure to both languages before they enter into kindergarten.

Speaker 2:

I love that. And is that like, maybe talking a little bit about childcare in Quebec in general, is it, is it similar to what you know about like us and other provinces where, you know, families that need their children in childcare , it's an out of pocket expense for families if they can afford it and then the government subsidizes those who need help? Or is the government more involved in Quebec around childcare than in other places? Oh ,

Speaker 3:

We are much more, yeah, we are much more involved. And I would say probably in the, oh my goodness, early two thousands , um, we had a government come into , um, into power and they won on the idea of $5 a day daycare .

Speaker 2:

Wow.

Speaker 3:

They implemented, and so they won <laugh> and then , then they had to implement $5 a day daycare , um, which was done in increments. And so I would say by oh 2004, 2005 , uh, right across the board it was $5 a day. Now since things have changed and and governments have changed, but right now our parents right across the board, unless it's a non subsidized like home daycare or something like that, every parent pays about $10 a day for their children.

Speaker 2:

Wow. And

Speaker 3:

The rest of it is subsidized by the government. It is really a government kind of , um, cause we have this thing , uh, we have government one centers , um, they're called <inaudible> . They're CPEs, we call 'em CPEs. And they are nonprofit early childhood centers that , um, are some of the best in our province , any of the CPEs. And they all government funded , um, educators are paid at , uh, 19 and 20 . I think the max you can get is 25, 20 $6 an hour now. Um, you know, they have to be qualified. They , they have to meet certain criteria and parents pay about $10 . I think it's $10 and 35 cents or something like that now , um, a day.

Speaker 2:

That's amazing. And , and I like, I could like talk about this for a long time too, cause I'm so curious about it too. But does that put the four , the privately run center ? So for the entrepreneurs who run childcare in Quebec, does that, is it a difficult business to create a sustainable business business that's going to like provide uh , uh, living?

Speaker 3:

No, because the need, the need for childcare is so cute . Even if , um, because what happened, and I don't think they recognized that this was gonna happen before, it was like, I don't know, 45, $50 a day. Right. So a lot of people, a lot of mothers were staying home with their children until their children went to kindergarten. Well , with the , uh, introduction of , you know , affordable childcare , all tons of women went back to work . And so the need for childcare is huge here in Quebec, most uh , families have two parents that are at work full time . Right. Because now it's affordable to be able to go back to work. Like even if they take a portion of that, I mean , uh, you know, it's 250 ballers maybe , uh, a month for childcare for

Speaker 2:

Child , which makes more sense cuz they can afford it. But when it was so expensive, it was like, Yeah .

Speaker 3:

When it's ,

Speaker 2:

I'm paying more than I'm making in that second income. Yeah, exactly. So how did , so how did you get into like outta curiosity? So when you go all the way back, I ask this sometimes if Yes , early days when you thought about, oh, what I wanna be when I grow up. That famous question that kids get asked, was it, do you remember thinking like , what do I wanna be when , when I , when I grow up? Was it always something in this education role? Or did that come later for you?

Speaker 3:

Well , all the way back to , um, my grade six experience , um, I was sitting there the first day . I totally , it's eye right now . And we need volunteers help out in the kind class as I can say. The rest is the history. I went in there, the teacher was lovely, she was lovely to me. The children , um, accepted me. Um, I , I spent every moment I could, even though I was my grade six year , I'm supposed to be getting ready for high school and being on that. Cool, You know, Im grade six now . I was hanging out with the children in the kindergarten class. I was just loving every moment of it. So, you know, that's when ,

Speaker 2:

Go ahead, I'm sorry.

Speaker 3:

I said, and like 30 years later , I've been in the field 30 years later , I still absolutely love what I do. Um , I totally believe in the field of early childhood and I , and I'm a huge advocate for educators. I just think I, I, I lucked out. I really lucked out in finding where my passion was.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. It's not, it's not common unfortunately. Or maybe it's more common than we think, but you know, that kind of adage of like, find something that you're really passionate about and then figure out how to make a career out of it or , or something to that effect of, you know, actually waking up every day and being excited about what you do is an amazing gift. And, you know, obviously for us to have people in the industry, that approach work that way is so fun to be around. Did you, how did you then become a professor? Walk me through that path really quick cuz if I'm not mistaken, a a big majority of your career has been teaching early education curriculum at Veneer College, right? Or Vanny College. Vanny College. Um , yeah . How did you get into that?

Speaker 3:

For 10 years, I was , uh, an early childhood educator. So I am by trade, a qualified early childhood educator. I loved it. And then I started having children of my own . Um, and so my oldest daughter, who was now 23 , um, she would go off to daycare. I would go off to daycare and then I would come home and she would be like, playing with me, Mommy. And I was like , Uh, I don't wanna <laugh> .

Speaker 2:

I'm tired .

Speaker 3:

Yeah . I love you , but I'm , I , and , and so I kinda had a sort of a , a moment where I was like, Wait a minute. I'm giving all of my energy, all of my, all of the good stuff , um, to everybody else's children and, and not saving enough for my own. Um, and um, and at that time also there , early childhood educators , um, so we're talking like, we're talking late nineties, right ? So , uh, salaries were poor. Um, zero recognition. But I knew I wanted to stay in this field, so I decided at that time. So my oldest at the time was four, and I decided to go back and do my masters . And , uh, and so I started to do my master's and I , uh, saw an ad in the paper for , uh, Vanya College, looking for early childhood professors . And I'm like , I'm just gonna , in my CV eventually could hire me . Sorry . And

Speaker 2:

Cv , just just to confirm your CV means what In

Speaker 3:

Oh , my resume.

Speaker 2:

Your resume.

Speaker 3:

Ok . Sorry . Ok . There is gonna be a little bit of a language thing . Anyway , so I , I sent in my resume and uh , and they called me for an interview and I was like, maybe three courses into my master . And , uh, and I went for an interview. There was 12 people at the table , and then me , uh, yeah , the dean, the associate dean, this , that , the department . It was like the , was everybody . So I went on and on. I had the interview, got the job . Um , and so I was doing my master's . And then , uh, I was , I started teaching at college and , uh, you know , went on and had , and it took me years to get my master's degree, but I got it . And , uh,

Speaker 2:

So you got your master's while you were teaching there as well, So kind of doing the dual track, like you're a professor, you're teaching, but you're also completing your master's at the same time.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. And raising

Speaker 2:

And raising children . Yeah. Twins. So you kind of like , Hey , if you're gonna do life, do it. Right. Right. Just,

Speaker 3:

I know it's like , you know, learning the candle at both ends with the kids to bed, write a paper, go to bed, you know, get up, eat , you know, it was all ,

Speaker 2:

Maybe , maybe think once in a while .

Speaker 3:

I don't think I could do it now, but back then I had a lot of energy.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. It's amazing. Moms are superheroes and , you know, in general. And so to hear stories of like, you know, putting in all that time and effort to get to where you are, what did, so I know you've been there for many years. Talk about what happened during Covid and in particular you decided to kind of branch out and, and I know that's always a risk to step in. This will kind of lead us into, I think, our conversation, some of the topic for today. But I know it sounds like you kind of took a risk on something that you had been wanting to do for a while , which is, is doing something outside of the classroom in terms of consulting and education. So talk about, you know, infinite education and what led to that.

Speaker 3:

Well, it was interesting. So during , um, one of the things that I was noticing , uh, in my classroom , uh, with my students, with myself , um, with the children and with the educators. I have lots of friends in the field, lots of people that I know. It was hard. We struggled a lot , um, doing on teaching students to become early childhood educators on Zoom. It was, it was, I'm gonna say it was terrible. It was terrible. I was teaching a course on how to build effective relationships with children while I couldn't even engage with my students . So it was all of the , these challenges. And then , uh, I , I could see that people were just getting worn down. And , um, last summer, I kind of , like you said, took a bit of a , and I recognized that there was kinda a gap in the field of , um, people giving workshops, whether it in person or Zoom . I found , particularly here in my province in English, there seemed to be a lack of a bridge between , um, daycare or preschool and elementary school. And here incorrectly we're starting to implement. What we have is , I don't know if you guys like a junior kindergarten or a , or a , you know, a pre-k preschool. Yeah, preschool. But in the school system. So they were implementing four year olds and five year olds, or the five year olds were kindergarten, but they were implementing four year olds in the , in the elementary school system. But without giving anybody , um, any tools to be able to manage what it's like a four year old , four year , and know in care , three year old , four year old , and even five year old , how you manage them, the curriculum, the building, the effective relationship, it's very different than how you would do it in an elementary school system, right? So it's not the same. And there were so many teachers who were working with Ks , uh, pre-Ks that didn't have the skills or the tools that they needed. And so I kind of formed my company , uh, with the notion that I could help out in the daycare system as well as , uh, I'm also working in the school system helping teachers understand preschool children. So giving workshops on what is a preschool child, what does a preschool environment look like, what does, And it just all came together. And being somebody's so super passionate about this field, you know, the idea of the infinite educator, It's funny, I have been a professor for 20 years, but if you ask me what I do for a living, I'm an early founded educator.

Speaker 2:

That's still what you do at the

Speaker 3:

Core. Oh , what I do as a core , despite the fact that I've put in more years as a professor, I just, I am an educator. That's who I am . So along comes the name along comes the company, and it kinda just, it really did blow up. Uh , for me. I've been very fortunate. I've made lots of great connections. I'm working with a lot of the English school boards here in Quebec. I have , uh, workshops coming up. I'm gonna be giving a conference at , um, at the teachers , uh, convention this year. I've been asked to do some work with daycare educators in the school system . Uh , so it just kind all came about and it's been something , you know , that that kinda being in the back of your mind, you're like, I really like to do this. And I was very fortunate. I have a friend who's a business coach that took me on and kind of helped me with the business side of it, because I know early childhood, but I don't know , po you know , taxes and all the other stuff goes along with running a company or , or even setting up a company. So she took me under her wing and, and I just kind of went from there. So I'm kind of a one man show, You know, I've got the , the , the drum and the symbols and the

Speaker 2:

Yeah . Everything , everything . The instruments,

Speaker 3:

Everything is , Yeah . That's all me . I've got the Harmonic ready to go . I'm , I'm the one man show. But it's been such an amazing experience. I've met so many phenomenal people. Um, uh, two weeks ago I gave a workshop. I just have , I'm going off and tangent , I apologize. But I gave a workshop in Australia, so I, I, yeah, I did a Zoom .

Speaker 2:

That's amazing.

Speaker 3:

I did

Speaker 2:

Find , and there's no such , by the way, there's no such things as tangents on this podcast. We just go wherever it takes . Ok .

Speaker 3:

I have to tell you what an experience for me to be able to meet up 20 educators from the other side of the world. Um, I had to get up at 4:30 AM to give a 6:30 PM uh , workshop. I didn't care. They're like, Oh, we're sorry. I don't care . I don't care . That's , it was the most amazing thing . And Ryan , I have to tell you , the issues that are happening here in North America, they're happening , happening in Australia. The burnout , the , the lack of motivation, the the need for purpose, the whole thing that's , that's happening with the , with the field , with the profession and why so many people are leaving, It's happening globally. It's just not here in North America or in the US or in Canada . It's a global issue.

Speaker 2:

It's universal. Well, and that , I think that's one of the ways that we found you, Donna, you know, kind of, I don't know if it was through social media or LinkedIn or some work that you were doing that was made public, but I know you had done a poll and you know, this theme for us, when we talk with our customers and when we talk with, you know, guests on our show, and when we do webinars, the whole theme of burnout, staffing, retention, and the challenges around that topic is like, I mean, it's, it's the common thread that I think has run through the industry and all our conversations over the past six months with guests. But I know you had done a poll recently, just a simple poll somewhere around like, how many of you who are early educators are planning to stay in the industry? And I think that caught our attention because the results were pretty disheartening, if I'm not mistaken. Is that right?

Speaker 3:

Yes. I was actually quite surprised at how low it was for the people that were going go back . Only 3% said absolutely that they were gonna go back into the , um, what was the 33 said? 33% said that they were gonna take the summer to think about it, which means they probably were also looking around to see what else is out there. Mm-hmm . <affirmative> . But 43% had said that it was just too hard and they were gonna walk away and they were gonna try to look for something else. 43%

Speaker 2:

That yes , almost half of the workers in the space, Which, you know, we've seen a lot of statistics about the burnout. And I, you know , I know you've talked about this around, you know, during covid there was a lot of extra stress put on teachers and all the extra protocols and that you were around, you know, kids who, you know, were sick and maybe were more at risk, and there's all these extra things that were already added on top of a really difficult job that, you know, everybody could probably argue was underpaid. And so you start to add that up as a teacher, and it's like, Wow, I love kids. I wanna spend my time and energy doing this, but all of these things are kind of getting stacked against me. I don't, One of the things that has come outta that for you is in your conversations, is talking a lot about resiliency and , and how we as an industry or as individual owners of childcare programs, how they can help build resiliency in their staff. Like, do you have any like, practical takeaways or things you can share about, like, what you found in terms of how you build that, how somebody can build that kind of resiliency in the face of what they're dealing with right now?

Speaker 3:

Well, I think one of the things that I've learned from , um, from visiting lots and lots of daycare , so part of my job as a professor is I go from daycare to daycare supervising students in their stash. So I get get to have a lot of conversations with the educators. I've been also with the owners and the directors of these centers. So I , I get to know what's going on in the industry. I'm not just sitting, you know, in my professor tower or whatever . It's , I really get to hear what's going on now, how directors can really support , um, educators. I think it's really important , uh, that there needs to be that support. And, and the things that are coming out that I'm hearing from the educators is obviously it's, it's, it's a very low paying job. But the thing is, it's not just about the pay, right ? We know we're going into a job. We know we're going into a field that we're not gonna get paid for. We're there for a greater purpose, and we kinda want to be supported in that. But it's a really tough job, right? It is a really physically, emotionally, mentally demanding job to be an early childhood educator. So if directors really wanted some support, if they can't afford to give all the educators some , um, more money, which we know we can , it can happen. Or, you know, very few ed uh , owners can do that. Um, I would suggest having extra support staff, having one extra person in your center to help at those crucial critical times of the day, you know, going into an infant room , um, and all of a sudden the ratio is like, I don't know , 10 children to three adults as opposed to just two. And, and dealing with the children that way, that always helps. Or helping, you know, the toddler , uh, educator getting , uh, you know, 12 children dressed up in snowsuits. Let me tell you that , that that's , that'll break your back.

Speaker 2:

That's cool.

Speaker 3:

That's right . Talking educators , um, especially now that I'm giving the workshops, is that they do want more tools. They want more skills, They want more professional development in how to deal with the challenging behavior because children and parents have changed. Um, you know, the demand for the different types of curriculum has changed, the dynamics in the classroom has changed, you know , uh, so all of those things , um, if the educator doesn't know what to do or doesn't have the tools to be able to , um, to manage their classroom, that makes for a way more stressful , uh, environment and makes an educator wanna leave . But if the educator will stay , even if they're making a low salary, if they know that there is, you know , uh, you know, I like to say that Bay centers need to be like a community, you know, a community where everybody helps each other, everybody works together. So you get the community, you get the professional development support and that they need so that they have the tools to be able to be efficient in their job and to be able to just to give them that extra little bit of help when they need it. It says to the educators, I value you. I value what you are doing, and I wanna help you to be the best educator that you can be. And I think that's one of the things that helps on the , the outside of it , on the inside of it , as an educator, we really have to sort of look at ourselves. One of the things that I've noticed with educators , um, during the pandemic particularly, and I think everybody's kind of done, this is like kind of a head down kind of thing. Just get it done . Just get it done . Just get it done. Right . You know, just get through your day. Just get through your day. I know I'm nervous. I'm , I'm worried that I'm gonna bring this home to my family. I'm like , just get it done. And now that we're past that and now it's time to kind of look up again and see the positive things. I do this whole thing in my workshop about being grateful about switching our mindset to something more positive and to being able to sort of see the importance of our job and, and the legacy in which we provide , um, for these children and for the families. Um, there's a great TED talk by , uh, Adele Lawler called the Unconditional Kindness , uh, towards children. And she said that if you work with children, you become a memory in their memory bank. And what kind of memory do you wanna be in that child's memory bank? So if we look up and change our mindset to being positive, yes, this pandemic, there's nothing we can do about it, but we still can have a positive attitude. And we have to recognize at the same time as educators and all the adults that are around children, they're watching us. They're looking for cues from us on how to manage this. Cause if you figure a child who is two or three years old, they only know the pandemic. This is what they know. This is their life. And they're looking to the adults in their life to give them cues on, should I be really scared? Should I not wanna be near other people? Should I, should I always have to have my mask on ? Do I have to wash my hands a thousand times a day? Like , what is it that , you know , what are the messages the adults are sending to the children during this pandemic ? And cause their educators are children , what , 6, 7, 8, 9 hours a day? It's really important that educators recognize, Oh, wait a minute , somebody's watching me.

Speaker 2:

Yeah , I've got a bunch, a set of eyes watching me throughout the day. But I think, you know, what I , what I hear you say, which resonates with me and I think is so true, is, is for a lot of people in our space and educators that have been in the classrooms, either during and before, Covid is remembering why they do what they do. Like it's been maybe hard to do that over the past couple of years with all those extra things that we talked about, and some of the stresses that the emotional, the mental, even the physical stresses that you mentioned come with the job. But I think what I'm hearing you say is, you know, getting back to basics on why you've decided this career path and remembering mm-hmm . <affirmative> , you know, that's not all about money. And we certainly understand that, that, you know, that's always a part of the conversation that people have to factor in. But it's, it's, people chose this path because they had a passion about it and, and cared about it. Yeah. Did you, you mentioned earlier, like , yeah, there's a purpose to it for sure. I mean, maybe, you know, one of the most mission driven , you know, careers somebody could choose investing in, you know, early education, for sure. You , you referenced earlier the changes that providers have gone through and teachers have seen happen when you referenced changes. Did , do you specifically mean changes that have come over the last two and a half years through c or even like, for you personally watching this industry over the last 20 years, things have changed a lot. Like, is it, have you seen a lot of change in your experience even over the last couple years? Or were those things already happening and Covid just kind of like , um, highlighted at more of that makes sense?

Speaker 3:

Yes. Yes. I, I do definitely see that there's a , it was coming down , It was coming and then, then pandemic. The pandemic definitely made , uh, put a real big spotlight on it. Uh , the changes in children's behavior, changes in parenting, styles changing in the industry in of itself. Uh , people coming and going, not having that kind of stability , um, that, that kind of stuff is, is, is detrimental to the children and it's detrimental to the educator , um, because she doesn't know who she's gonna be working with , uh, from one week to another. Um, children and their behavioral issues more and more, and I am a hundred percent in , uh, in favor of inclusion. And I think that they should, children should be all children should be included in daycare centers, but not all educators are equipped with the tools to be able to deal with children with , uh, exceptionalities. So, you know, we want everybody to come into the centers, We want everybody there, but we just don't always have the tools. And parents have this interesting thing , they bring a whole other dynamic into it, right? Being , being a parent , Um, you know, depending on the type of parents who have some, most parents are so grateful , um, that the educators are there, that they love their children, that they can go to work and feel safe knowing that their child is cared for , um, and all of that. But, you know, there are the occasional parents that are challenging and expect, have high expectations, and some of them are very unrealistic expectations. Like, no, I'm not teaching your three year old how to read <laugh> . Like , it's just, you know, it's just not , it's not, it's not appropriate. Um, but you know, it , it all changes and it all comes , um, with how confident an educator feels in the classroom. I know educators who have been in the field for 30 years and still will come across a child that'll make them scratch their head and go, I don't know what to do with this one.

Speaker 2:

<laugh> , first time I've seen this one. Yeah, there's all , and those are the ones you remember, right? Like in my brief experiences of helping with young kids, especially as my kids were younger and help with different things that they were involved in. The challenging ones, which I love about, you know, the Little Rascals or whatever you wanna call, like, they're the ones you remember. Like , they

Speaker 3:

Love those ,

Speaker 2:

They even imprint . I know. So do I, and like they have personality and maybe there's different, unique challenges, but it ends up being the ones that you really remember too.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely. Absolutely. Those are the ones that may have pushed your buttons. Those are the ones that may have, you know, you've gone through all of your tools and you still can't figure out how to get this job to listen to you. Um, and those are the ones you look back, you'll remember that child's name, you remember who, you know exactly what he looks like, and you remember all of the hilarious stories that you have about, I mean, it wasn't funny then, but

Speaker 2:

Yeah, exactly. It's funny now in retrospect. Exactly, exactly.

Speaker 3:

It was in retrospect, you're gonna go, ok , that was pretty funny. But then you , yeah, you're like, Well, I

Speaker 2:

Think that's why educators too, you know, you have those kids that then they, you know, they , they come back, or there's a moment where they, they thank you for something that you did, or, you know, you were out sick and, and they were like, Where were you? We miss , like, and you realize that, like you said earlier, you know, these educators are making such an impact, and sometimes they don't see it on a day by day basis, but when those little things come out, I think it obviously instills and , you know, reminds everybody why they've chosen this path. Mm-hmm . <affirmative> , <affirmative> . What would you say, like, outta curiosity, with all the people that you talked to, Donna and the , and the seminars that you're doing now, burnout for an educator, right? Like, we're seeing a lot of people leave the industry. Your poll that you did talked about the fact that, you know, maybe up to half of the, the people that were surveyed, or at least thinking about not returning to their role as teachers in early education. Like, is there a recommendation that you would have or something that you've seen to be effective in, in regards to like, Hey, instead of leaving, maybe you're feeling burnt out right now. Is there something that you would suggest or an effective tool to say, Hey, maybe taking a pause if you're feeling burnt out, because is this a temporary thing and we still need you in this industry? Any like practical advice on that, on that area?

Speaker 3:

Well , I , yeah, I really do think that burnout is very real in the field of early childhood. And, and we see it in teachers, we see it in educators , Um, and more so , uh, since the pandemic, because , you know , uh, if anybody's seen , uh, what the nurses were wearing, that's exactly what the early childhood educators were wearing, right? They were wearing visors , they were wearing masks, they were wearing robes, they were wearing gloves and having to do their work with that was just, just a lot, you know? It was just a lot. And you're right. I think pause. I think one of the things that we talk a lot about in this profession, and I don't wanna give too much lip service because I really think it's important, but we're, we're really big on the self care . But I, I do believe that it is important for educators to recognize that, you know, sometimes you do have to take a pause . Sometimes you have to say, Okay, well I know I only have, you know, two weeks vacation, but can I have three and I'll, I'll take the, the cut and pay or whatever , Um, just to be able to take that pause. Because we all know you cannot work with children if your cup is empty. If your cup is empty, this is when you , um, you know, you start to resent being in the field, you start being angry. You're not the best person that you want to be, and you leave. I , I find, and I, I, I saw that sometimes in myself where I kind of went, Okay, well that wasn't a very good day, and how can I make tomorrow a better day? And recognizing that , um, and, and looking at it sort of in an sort of a intentional way. Like, how can I do better? And what's happening here? Oh, I didn't get enough sleep, or I'm still hungry, or, you know, like, like it was just an overall bad day. I need, I need to take a break. I need a few minutes to, to , to walk away, or I need to take, you know, an extra week or this weekend, I'm not gonna do anything. Um, but I also think it has to do a little bit with your attitude. Like every morning you wake up, you have a choice, you make a decision about how you're going to work with those children every single day. That's your choice. You're making that choice. My students ask me that all the time when they see an educator that, you know, may not be doing, you know , best practice or whatever, and I say , Well, every day it's a choice. They wake up and they make the decision on how they're going to act with the children. And , but they also have to recognize what they need for themselves as well.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. That's part of the formula. You're right. And I know, I , I think I read this that you said this somewhere, but it , it , it run true to me. Like at least as teachers approach that day, you said earlier, you know, being grateful and actually choosing to look at the things to be grateful for, but also like when they're in the classroom with students , um, maybe it was some expert who had talked about this, but actually thinking of your students as this is their first day and their last day all once , like, if you walked into the classroom feeling like every single student, this is their first day in the class. Yeah . And or their last day. Like, Yeah, what is the impression that I wanna leave? What's gonna make them be excited about coming back? What's gonna leave, you know, the legacy or the mark, you know, if it's their last day in my class, how do I want them to leave that? And I think that was a good practical tip as far as like how to get the right state of mind. Mm-hmm . When , when teachers

Speaker 3:

Walk in the class , this was their only day. Yeah . In your classroom, what would that day look like? And I think if you think that every single day, not every day in daycare , I dunno , as a daycare educator, I could tell you the Tuesdays and the Wednesdays never look the same. Friday's not the same as Monday . You know, like every day in the classroom is a different day because of dynamics and children and , and all of that stuff. But if you are intention, if you intention is to walk through that classroom with the idea of the looking up. Today's gonna be a good day. I'm gonna have these children watching me. How can I use positive language? How can I, you know, engage with them? And I think one of the things that we have to remember as early childhood educators is that we are working with children. And children are awesome <laugh> . They're amazing to be around. They're hilarious. I can't tell you how many times I have fallen off my little stool because I was laughing so hard at what a child had said. They're open, they're honest, they have a such a sense of wonder about them. And, you know, creativity and imagination. And just to be able to have that , to be around that , for me , I , that was my highlight . I just sitting there listening to their conversations, having conversations with Twitter , you have a conversation with a bunch of four year olds , and I'm telling you, go little , It's a lot of fun.

Speaker 2:

Yeah . Well, you start to realize, like adults, we ruin things. The the older we give , the more we track through life, we start to take everything so serious or we think things differently to a five year old , you're like, Oh man, this is just simple. You're exactly right. That's a great soundbite for us to use the children. Being around children is awesome. Um, we , Donna, if, if people want to find out more about, you know, the work that you're doing and, and if what they're hearing on this, you know , podcast resonates around like, Oh yeah, I need, I need more of that. I need to kind of tap into some of this stuff and these topics that tos talking about. How, how can our audience find you? Like, where are you on social medias or anything like that.

Speaker 3:

Okay. So thank you for asking. I do appreciate that. Um, I do , um, a lot of people have found me through LinkedIn , uh, which is Donna Ski , Uh, you can find me there. S k e a . Um , and then you can also find me, I'm on Facebook. I have the Infinite Educator Facebook page there, and you can also reach me at Donna the infinite educator ca. So that's all one word.

Speaker 2:

Got it. And, and your , the work that you're doing with Infinite Educator right now is focused on, you're , I know you're giving, you know, participating in different seminars and workshops. Are you doing private consulting and those types of things as well? Or are you just waiting to see how opens up?

Speaker 3:

Well, you know, you know what I'm , uh, you know , I'm pretty game for everything. And I have done, in the past, I have actually even gone into daycare centers and, you know, put my, a educator clothes back on and worked in the classroom with educators and dealt with like behavior issues and maybe scheduling issues and, and sort of like boots on the ground. I've talked to educators about what to do about, you know, staffing issues. I've had , uh, workshops with school boards. I've had workshops with , uh, educators, teachers , uh, directors. Uh , I've given a few conferences. So I'm a intimate educator was supposed to be like this. And it's sort of turned into a jack of all trains kinda. And, but I , I love, I love it because it's, it's, I , I have all of this information that I've learned over the last 30 years that I really, really wanna share with people. Um, I'm, I'm really good listener and I really believe that I hear what people want or need and I try my best to provide , uh, daycares with that. And I, and I listen to the director, but I also listen to the educators, which I think is a big thing too, because it is a community, It is part of, everybody needs to work together to , to create this wonderful atmosphere for the children and their families.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And I think you have like, I mean, to your point about how it's kind of taken its own little life of its own, this, this business that you started, I think that's, you know, what happens when you take a step of faith and a door opens up and then, you know, also you have a really, I think, unique perspective on the industry just by, you know, teaching educators for as many years as you have, but also staying current with what's happening inside the four walls of the centers . Um, you know, it's obvious that you've got a passion for it and have a lot to share. So I hope , um, you know, people who are looking for those types of resources will reach out and give you some more connections and , and vice versa. Um, last bonus question, cuz I know I wanna be respectful of your time. Okay . This is completely off topic. It's going back to Montreal, old poor , Somebody listens to this show and they say, Wow, I did not know Quebec was known for so much fun. That's gonna be on my list to visit. Somebody lands in Montreal, they're at the old Port area restaurant recommendation. You're in the old port and you have to experience real Montreal restaurant cuisine in the recommendation that comes to mind.

Speaker 3:

Laal laal . It is a, a hole in the wall. It doesn't even have a sign. Uh , reservations only, but oh my goodness. Will you eat well? And I I could probably name 12 places you gotta go to do beef and you gotta go and have smoke meat and you have to go and have an authentic bagel. And you have, we eat and we party

Speaker 2:

<laugh>. That's a good, that's a good combination. So what, so, but the fact that, that's the one that you mentioned out of all of 'em . So say it one more time and does it, does it have a translation into English?

Speaker 3:

Uh, lak is , uh, the big eat.

Speaker 2:

The big eat that . That is a great way to end the show. And Donna, we really appreciate, it's, it's fun to meet you. Awesome to hear what , Thank you so much there . And , uh, you know , hopefully we can have a round to at some point.

Speaker 3:

That would be great. And appreciate that. Thank you.

Speaker 2:

All right . Take care.

Speaker 1:

Thank you for listening to this episode of the Childcare Business Podcast. To get more insights on ways to succeed in your childcare business, make sure to hit subscribe in your podcast app so you never miss an episode. And if you want even more childcare, business tips, tricks, and strategies, head over to our resource center@procaresoftware.com. Until next time.