Written by: Dr. Valor Washington
Leadership in our field today is about change and, as leaders, we are the change makers.
In the decades of my work designing leadership tools for the early childhood education field, I have engaged in intimate, in-depth discussions with hundreds of early educators as they define their dreams, hopes and fears about change.
In order to move forward, we as a profession will need to be a more strongly organized, effective field of practice. The field as a whole must act with greater urgency to better define our purpose and responsibilities. But while many of us hear and concur with these calls to action, some of us feel paralyzed. To the individual staff member, the job ahead might seem too big to take the first steps.
At the Association for Early Learning Leaders’ 31st Annual National Conference, How Successful Directors Lead, my keynote address highlights lessons learned about leadership, about mobilizing early educators to influence the direction of change, and about the educators themselves becoming architects of change. Supporting our staff and our profession will require strategies like building our sense of community, and sharing and learning from the experiences, wisdom and approaches used by early educators like you, and creating safe places where we can:
o Question our assumptions
o Engage in collegial dialog, nudging each other out of our comfort zones
o Facilitate constructive, active learning that stimulates innovation
o Identify options
o Take action
You and me—ordinary people—can and must participate directly in creating positive social change for our children and for ourselves as ECE professionals. What we know for sure is that leading for change is a journey, a marathon—not an event or a sprint. We know that neither leadership nor change happen by chance—but by our willingness and strength.
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About Dr. Valora Washington
Dr. Valora Washington is the CEO of the Council for Professional Recognition
. Throughout her career Dr. Washington has co-created several institutions, such as Michigan’s Children, a statewide advocacy group, the Early Childhood Funders Collaborative, and The CAYL Institute. Frequently tapped for senior-level service, she has been Co-Chair of the Massachusetts Governor’s School Readiness Commission; Board Chair for Voices for America’s Children; Secretary of NAEYC; chair of the Black Caucus of the Society for Research in Child Development; Co-Chair of the National Head Start Association Commission on 2010; and a member of numerous task forces and boards including of the Boston Children’s Museum and Wheelock College.