A Moment with Dr. Moore

November 19, 2020

A Silver Lining to Somber Times

Hope is contagious, and it can encourage positive change. You spread it by passing on your own sense of faith in the future. You remind people that they have both the motivation and the means to pursue a goal. And you support those in need by showing how much you care. I care about you—all the members of our early childhood community—so I want to share my belief that better days are in store. And there are solid reasons for us to have hope, hold on and keep pushing ahead.

Granted, the pandemic poses problems that have tested our early childhood settings. Class sizes are smaller, and resources are slimmer. Taxing new rules change the tone of daily routines. Still, the greatest predictor of students’ achievements is the quality of their teachers. Educators need the right training, and those who have earned their CDA® are well equipped to keep supporting young learners in the best possible way. They know how to communicate with a mask on, encourage students to find unique ways to share their feelings, and turn some of the new mandates for social distancing and sanitation into fun, amusing games.

Our educators are up to the challenges because they know how to turn tragedy into triumph. I thought of their power to surmount obstacles and ordeals when the Council recently heard from an educator in Missouri. Heather Dunn used grief as a gateway into education after her much-loved, little nephew suffered an untimely death. Looking for a way to heal her heart, she decided to become a preschool teacher and earn her CDA. She now works to keep other families from going through similar trials by helping her students stay happy, healthy and safe.

Heather’s center is open, after the COVID-19 lockdown, and there’s now scientific proof that the children who go there really are secure from the onslaught of the virus. A recent study from Yale University surveyed 57,000 child care providers and found there was no “heightened risk” of coronavirus transmission if centers followed safety practices. This leads me to believe, more than ever, that there is hope on the horizon. It’s also a bright spot for us since early childhood teachers have been called on to fill a vital role in recent months by allowing parents to resume their jobs.

And that, too, may be a silver lining to these somber times. The pandemic has focused attention on our early childhood teachers—the long-unsung heroes who keep our communities and our economy running. As more people recognize the essential role that early educators and centers play, we will have stronger grounds for demanding more investment in our sector.

Looking ahead to the future, we must realize that the “new normal” may give way to a “next normal” in which technology plays a greater role. That new model may extend to more virtual and hybrid learning environments. There may be even more use of iPads and Zoom meetings—but it will be our early childhood teachers who will have to show families and children the way.

I’m convinced we can face the coming challenges by working together. And by doing so, we can succeed in turning our scars into stars. We need to have the “audacity of hope,” as former President Barack Obama once urged us. As we reached the end of the recent election season, I was reminded of his stirring call to action: “The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”

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