Interview with Stephanie Walker

I'm so inspired by the voices that I see emerging in the world of ECE, Stephanie is one of those voices I came across on social media. I'm so inspired by the work that she is doing individually and collectively. Stephanie is an RECE based in the York Region. She has a B.A. in Early Childhood Studies with plans to complete her Masters. She's been working in the field for 5 years. R: What motivated you to get into ECE? S: It started with loving working with children and lead to wanting to make a difference in the world. The best way to do that is with children. We all have things we don't personally like about how we grew up. It's the best way to provide an opportunity for the younger ones who have different stressors than we did. My motivation is to make a change in some sort of way. R: What is your "Why?" S: I think there is a lot of things that work really well and there are a lot of things that need a little bit of help including having compassion and empathy. We need to slow down and not put so much stress on people to be something they're not-fitting into a box they don't fit into. Working with young ones and creating the foundation of learning to respect themselves at such a young age can really help them later on. I come from the background of a single-parent family and that's the one thing I remember is that I always felt I had to prove myself more. I still see it today with some children, they feel they have to prove themselves. I want to be there for them and help them to know that they don't. And hopefully changing the mindsets of those involved so they see the difference- it has a trickle-down effect. R: Can you share some of the challenges you've faced entering the field? S: The disconnect between going from school to being out in the field- it's very different than what they've explained in school. It's kind of like a big slap in the face. I worked in lab schools, so my standards were high and I had to change and adapt to fit an environment I wasn't used to. It was a really big challenge. I actually left the field for a few months and wasn't sure if I wanted to continue in this. I want to set a better standard than this.

R: How did you overcome those challenges? S: The thing that helped me the most were the parent relationships I built. Those have lasted a long time and they're still building. I was working in retail and had a family visit me to show their appreciation. Seeing them after taking some time to myself was one of the breaking points that told me- Yes, this is what I need to do. I've become more confident in my skills which is helpful because if I know myself, I don't feel I need to prove myself. Building relationships was hard, especially when the staff I worked alongside had such close relationships but I just kept putting myself out there and showing them this is early childhood education. Even the simple act of setting up different activities was something parents noticed. I am very much about program planning and parents really appreciated that. It's important to find a flow of what you want to bring to the centre - it will shine through. R: Do you have any advice for educators in the field? S: Be co-learners with each other. Value what each other has to bring. It's a give and take of allowing new ideas to emerge and find a balance of compromise. For new educators, don't be afraid of what they believe in. Make sure you stand up for yourself and stand your ground. R: Do you have any closing thoughts? S: We often feel alone in this field- which is crazy because we work alongside people all the time. The biggest message is that we're not alone- there's someone else who has gone through too. If we can open up and share with each other we can make a lot happen. Stephanie has a youtube channel where she talks about her experiences as an educator and can be found on Instagram as stephanie_ece. Stephanie is also part of a podcast project called The Childcare Revolution with colleagues Patricia and Tegan discussing all things childcare that can be found on Instagram as childcarerevolutionpod

Go check her out!

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