"What you are planning
to do tomorrow, do today; what you are going to do today, do right now." Indian
THE VALUE OF BEING VALUED
When we write and speak to those outside our profession, we often wax poetic about
the extreme importance of early childhood education. However, in our daily work
we tend to take the importance of our accomplishments for granted. Parents appreciate
the great work their teachers do, but do they ever express this appreciation to
the teachers? Family child care providers dedicate their lives to their work,
but who notices their contributions? Center administrators perform miracles keeping
their programs afloat, but who ever comments on their work? Early childhood professors
and trainers work with commitment and creativity, but who thanks them?
In How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work (San Francisco:
Jossey-Bass, 2001; www.josseybass.com), Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey remind
us of the importance of valuing our work:
"We all do better at work if we regularly have the experience that what we
do matters, that it is valuable, and that our presence makes a difference to others.
We may know in our hearts that what we do matters, but it is certainly confirming
to hear the words from others. We do not, after all, work and live in a vacuum.
Believing that what we do and how we do it makes a difference can also lead us
to take additional care in performing our work.
"Perhaps more important, hearing that our work is valued by others can confirm
for us that we matter as a person. It connects us to other people. This is no
small matter in organizations where the pace and intensity of work can lead a
person to feel isolated. This sense that we signify may be one of our deepest
hungers. One way we experience that what we are doing at work is valuable is by
hearing regularly from others how they value what we do."
For additional thoughts on motivating staff, check out the Exchange book, Staff
Challenges at www.ChildCareExchange.com.