New Year Resolutions for Early Childhood Educators

By: Diane Kashin, Ed.D, RECE.  

Looking back on a long career as an early childhood educator, I can confidently say that professional friendships are my greatest accomplishments. I have benefited more from these relationships than any title I have had, or credential that I have earned. My belief in the value of professional friendships is so strong that I wrote a soon to be published book called, Cultivating Professional Friendships in Early Childhood Education! The book explores the concept of professional friendship influenced by the concept of critical friendship. Educational consultants, Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick introduced the theory of critical friendship in 1993. A critical friendship is a complex relationship between two colleagues. The term professional friendship was intentionally chosen as a more ECE-friendly alternative. What I learned from writing the book was this – to be a true professional friend, it is necessary to be self-aware. It begins with you. What makes you, you? This includes your gender, age, race, roles, family, and life experiences.

  • What is important to you at your core?
  • What touches your heart and activates your brain?
  • What are your values and beliefs?
  • Who has influenced you, and why?

You already have the qualities that will make you a good friend to another early childhood educator. You are who you are meant to be—a loving and caring person who supports children, their families, and your colleagues. In this new year, go forward and be self-aware. This is my new year’s resolution. In 2023, I am resolved to be resolute. A resolution is a firm decision to do or not to do something. It is an intentional decision that is aspirational. It is like a pledge or a promise. Resolution is also the quality of being determined or resolute which is to be admirably purposeful and unwavering.

This year I resolve to be more self-aware and to be more friendly. Ten years ago, I was granted a sabbatical to explore the potential of social media as a professional learning tool for ECEs. I went from a complete novice to a daily user. I followed and built a following within a sector that is part of my identity. I found and connected with inspirational early childhood educators, thought leaders and influencers from all around the world. I set up Facebook groups and had multiple pages. I ended up with thousands of friends. Some transcended from a social media friend to a true professional friend. On social media platforms, you are in a friendship when your two accounts are linked together. Social media friends are not automatically real-life friends, as being a friend is more of a verb than a passive act. To be a friend is to act as a friend, in a reciprocal fashion. It is a trusting and loving relationship.

During my decade long experience with social media, I would go from being the ultimate sharer to holding back and not sharing who I was at my core. My profile photos depicted sunsets and beaches but never my own image. Everything changed in 2022, when one of the pages that I managed was hacked and I ended up losing everything. I had to start all over again. This time, I am going to resolutely face my inner child and critic and become self-aware as the first step to be the best professional friend I can be. I have always doubted myself. I often feel like a fraud. Have you ever felt like an imposter? Knowing this about yourself is important because it impacts your practice and professional relationships. I am now ready to share an image of me! Here is my new profile picture. This is me two years of hair regrowth post cancer complete with wrinkles and imperfections. I accept who I am. I can look at me!

I know it is not uncommon to question memories, experiences, and knowledge instead of trusting ourselves. This is self-doubt and you may doubt yourself more than others do. If you have difficulty trusting yourself, you may be living in a state of doubt where it is easier to believe in others than in yourself. This year, I am resolutely going to cultivate self-awareness and foster self-trust. How about you? When you accept your feelings and work toward understanding them better, you will be more able to trust. The persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud is often associated with higher rates of burnout, job dissatisfaction, and stagnancy. We don’t want that in 2023! Professional friends who share their fears about their job success, have an important sounding board and ally. According to Flora (2016), the term is actually a misnomer as it’s not a syndrome. There’s no disorder, no diagnosis, no cure. A more accurate term would be imposter phenomenon. Some very successful people experience feelings of not being worthy of praise or their success. It is often associated with overachievement and perfectionism. If you can relate to the feeling of being a fraud, know that you are in good company. Know that the key to coping with imposter syndrome is communication. Share with your professional friends. You and your friends may be relieved to find out that you are not alone. Author Lindsay Kolowich Cox (2020) offers these nine strategies to cope with imposter syndrome:

I am sharing my feelings with you, not because we are actually friends but because it is a friendly way to be. Being friendly is a component of professional friendships. If someone is friendly, they behave in a pleasant, kind way, and like to be with others. Being friendly has not always been easy for me and upon reflection, I see that my past inability to act in this way related to a lack of self-compassion and the ever-present imposter syndrome. I avoided eye contact and lacked the confidence to smile. I held back. I wish I had smiled more in the past. Reflecting on past relationships has helped me to recognize ways that I can improve and give back. Going forward, I can and will be more friendly. I can give the gift of a smile more often, as a friendly gesture. I can also thank others for friendship and learning. I can appreciate the readers of this blog, as friends and potential friends. In this, I can be resolute. Finally, between friends, please find me on Facebook and like my new Facebook page, Professional Friendships in Early Childhood Education. All the best for the new year. May it bring you joy and friendship.

4 thoughts on “New Year Resolutions for Early Childhood Educators

  1. Dear Diane,
    Thank you very much for sharing your journey with your readers. I enjoy reading your blogs and always look forward to the next one.
    I have been a kindergarten teacher myself for 30 years. I was off work for the past year and a half due to my cancer journey. I look forward to returning to work in three weeks.
    I have kept my hair grey and have been able to carry it on with grace. My recovery has given me a different kind of wings.


  2. Professional friendships have been so important to my professional growth. Thank you, Diane for sharing so many resources…truly inspirational!


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