In school we were always taught about reflective practice - looking back at what we've done, considering what went well and what didn't, what we could try to make it even better or to address the parts that didn't go as planned, asking more questions and taking different approaches.
Before I got here, I expected my main challenge to be motivating the staff to get excited about their work and finding a way to work in an environment where I was surrounded by a culture unlike my own. When I got here, I quickly learned that the two biggest issues would be 1) to get the building in a state where it is safe for children to spend a day, and 2) actually getting the staff to show up for their shifts. Mind you, the summer is very different from the rest of the year, as most people would easily ditch work for the day/week if the weather was nice and they would rather be out on the land/at the cabin.
The task I thought would be the hardest - finding staff who I could count on to show up for all of their shifts - didn't end up to be the most difficult. It took some time to find them, but for the past 5 weeks that we've been open, the staff have showing up to work with positive attitudes every day and working extremely hard for the children.
What has actually been the greatest challenge is feeling a huge lack of support from some of my "bosses". The centre is run by a society/board of directors, so all of the major decisions concerning the Daycare's spending, policies, etc., must be voted on before the changes can be made. I've been experience a lot of resistance to some of the changes that are necessary to keep the centre open and to improve the program, for no clear reason and without explanation. Without the support from the Board, I am extremely limited in my ability to do my job and to do it well, so I am constantly running in to obstacles. I never thought that those who hired me to come and bring change to the Daycare would be the ones standing most in my way.
It has been really tough, but I can look back and see that I have made some positive changes:
- the building has been renovated, cleaned and set up in a way that promotes exploration and play in a safe way;
- brand new appliances, building and renovation materials were donated;
- a group of ladies who enjoy their work and show up for all of their shifts has been assembled;
- the Daycare passed the inspection, qualifying for a renewed license with very few changes to be made; and,
- a program has been put in place.
I hope this isn't all the change that takes place, but even if it is, I know I can say that I contributed to the improvement of the program.
There is still a lot of work to do, and I still have a lot to learn about managing and working under a Board of Directors, but I feel like we are well on our way.
I am so incredibly thankful to those of you who have been a constant support to me, providing guidance, challenging my perspective, offering ideas, and just being a friend. Thank you for keeping me accountable for the work that I am doing and for helping me reflect on the reasons why I am here and what my capacity is to doing this job. I have and will continue to persevere thanks to you.