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Respectful Evaluations: Connection at the Core
March 1, 2023
Always aim high, work hard, and care deeply about what you believe in. And, when you stumble, keep faith. And, when you're knocked down, get right back up and never listen to anyone who says you can't or shouldn't go on.
-Hillary Clinton, politician and diplomat

When Exchange reader Liana Laughlin asked“How does one go about finding an evaluative tool [for staff and providers] which is respectful of different cultural backgrounds?” several of you focused on relationships and observation:

Judi Kenney shared, “The CHILD Tool, from Yale, has a major focus on relationships. Positive, respectful, supportive relationships benefit children (and adults) regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age, ability, etc...”

Also mentioned was the Program for Infant Toddler Care (PITC) Curriculum, whose website notes, “Unique to the PITC Curriculum is a planning process based on reflection, observation, and documentation of play and learning that respects each child's developing abilities, individual strengths and needs, family culture(s), and language(s).”

Anne Bauer remarked, “We have been engaged in an evaluation of our program through the lens of how to dismantle the white supremacy characteristics outlined in White Supremacy Culture, by Tema Okun (dRworks). [This] helps us to be more inclusive of all the marginalized perspectives in our school community.”

Chellie Sebald, a preschool teacher in Minneapolis, MN, wrote in part:

We need to:

  • ensure our diverse workforce has access to affinity groups serving children in the same capacity to build upon their own strengths and values in raising children, to share resources, and to collaborate.
  • build networks of connection for all of us to share what is possible and good and to weed out what is harmful (e.g. too much media during care hours).
  • refocus our energy on looking for a system that assumes responsibility for the health and over-all wellbeing of children rather than their “academic” readiness.
  • pull in partners to analyze what young children are learning in diverse environments using observation and storytelling as our tools. This means we must train educators and researchers to look into activities of care and culture (festivals, communities, etc.) for content of learning, rather than telling everyone what content of learning has to show up and in what form.
  • trust kindergarten and first grade teachers to teach children ages 5-7 the language of literacy and numeracy and allow children ages 0-5 to thrive in sensory rich (foundations of scientific minds), language-rich, music-rich, care-rich, compassion-rich, socially dynamic environments that are staffed by people who are highly valued for what they provide and do, in many unmeasurable ways.
  • And if we really want all children to be “advanced” in intellect, then we better start offering livable wages to those assisting in care.

We appreciate all who joined this thoughtful exchange of ideas!


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