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Examples of Conflicts in Early Childhood Settings

  • 1.  Examples of Conflicts in Early Childhood Settings

    Posted 03-20-2019 10:43 AM
    Hi there!

    My colleague, Christine Keena Snyder, and I have been presenting workshops on conflict in early childhood settings for several years, including sessions at both NAEYC national conferences, the HighScope conference, Zero to Three, and more. We're interested in gathering some fresh examples of how conflicts play out in our workplaces: between colleagues, especially, but also between faculty and parents and between teachers and children.

    Can you share some examples with us? Let us know what happened/s and any reflections you have. Please do keep them anonymous, of course, not using people's names and other specifics. That said, details are often the most important part, so if they're relevant please do share 'em!

    Thank you in advance!

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    Chris Amirault
    School Director, Tulsa Educare
    Member, Affiliate Advisory Council
    Tulsa OK
    camirault@naeyc.org
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  • 2.  RE: Examples of Conflicts in Early Childhood Settings

    Posted 03-21-2019 08:38 AM
    How would you handle this incident?

    With two educators in a classroom of 17 four year olds, one educator informs the other that she's going to take a 15 minute break away from the classroom during individual choice time. Prior to leaving the classroom, the educator failed to inform the other educator that she had allowed two children, a boy and girl to take markers and paper into the loft area to work on their stories of the day.

    Over the last last few weeks, both teachers had a desire to rearrange the loft area. Both agreed to make the loft more cozy for the children, yet the rearrangement made the entire loft area less visible from the main floor of the classroom.

    During the educator's 15 minute break, two children were missing from the classroom  headcount.  The present classroom educator presumed that the children were still in the classroom because the alert that notifies the educators when someone comes and goes into the classroom,  had not motioned.

    Upon the other educator's return to the classroom after her break, it was noted that the two children were actually still in the loft. The children had taken off their bottom clothing, including underwear and had drawn on one another's genitalia. The two educators began blaming one another for the incident in the presence of all the children in the classroom.

    Within the coming weeks, the children's parents had dis enrolled their children, there was an investigation conducted by the State Licensing, and the school administration had placed both teachers on leave during the investigation.

    Years later, the educator who had gone on a break, is still working in the field of early childhood education and the other is now a registered nurse.

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    Crystal Darlene Sanford-Brown
    Early Childhood Consultant
    Ashance Associates
    Bloomfld Hls MI
    Member of the Naeyc Governing Board; Vice-President
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  • 3.  RE: Examples of Conflicts in Early Childhood Settings

    Posted 03-21-2019 10:12 AM
    Thanks, Crystal! I appreciate the suggested example!

    Here's my quick two cents: In every early childhood environment within and with which I've worked, the incident would have been reported immediately to licensing (and NAEYC if accredited). Meanwhile, HR would have put both employees on admin leave for a full investigation. There's no way to predict the outcome of that, but if those employees were to return, they would do so within an explicit, zero-tolerance performance improvement plan to address a number of issues (ratio, sight-line in classrooms, teamwork and communication, active supervision... it's a long list!).

    In addition, the appropriate program administrator (school director or executive director, depending on the arrangement) would have reached out immediately to the parents of all involved children to hear and understand their perspectives and to determine a clear communications plan that's as transparent as HR policies allow. The program has to own this problem, and not point fingers at "bad eggs" -- that's a strategy for destroying family trust!

    Finally, we would have developed a long-term team communication training process for everyone involved in that room/suite, given that these issues seem to extend far beyond this one incident. A lot of work to do....

    Hope that is useful!

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    Chris Amirault
    School Director, Tulsa Educare
    Member, Affiliate Advisory Council
    Tulsa OK
    camirault@naeyc.org
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Examples of Conflicts in Early Childhood Settings

    Posted 03-21-2019 10:44 AM
    Chris
    Thanks for that great advice on ALL accounts of responsibility. This unfortunate incident was shared with me by a nurse of one of my current physicians once she learned of my passion for advocating on the behalf of quality early childhood educational programs and environments.

    I have more ethical accounts if you'd like for me to share to provide examples of "what NOT" to do for readers of this platform.

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    Crystal Darlene Sanford-Brown
    Early Childhood Consultant
    Ashance Associates
    Bloomfld Hls MI
    Member of the Naeyc Governing Board; Vice-President
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  • 5.  RE: Examples of Conflicts in Early Childhood Settings

    Posted 03-21-2019 11:44 AM
    Crystal, feel free to bring 'em! :)

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    Chris Amirault
    School Director, Tulsa Educare
    Member, Affiliate Advisory Council
    Tulsa OK
    camirault@naeyc.org
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Examples of Conflicts in Early Childhood Settings

    Posted 03-21-2019 01:59 PM
    I am in the field of Early Childhood Special Ed.  I would say our biggest conflict is trying to tell parents that their child has a disability.  It is not easy for a parent to hear and some become upset with us and refuse to believe.  We work hard to at being compassionate and understanding, but sometimes parents walk away.  Some parents refuse to allow us to provide early intervention services to help their child.  It is sad.


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    Melissa Meyer
    Early Childhood Special Education
    Jackson MS Public Schools
    Jackson MS
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  • 7.  RE: Examples of Conflicts in Early Childhood Settings

    Posted 03-21-2019 04:54 PM
    Hi Melissa,

    Yes, that is a classic challenge. How do you go about initiating and supporting those difficult conversations?

    Chris

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    Chris Amirault
    School Director, Tulsa Educare
    Member, Affiliate Advisory Council
    Tulsa OK
    camirault@naeyc.org
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Examples of Conflicts in Early Childhood Settings

    Posted 03-22-2019 11:44 AM
    I rely a lot on data and research.  Typically, I first point out that Exceptional Education is not the Special Education of the past.  We do not believe in sticking kids in the resource room and leaving them there.  A lot of parents have a bad impression of Exceptional Education because in the past, EE students were isolated and did not interact with a lot of their typically developing peers.

    Then, I move on to research.  I explain how all the research shows that early intervention in the key to success later in life.  I point out that children who get the services and education they need when they are young - younger the better - are more likely to graduate from high school with a general diploma.

    Finally, I use data from our own program.  Children who attend the "special ed, self contained" preschool classrooms we have, typically end up in general education kindergartens.  We have a 90% or higher level of graduating our "sped babies" to general education kindergarten.

    We also have the parents come see a classroom.  Our SpEd Classrooms have smaller class sizes ( no more than 14 allowed, typically under 10) and at least 2 adults.  1 of which is state licensed early childhood teacher with a special education endorsement.  The other has to have at least 18 hours of early childhood education training.

    Usually once parents hear all the data, and go and see the classroom, they are ready to "try" it.  Very seldom do parents pull their children after being enrolled.  We have such great teachers that our parents end up loving everything about it.


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    Melissa Meyer
    Early Childhood Special Education
    Jackson MS Public Schools
    Jackson MS
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  • 9.  RE: Examples of Conflicts in Early Childhood Settings

    Posted 03-21-2019 06:45 PM
    Many years ago I did my Master's project on conflict and conflict resolution between early childhood educators.  Early childhood teaching is very different from other professions.  We do things with children's bodies--clean them, cuddle them, support them, move with them.  We sit and lay down the floor with children and with our co-teachers.  It's based on relationships (If you're doing it right). There aren't many jobs with that kind of intimacy.  Because of that It brings out our best and our most difficult sides.  That level of 'personal-ness' can breed conflict. Of course, there are many other reasons for conflict: the passion that we bring to the work, conflicting ideas about appropriate practice, cultural and political differences, etc.  I know this isn't the examples you're looking for, but wanted to share my perspective.

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    Aren Stone
    Child Development Specialist
    The Early Years Project
    Cambridge, MA
    she/her
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