Wrap Them Up in a Magic Blanket and LEAD Them to More
We had a fabulous team workship at Cocorico a few weeks ago - everyone was eloquently describing how they felt bringing their language to preschoolers, how it helped them bridge the two versions of themselves and their experiences (ie. Their native country and culture and their adopted country and culture of Australia), and how they were inspired by the role they had in opening doors for children through their language and experiences.
Then they brought something up that I wasn't expecting . . . They were wondering why I had chosen the term, "Language Leaders" to describe their role at Cocorico.
It became a surprising and interesting conversation about the interpretation, image and role of a Leader.
What they were saying is that the position of leader in French had somewhat of a negative connotation, in the sense that it created a hierarchy, and the supposed leader at the top tended to have the image of a bossy, controlling character who was essentially disengaged with their "staff" and generally unapproachable.
Whooaaahhh there, everybody! A true Leader bears no resemblance to this style of dictatorial position.
Mais non, mais non!
Au contraire . . . A true leader brings people together, creates a united movement, leads by example and is COMPLETELY engaged with and empathetic to their team (the pivotal word here being TEAM - ie. A group of people with a common goal who work TOGETHER with an attitude of encouragement and community, devoid of competition). The Leader of that group would be the visionary, bringing ideas and passion to a projected outcome and empowering all within the community with confidence, strength and support, allowing them to create projects that move them all towards said outcome with as much ease as possible, overcoming obstacles with innovation and creative thinking, moving everyone to a wonderful feeling of support, inclusiveness and satisfaction.
So how can you apply this wonderful role of leadership to your efforts bringing Your Language to preschoolers?
Well, it certainly is an exciting role that you play. With your own individual charm and magic, you can lead the children into worlds and experiences with a sense of intrigue and adventure, adding humour into the mix to create an ambiance of discovery that really hits the mark! You create an environment that develops confidence, openness and a willingness to connect in our multi-national society, and you do it not through lectures, boring repetition and tedium, but in such a way that the children don't even realise that they're learning; they are simply experiencing, which is endlessly more enjoyable AND effective.
And THAT is the essence of LEADING. We want to touch something inside, wrap them up in a magic blanket and LEAD them to more.
There is another sense in which you can consider yourself a leader . . .
Have you ever contemplated the possibility that your second language and culture place you very delicately, but quite decidedly, in the position of being a potential leader in the childcare space? That rather than always trying to fit in, you have a magnificent opportunity to STAND OUT and become a leader in your sphere!
You are worth so much more than you realise.
The fact that you are engaging in a movement of bringing languages and all the attendant benefits, experiences and branches of learning to toddlers and preschoolers in their childcare/preschool lives in a way that has never been done before - at least not here in Australia - puts you in a leading role.
While hello, welcome and the occasional foreign language songs have been sprinkled throughout services, and some centres have a beautiful focus on flags and maps and cultural activities, together we are really taking it to the next level, tapping into the vast resources of the bilingual educators that have been heretofore essentially ignored, and growing them into expansive, intentional opportunities that enhance not only the lives of the children, but also the lives of the bilingual educators themselves, all while enhancing the appeal of the childcare centre.
It's a WIN for everyone, and in that sense, yes, we are LEADING a movement. Not dictating, not being all bossy and controlling and disengaged, but in the true sense of encouraging and supporting and providing a sense of community.
Leading an inspired group of bilingual educators to create a special sort of magic that comes from embracing the charm of two cultures, the heart of shared experiences, and the delight of enchanting a new generation with exotic-sounding words and adventures.
Leading children to feel confident, to express, to dream, to innovate . . . To create, to lead, to shake up the world!
It's amazing what languages can do!
À la prochaine (Until next time),