Another year gone by…
And what a year it has been! As with most aspects of life as we knew it, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic required the Strive team to continue to shift and adapt in our known and familiar ways of engaging in our work, namely virtual professional learning. While not without its hiccups, we have been so pleasantly surprised by the different ways online platforms have allowed us to grow as a professional learning community.
From small, intimate Communities of Practice, to multi-evening series, to community meetings, to our fist every virtual Winter Rethink where we welcomed over 200 fellow early learning professionals on the screen with us, it has been a real gift getting to stretch in our practices and connect and engage together in new ways.
As I am sure many of you can relate to, this year also had us taking stock in the many, significant imbalances that exist in our social systems both historically and contemporarily. A big focus of our work has therefore prioritized continuing to confront and challenge the ways those imbalances and inequities show up within Early Childhood Education and Care.
We are so very grateful to those who have stepped in to help guide our learning, those who have shown us grace when we stumbled, and those who have joined us and shown incredible humility and vulnerability in confronting hard truths and acknowledging where we still have work to do.
We look forward to continuing to disrupt those inherited practices and inequitable ways of knowing and being that ultimately interfere with our ability to make spaces for children, families, and professionals as safe, just, inclusive and welcoming as possible.
The virtual orientation of the pandemic made our world feel a whole lot smaller, allowing us to connect with facilitators from far and wide across Ontario, Canada and internationally as well. However, it has been the local collaborations we have engaged in that really stand out.
We have had the distinct privilege of partnering with LUSO Community Services, Anova, Family Centres London, The London Homeless Coalition, All Kids Belong, the Culturally Safe Spaces Committee, The Middlesex-London Health Unit, The Licensed Child Care Network, Childreach, Fanshawe College, The Child and Youth Network, Thames Valley Children’s Centre, The London InterCommunity Health Centre, Atlohsa, and CMHA Middlesex just to name a few.
These collaborations stand out namely because they speak of the immeasurable strength of community and immense professional expertise and knowledge that exists here in London, Middlesex, and Elgin.
None of the success we experienced this year happened in a vacuum.
We could not have done any of it without the support and guidance of our Advisory Committee, Professional Learning Committees, Childreach, and the ever supportive Child Care and Early Years teams with the city of London, County of Middlesex, and Elgin County. We are so grateful.
Throughout it all, the ups and the downs, the surprises, the joys, the challenges, the one constant has been YOU. The child care and early years community. Our most heartfelt thanks for numerous ways you show up alongside us and support us. Your dedication is remarkable.
This year we have welcomed over 2,500 early years professionals at over 70 learning opportunities. You put your trust in us to help you realize your professional learning goals and we don’t take that for granted.
We are already hard at work planning for a new year of exciting opportunities for learning, growth, reflection and community in 2022. Not to mention, our biggest and most beloved annual tradition, Winter Rethink!
Certainly our biggest wish for the coming year is a return to in-person learning opportunities (oh how we long to see your smiling faces beyond the breakout room!). With vaccination rates ever on the rise, we feel a palpable sense of hope that we may soon see that realized.
We know another year of Covid-19 protocols and restrictions, social distancing, sanitizing, masks, goggles, etc. has not been easy and we hope you continue to feel immense pride in the ways you have shown up, and continue to show up, for children and families in our community.
You are SO ESSENTIAL. You are SO APPRECIATED.
Thank you for continuing to join us in Leading Inspired Learning. We look forward to connecting again in 2022!
Wishing you a happy, healthy, and peaceful holiday season,
What are you reflecting on as we leave this year behind? Leave us a comment below!