We are thrilled to introduce you to our newest team member, Breanna Piccolotto. Bre is joining Strive as the Project Associate, so she will be a key community contact, working closely with participants and facilitators alike.
We asked Bre some questions about herself, to get to know her a little better. Keep reading to see what she said!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi. My name is Breanna or Bre, the new Strive Project Associate. I am a recent Fanshawe ECE graduate and I am beyond excited to be an officially Registered Early Childhood Educator. My educational background is in psychology with a minor in statistics. My primary area of interest during my undergraduate studies was social psychology. Looking at the ways people interact and how those interactions come to affect the individual’s brain and personality. This is what initially piqued my interest in Early Childhood Education because it is not only about the impact an Educator can have on a child but it is also the impact a child can have on an Educator. I’m fascinated with how the relationships we develop with children alter the ways that we think, problem solve, manage stress and all kinds of other really interesting changes to our individual responses.
I am originally from Toronto but I grew up in Guelph. Excited to be moving to London soon!
I was an athlete when I was younger. My main sport was wrestling. I was even positioned to join the Canadian Olympic team but unfortunately, I suffered an injury and was unable to continue.
I have two younger brothers who are my inspiration for becoming an Early Childhood Educator. And I have two adorable cats!
What is something you’ve learned recently that you’re excited about?
I’ve been really active on social media recently. With the Covid shut down, it has become a much larger part of my life than it was before. So I’ve been really taking some time to learn from other Educators through their social media platforms. Something that I’ve become really interested in are conversations around professionalism and the imbalances that exist in how professionalism is typically defined or characterized. How the ideals of professionalism have negative impacts for women and people from racialized or marginalized communities. I’ve been reflecting on how my own experiences in positions of leadership have been impacted by imbalanced and idealized professionalism. How it has affected my role as a leader and how I interact with others. It’s been a really fun and educational experience for me. Very revealing. I’m learning to re-define what professionalism means to me and how those standards impact different people based on the position they are in.
What is something you’re unlearning?
I am a pretty sensitive person and one thing that I have realized is that I am quick to apologize. So something I am unlearning is how to stop apologizing for things that I don’t need to apologize for and, instead, reframing it in an expression of gratitude or appreciation. For example, I was meeting a friend and I was running a few minutes late and instead of saying “oh I’m so sorry for being late” I said, “thank you so much for waiting for me.” And just that slight change in how I expressed my feelings around that situation completely changed the interaction I had with my friend. Instead of immediately focusing on a negative, it changed it into something positive.
What is the biggest misconception about Early Childhood Education you would like to see debunked?
Well, I think there’s a ton, but the biggest myth I see is that Early Childhood Educators are not professionals and that it is an easy job. I started in the field with zero experience working with children. I had done a little bit of coaching but that was mainly with youth and older children and the only experience I had working in education prior to coming into the field was with young adults. So I stepped into a toddler classroom for the very first time and was instantly overwhelmed. There was so much going on and I quickly learned that there are so many nuances in terms of how you interact and build relationships with children and families. It is not easy! This work requires so much training, expertise, and experience and I really feel that a lot of people are completely unaware of that.
I think our government in particular fails to see the Early Childhood Educator as skilled professional and that unfortunately results in a lack of needed support, respect and recognition.
What advice would you give someone considering pursuing a career in Early Childhood Education?
Take opportunities to work with different age groups. One of the most challenging things for me when I first started, because I wasn’t as experienced as some of my fellow Educators, was that I felt very uncomfortable in new environments. I got into a groove with the toddlers and the idea of stepping outside of that was very intimidating. But working across different age groups gives you a lot of great new perspectives on joys and challenges within the field that you might not have considered before. There’s so many wonderful moments that you can have with children in different age groups based purely on the age and stage that they’re at. What makes infants unique is very different from what makes toddlers unique and so on, so I think it is important to seek out those opportunities and experiences when you can. I think a certain level of understanding between you and your fellow Educators can be achieved as well when you take the time to experience or understand what their specific age group is like. So don’t be afraid to embrace new experiences outside your comfort zone.
How has professional learning contributed to your practice?
Having entered the field initially with no previous experience working with young children or education in Early Childhood, there was a massive learning curve for me. Without professional learning opportunities, I don’t think I would have been able to be a successful Educator.
One of the first professional learning opportunities that I engaged in was a course about resiliency. It looked at resiliency in adults and how that could be translated to working with children. What I found that it gave me, and what I think all professional learning gives us the opportunity to do, is step back and step out of practice to reflect.
At the time, I was a new Educator, in a really busy room and I was still feeling fairly overwhelmed and feeling very unsure of myself and this really helped me take that step back and reframe what was going on in myself and in the environment in a way that ultimately helped me be a better Educator.
Do you have a favourite quote?
I do! One of my favourite theorists in psychology is Carl Jung. A lot of his philosophy was about achieving balance in life and I really appreciate that.
So one of my favourite quotes of his is,
“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness. And the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they come with patience and equanimity.”
That’s something I try very hard to practice and keep top of mind in my own life.
If you were an ice cream flavor, what flavour would you be and why?
Something I learned during the pandemic is that I am lactose intolerant so it would have to be something dairy-free. So maybe lemon sorbet? Because it’s sweet but also a little tangy and that’s like me!
Welcome, Bre! We are so excited to work with you!