Mary Gordon provides a workshop on Bullying and Teasing in the Early Years in Niagara

date 29 November 2015

Mary Gordon provides a workshop on Bullying and Teasing in the Early Years in Niagara  
Zach Dadson

Mary Gordon was at Niagara College on Tuesday October 26, 2015 to discuss the difference between bullying behaviour and developmentally appropriate teasing.

Gordon founded the Roots of Empathy program in 1996, and later the Seeds of Empathy program. Both of these programs are dedicated to promoting emotional literacy and empathy among young children. Mary is a leading expert in the field and over 100 members of Niagara’s early learning community attended the workshop. Gordon also held an evening workshop for families on the same subject.

When asked about how this event came together, Sandy Toth (Co-Chair of the Niagara Children’s Planning Council’s Children are Safe Pillar Committee) said “the idea to bring resources and knowledge around bullying and teasing was a result of a discussion around the Children are Safe Pillar Committee table in regards to how educators felt with their knowledge, confidence and ability to identify and respond to bullying and teasing in the early years. From here the literature was examined that highlighted that personal experience, relationships and quality of training and education can impact ones abilities and responses. An online survey was developed with the purpose of demonstrating how educators in Niagara identify and respond to bullying and teasing in the early years and how comfortable they are responding to parents.”

For Susan Dayboll (Ontario Early Years Centres – Erie Lincoln) the training session was a welcomed opportunity “I love Mary Gordon! I’m an instructor for the Roots of Empathy program and I thought it’d be a great opportunity to hear her speak”.

“I thought I knew more than I did, so it’s great because now I can identify the difference between bullying and teasing.” Dayboll said.

The Children are Safe Pillar Committee originally contact Mary Gordon with the hopes of working together on another initiative.

“It was Mary herself that offered to come to Niagara to do a workshop on whatever we would like her to discuss. How gracious is that!? Mary did indicate that she actually doesn’t do workshops anymore, in fact, hasn’t done one in about five years, however she was passionate about coming to Niagara to do this one! She is impressed with how advanced Niagara is in their work with families and how well the community collaborates with each other” Sandy Toth explained.

The Niagara Children’s Planning Council, a collection of over 30 agencies who provide programming and support for Niagara’s early learning community, plays a large role in the collaboration Gordon referenced.

“I think it’s important to keep current on all the new learning techniques and methodology that takes place and just be on top of what you’re doing all the time” said Christine Levre (Niagara Region) when asked about her attendance at the workshop.

“I found that it would be a most interesting workshop for me to come to and to learn about the differences between bullying and teasing, which I learned a lot about today” Levre continued.

“Mary Gordon is recognized internationally and such a dynamic speaker that people want to hear her speak. Niagara has had Roots of Empathy/Seeds of Empathy for many years and Niagara is supportive of the program. I believe Registered Early Childhood Educators in Niagara strive to do the best job they can to support the families that come to their programs” Sandy Toth explained when discussing the success of the workshop.

This desire to do the best for children was clearly on display.

Tiffany Grant (Bethlehem Housing and Support Services) talked about her desire to attend the workshop. “Just to be aware of what’s going on and how to help our children at a young age to be successful”.

In addition to a full-day session for RECEs, Mary Gordon provided a 2 hour workshop for parents in the evening. The Niagara Children’s Planning Council has long discussed how parents are experts in their child’s lives and play a vital role in their early learning development. Being on the same page about an issue as important as bullying was an opportunity taken up by over 40 parents.

The Children are Safe Pillar Committee recorded both of Mary Gordon’s workshops on October 26 and community members can look forward to videos being released soon. The committee hopes that these videos will be used to encourage more discussion and planning around this important subject. 

 

(Left to right: Sandy Toth (Co-Chair, Children are Safe Pillar Committee), Mary Gordon, Katherine Martin (Co-Chair, Children are Safe Pillar Committee)

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