May 23, 2023  Jessica Holder

Being a pedagogical leader is about being a values detective.


Looking for the clues that your values live and breathe in your early learning environments. 

As we spend more time with educators across the country, we are noticing that the ideas of pedagogical leadership have caused confusion, overwhelm, and stress for leaders and educators alike. 

As we unravel the ideas of pedagogical leadership, there are a few things that we believe to be true and the first of these things is that: It should be FUN and bring you joy, fulfillment, and pride.

Art show participants

The more that we all learn about pedagogical skills, dispositions, and values; we know that these ways of being are pivotal to improving the conditions for children, families, educators, and leaders. 

In a time where we are experiencing a recruitment and retention crisis, we wonder about the ways we can take these big ideas of pedagogical leadership and (re)introduce ourselves in a way that instead of causing stress and frustration, brings us joy and inspiration. 

We know that the ideas of pedagogy and pedagogical leadership may not have been top of mind, especially as we all navigated the uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we move out of this time of uncertainty, we have seen educators yearning for opportunities to deepen their thinking about curriculum and pedagogy. We have seen leaders wondering: “After all this time, what would a culture rooted in values look, sound, and feel like?” 

We are committed to creating conditions in professional learning not only for educators and leaders to understand what their values are but to also figure out concrete ways to make these values come to life in any early learning setting. In these times, we believe this to be one of the most valuable investments that we can make in the field of ECE to improve the conditions for educators and in turn, help solve the recruitment and retention issues we are encountering across the entire country. 

We know that in a world of overwhelm, it can be easy to question: “How can I do this when I have all these other things to worry about?” This is where professional development can be SO key. This is a gift we can give ourselves where we can slow down for an hour or two with other passionate educators and deep deeply into these values and begin to map out a roadmap for our own well-being, belonging, engagement, and expression. As noted by Stephen Covey, “Personal leadership is the process of keeping your vision and values before you and aligning your life to be congruent with them.” 

If you are struggling and feel like this idea of pedagogical leadership is a HUGE mountain before you and you are unsure where to start, we can help you find a roadmap that can take these big ideas and break them down into smaller, more manageable micro-goals that can be implemented immediately. 

Remember, “All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision”- James Clear

We believe that ANY act of reflective practice, no matter how small, is a step worth being proud of. It can be as simple as thinking more deeply about the way you say good morning to the staff and children, revamping your staff room to create spaces for self-reflection, or changing your staff review protocols to align with your values. The great thing about pedagogical work is that we can reinvent things to meet us wherever we are at in our journey. 

Earth Day Art show

We encourage you to pretend you are a “values detective” and step into your early learning setting with the questions:

  1. What is one thing I value? (Joy, community, belonging, well-being, etc.)
  2. Where do I see clues that this exists? (Consider what you see, hear, feel, and experience). 
  3. As you reflect on these clues, what are some concrete actions that you could implement tomorrow that would show you that you are being intentional about these values? At first, it is important to make goals that are achievable with what you have in your control (Consider your space, reality, resources, constraints, etc.)

What's one thing you can do every day?

What's one thing you can do every week?

What's one thing you can do every month?

Pedagogical work doesn't happen by accident. We are all one small step away from being more intentional. We are all one small step away from having relationships, spaces, and programs that light our souls on fire and make us jump out of bed each morning. We are all one small step away from healing and changing the world through early childhood education. Pedagogical leadership is one step in making these worlds a reality and we believe it starts with getting clear on your values. 

Throughout this blog, I’ve shared photos from our recent Earth Day celebrations at Discovery Child Care. We had a variety of opportunities planned for families to engage in our programs, and work together to positively impact the world such as:

  1. A fire and storytelling.
  2. An “Earth Day Art Gallery”
  3. A variety of Earth-centered activities 
  4. A variety of advocacy opportunities and fundraising opportunities for “Living Green Barrie” and their 10,000 tree initiative. 

Family gathering

This day was my inspiration for this blog. When I was walking around throughout the day and hearing educators exclaim, “This has been a great day!” Then I heard families share, “I’ve learned so much about what you stand for!” In these reflections, I thought, “These are the CLUES! This is the evidence that shows that what we believe in is coming to life and we have actions that align with the world that we want to live in.” What values do you see in these photos? 

If you don’t know where to start, I encourage you to do the same practice. Snap some photos of a day in the life and ask yourself: 

  • Do I see clues of the values I hold? 
  • Do I see evidence of the world I am trying to build here? 
  • How can I be more intentional about bringing these values to life?

“A value is a way of being or believing that we hold most important. Living into our values means that we do more than profess our values, we practice them. We walk our talk - we are clear about what we believe and hold important, and we take care that our intentions, words, thoughts, and behaviors align with those beliefs.”

Brené Brown, Dare to Lead


Published by Jessica Holder May 23, 2023
Jessica Holder