Let’s Chat

 Welcome to Let’s Chat Thoughts and Editorial


Your Life is Your Story

Think of your life as a story with chapters, pages that turn, a storyline filled with joys and struggles. When someday you share your story, what will it say about how you lived it?


We all have a Story to Tell

Once upon a time has started thousands of stories from fairy tales to performance storytellers. The once upon a time for those who share their personal stories usually begins with “when I was young” or “when I was your age.” For many who hear this opening statement, it is a cringe moment. For others, it is an opportunity to listen to the perspective of someone with a story to tell.

It is a Gift

It is a gift when someone wants to tell you their life story. An advantage of a historical account of their experiences. Experiences that may span decades of living through the historical events many can only read about. They lived it. There is value in this. Because they may know things surrounding those historical events that you will never find in a history book, a movie, or a classroom.

Listen to the Survivors

Throughout my life, I have gravitated towards those of previous generations who lived through things I could never imagine. Hearing their stories, I heard about how they survived those events, and I learned something. These folks who made it to their 80’s and 90’ are the survivors. When many others did not.

Meet the Woman across the Street

In my early teens, I met the woman who lived across the street. She was in her late 80’s. It was 1972. Which means she was born in the 1890s. She immigrated to the United States from England in her twenties when she met and fell in love with a soldier. Raising a family was her focus. Her job was preparing her children for adulthood.

What is a Tinker?

One story I still remember was when as a very young girl, about 12 years old, her family forced her move away and work for a wealthy family as a tinker.

A tinker is the lowest of servants in a grand house. They were the first to wake up early and often the last to go to bed. Her task was to clean out the fireplaces, start and maintain the fires, and heat the rooms throughout the day. Then, to haul in wood for the next day.

She was a nobody, a ghost moving quietly through the house unacknowledged.

Why am I Sharing this, Story?

The days were long, and it was back-breaking work. This young girl was sent there to help support her family with her small paycheck. You may be wondering why I share this story. I share this story because each chapter in our own lives means something. Your life and your story have value.

Never Give Up!

This woman lived in a time of a distinct class structure and was at the bottom. She lived through a history of five wars, pandemics, societal and technological changes while trying to find meaning in her life. She never gave up, and I am sharing this with you for this reason.

Each Day is a Page in Your Story

Each day you are writing your own story. When you look back, how will you tell your story? What lessons about your struggles or joys will you have to share? The most important lesson I learned from my conversations with the elders is this.

They never gave up. They got up every morning and did what needed to be done. Then they did it the next day, month after month, and year after year. They didn’t quit when it got tough.

The Focus is Building Relationships

When the elders told their stories, they focused on their relationships with friends, family, and strangers. Not their careers or how much money they may have had or did not have. Their relationships gave them the resilience to meet challenges and share joys. I often heard regrets about how their priorities influenced these relationships.

One Day When You Look Back

You are writing your own story page by page, chapter by chapter. What are your priorities? What really matters?

One day when you look back at your journey, will you have built those relationships? Or were you focusing on things that no longer have value?

The Children are Our Future

The future depends on the children and the adults they will become. We are a piece of their story. In the chapter about you, what will it say?

Whether you are a teacher, parent, guardian, caregiver, friend, coach, or mentor, what legacy will you leave behind in the hearts and minds of the children you are responsible for or interact with?

Our Stories Overlap

Our stories will overlap. As the adult in the room, you are responsible for guiding, modeling, supporting, and protecting the children. Whether in your home, the classroom, the playing field, or the neighborhood. And not just with your children but for each child you encounter.

Building Resilience

They tell us that for a child to build resilience and mitigate the traumas and events in their lives, they need at least one positive person in their lives that they can count on. One person who will be there for them and who tells them they can instead of can’t make it.

Are you willing you be that person for a child? It is a huge responsibility. Will you take on the challenge?

You Do Not Have to Walk Alone

If you had someone who modeled this for you, cherish it. If you did not, it’s never too late to find that person, even though you are all grown up. For adults, we call these people mentors. I encourage you to find one or maybe two. It could be a friend, a co-worker, a family member, or a great-grandparent. Someone you can really trust.

A Reason, A Season, A Lifetime

They also say that people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Seek those who can be this for you.

My hope is that you choose to be this for someone else. You never know how your story, time, encouragement, or kind words may help a child or an adult make it through one more day.

Wishing you well and be kind out there.

Debbie Hasbrook M.Ed.

Do you Hear What I’m Saying?

The most important thing you can give someone is your time and attention. Meaning or intention is created by the speaker and listener based on their understanding of what is being said, their experiences, and their expectations.


Time and Attention

Once upon a time has started thousands of stories from fairy tales to performance storytellers. The once upon a time for those who share their personal stories usually begins with “when I was young” or “when I was your age.” For many who hear this opening statement, it is a cringe moment. For others, it is an opportunity to listen to the perspective of someone with a story to tell.

Meaning and Intention

Meaning or intention is created by the speaker and listener based on their understanding of what is being said, their experiences and expectations.

For instance. “Do you hear what I’m saying?” can sound different depending on your tone or the emotional state you are in.

The phrase can sound snarky or rude, it can sound concerned, or it can be said as an accusation.

Try it out yourself. Say the phrase three different ways. “Do you hear what I’m saying.” How did that sound to your ears? If someone said it to you, how would you receive it?

Everyone Wants to be Heard

Everyone wants to be seen and heard when they reach out for connection. Don’t you? Children want and need to be seen and heard. How often have you heard a child say, “Watch Me!” Adults crave the same attention, especially from those they love and those who they have to engage with on a daily basis. Like co-workers, families, and leadership.

Remain Calm

Remain calm. Take a physical step back if the person talking seems upset. Take deep breath. If you can, find a private, quiet space for the conversation.

Believe in Good Intentions

Believe in the good intentions of the person speaking. We all say things we don’t mean when we are upset or anxious. Waiting or expecting someone to say something offensive or unkind is not listening. It’s waiting to respond.

Ask Questions to Understand

If you don’t clearly hear or understand what someone is trying to tell you, how can you then give them an accurate or thoughtful response? Often a response is not what the speaker is seeking, sometimes they just want to be heard.

Listen before you Respond

Too often while someone is speaking to us, we are already thinking about our response. Here’s a tip. Don’t. When someone is speaking to you, just listen. Wait to respond. Then you can thoughtfully consider your answer. If you aren’t sure what the person is really trying to say, ask them. “I heard you say this, is that correct?”

They will confirm or affirm that was the message. If not, you have given them the opportunity to clarify their message.

Put Your Phone Away

Put your phone down. Get it out of your hand. Then you will not be tempted to look at your phone while the person is talking to you. When you gaze at your phone, mess with papers, or do something other than listen, the message you are sending to that the person is that they don’t matter. That you aren’t really interested in what they have to say.

Stay in the Moment

When working with children it is easy for your mind to wander to all the things that must be done or things going on in your personal life. If a child gets up the courage and approaches you do your best to stop whatever you are doing and give them your attention. Instead of bending over them like weeping willow tree, get down on one knee. This shows you value what they have to say.

Sometimes Your Scary

Remember proximity. Some children will not feel comfortable or may become frightened if you are too close, too fast or too loud. Talk softly. And do not force them to look you in the eyes! For some children this will be very uncomfortable. You want them to feel safe.

Listen to them without rushing or finishing their sentences. Be aware that it might take them some time to get to the thing they want to tell you. At that moment make them feel that they are the only person in the room and give them your full attention.

The Person in front of you is the Priority

Unless you have a sick child, someone in the hospital or other emergent situation, do not check your phone if you hear a message come in. Finish your talk with the person in front of you and then check your phone or call back the missed call.

Body Language Cues

Acknowledge what someone is saying with your body language and eye contact. Unless it is someone who will feel uncomfortable with extended eye contact. Watch for cues and be respectful. Watch your own facial ques, like no eye rolling.

For some their safety bubble is a foot away from you and for some it is 6 feet away from you. Respect their boundaries.

And be conscious of your own safety bubble. Taking a step back is ok, or putting boundary between you like a desk, table, or chair. Be subtle.

Bullies and Aggressive Behavior

No one has the right to bully or threaten you. If this happens the conversation is over. You have the right to leave the space. Or calmly request that the person leaves for now. If you cannot leave the room, you can ask for assistance. It is scary for children and adults to witness aggressive behavior and heightened conversations.

Be the Cool Head

Keep your cool and be the professional in the room.

Becoming aggressive yourself never goes well. Your first consideration needs to be safety. Connect with your supervisor about what happened. It is your director or supervisor who should connect with the speaker.

You’re not on your Own

Sometimes the conversation should include you, your supervisor, and the speaker. Connect with your supervisor to schedule a time when all three of you can attend. Let them make the arrangements.

Really Listening to Understand

This conversation was about listening, really listening to value others and find meaning together. I will cover responding in a future vlog.

Remember to breathe! Do your best to listen.  And be kind out there.

Debbie Hasbrook M.Ed.

Are you a nice person?

Most people consider themselves as nice people. Nice can include so many things like kindness, empathy, manners, compassion. But how each of us interprets nice can be very different.

Think of the teachers you had growing up. That could be a teacher in the classroom, or someone else in your life who was a mentor or coach. Now think of the one’s you thought were nice or not nice. What made them nice, and what made them not nice. And how did they make your feel about them? How do your students see you? Do they think you are nice?

Have you Noticed?

We are bombarded today by information. Whether it’s social media, the news, movies, podcasts and online games. Being nice doesn’t seem to be popular. Though There are a few programs that are still teaching positive interactions. Interestingly, how we see ourselves, is not necessarily how others see us. Because they are looking at us through their own lenses, up bringing and perceptions. Just as we are looking through our lens at them. This is something to consider and reflect on as we interact with others.

Overall, most people see nice as behaving in a pleasant way. In today’s society we use Nice for a lot of things. But nice means something different to everyone and we usually start to hear what it means to be nice from our families or caregivers at an early age. So here we are, working with the children, interacting colleagues, families, and caregivers and each of us has a different idea about what it means to be nice.

Is your Perception of Nice Shared?

How do we come to a consensus about what nice is, and the expectations around this when guiding the children in the classroom. The only way a child knows nice is by the actions we apply to the term nice. But remember that children are getting their understanding of nice behavior from a number of places and for a number of places. What is nice at home, what is nice in a public place, what is nice in the classroom and what is nice say at Grandma’s house.

As adults, most of us have an idea of how to be nice in different locations and with different people. We might be one way at work, another with our friends, another with our family and another at a football game. For very young children this is very confusing. When I’ve heard a teacher or parent of a young child telling a child to be nice it is usually because they have missed the memo about being nice in that setting or situation.

When was the last time you told a child they were not being nice? What was the behavior you perceived as not nice? What behavior were you hoping to see, that was nice? Now how would you teach to that expectation? “Be nice” usually pops up when a child is doing something the adult sees as not nice. How are they going to know what your expectations of nice are if you don’t teach it to them. Have you had a conversation with the family about what their expectations of nice are? Or shared the goals around nice in the classroom?

Next Steps

So, what to do? I suggest giving these young children a clue on what the expectations are around the term nice. As well as a consensus between all the adults in the room, so there is no confusion when working with the children. Give children the information they need so they can be successful in your expectations. They can’t achieve an expectation if they don’t know or understand what it is.

What do you already do with the children in your care, to share with them expectations around niceness? If a child needs redirection or a specific behavior modified, use the correct term with an explanation on how it is applied to the situation.

Was it not nice, or not a class expectation?

Was it not nice or was it not kind?

Was it not nice or was it truly not fair?

Was it not nice or was it not caring or empathetic?

Was it not nice or was it coming from a bias?

Was it not nice or was it not polite?

Was it not nice, or was it really a reaction in response to another child’s action?

Teach don’t Lecture

Explain it to them, so they understand what it was they shouldn’t have done, and what might have been a better action or reaction. Teach them, don’t tell them. Have conversations at circle or the dinner table about your expectations for their behavior. Explain it to them at their developmental level. Don’t lecture.

Introduce the term, and the actions associated with it. Explain that for your family this is what it means for us and why this is an expectation. Just telling someone what not to do, is not beneficial and only confuses the child. Telling someone what to do is always more effective than telling them what not to do. Because usually once they stop doing the thing, they just stand there not knowing what to do next. Or how to avoid that activity in the future.

Give them options on what to do instead. You can use individual conversations, scenarios, puppets, books, videos, movies, role play, and much more to illustrate nice. Not as a lecture but interacting with the child or children. Let them come up with the solutions, the problem to solve or ask questions.

Children are always Watching You

Just because a child is young, it doesn’t mean that they can’t think, or don’t have memories and experiences that will be brought out that are associated with what it means to be nice. Even nonverbal children will remember, though they may not be able to express it. Start giving them the words.

By opening the conversation with open ended questions, you can help them through anything that may have hurt or bothered them. Or when there was a successful experience that they or someone they know was nice. Celebrate this.

The most important way to teach nice, is to be nice yourself. Children are always watching you even when they are busy doing something else. They are always listening. Be authentically nice to the children and the adults in the room. The children can tell if you are being authentic or faking it. So, be nice.

Warm Regards, Debbie Hasbrook M.Ed. January 10, 2023

Let’s look at this coming year as an opportunity!

A New Year is approaching. Usually, there is excitement about the coming year. This year feels a little different, but it doesn’t have to. So much is happening beyond our control. But what we can control is our lens about what is happening.

When we look back over the year 2020, we can feel proud of how we engaged the many challenges head-on.

 Look how much we have learned about the value of what we do. About how much the families and children have come to value the care that has been available for them. The care they need so working families can put food on the table. We have a new start with the knowledge we have gained. It won’t be long before classes resume as usual. The current challenge will pass, and then what?
 You are Heroes

The dictionary describes a hero as “A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked his or her life.” You have bravely done this You are heroes. While others can stay home, your purpose calls you to the challenge. Not for financial reward, but for the children and families who need you.

 What have we Learned?

What have we learned? The children need your smile, nurturing, and support. So do the families. You are important! Families are the child’s first and best teachers. But now families realize how much planning, presentation, and heart you bring forth in your work. We understand that children learn so many skills they need for school readiness in the classroom, socialization with their classmates, and an awesome Teacher. That’s you. You have an opportunity to support lives and hearts.

 Let’s Move Forward!

Many of you have taken this opportunity to advance your learning by taking courses. You have been digging into what authentic learning means. You have learned how to provide opportunities to reach learning outcomes in unusual ways. How will it guide your teaching practice, when the laughter and energy of your returning students fill the air? How will it influence priorities in engagement?

 You’ve Got This!

You have met and conquered the challenges. Because of this, you know that no matter what comes next you can overcome them. Once the children start returning to class, they may need different types of support. But you’ve got this! Prepare for their return by learning about how to care for children who have experienced trauma. Because they have, and you have too. You will be a light in the darkness guiding them back to whatever the new normal will be.

 Thank you for being a Hero!

Hello 2023, The Teachers are coming!

Teaching is a Journey not a Destination

Teaching is a journey, not a destination. How to travel this journey will be more successful with a roadmap. 

Start Your Journey

Teaching is a journey, not a destination. How to travel this journey will be more successful with a roadmap. Our profession and requirements continue to evolve. The ultimate goal is to guide and care for the children; to support their developmental, school, and life success.

 We know that children learn best through play, and we observe them while playing to document their progress. Using those observations gives teachers a roadmap for interactions, curriculum, routines, and environment. Active supervision, intentional and individualized learning plans provide a foundation to support each child’s developmental progression.
The question is to build the connections, and relationships, needed by the children in care. It will take a new way of thinking about the work and a new way of walking through the day. Above all, the children must always come first in decision making.

Be a Thoughtful Educator

There are many curriculums and approaches that you can use. They have great ideas, but these ideas aren’t new. Thoughtful teachers have been using these ideas and tools for many years. This information was codified, researched, and collected to provide you with another roadmap you can use to travel along your teaching journey. Without a travel plan, you don’t know where you are going or how to get back.

 With the roadmap created through your observations and supporting information, you can get an idea of your destination. What might that be in your classroom? What might that look like for each child in the class? What might that look like in the decisions made throughout the day?


Think Outside the Box

There is no one program, curriculum, or approach that works for every child in your care or connects with your teaching values. Observations will help you adapt whatever you are using to the individual needs of the child. Use your roadmap to inform where you are going. It is ok to switch lanes whenever needed. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you get lost.

 You are the driver of this journey!
Warm Regards, Debbie Hasbrook M.Ed. March 9, 2021

Open Ended Questions?

Reading begins with language development. Language development starts at birth. Talking to an infant often and using open-ended questions, yes open-ended questions, begins the process. Why use open-ended questions?

This process initiates a pattern of verbal interaction that respects and values a child’s thoughts and personal choice. The words a child understands makes it easier to connect language to print media.

An open-ended question example could be used in, say when a baby is crawling (or rolling) and gets stuck. Which often happens. Instead of just moving them, ask them open-ended questions as you move them to a safe space. Such as:

 “Hello baby, how did you get there?”, “Hmm, I see you are stuck. What can we do to get you un-stuck?” 

When you consistently talk with a baby/toddler/pre-k and not at them, it builds language and relationships. As they grow, their minds recall and respond to open-ended, problem-solving question processes. It allows you to teach appropriate, safe choices and problem-solving techniques aligned with their developmental level. 

Teach the Children How to Think not What to Think

When you teach a child how to think instead of what they should think it benefits the child’s cognitive development and academic progress. Whether it is selecting socks, or which book they would like to read, a baby may have already formed a preference. All children will engage and learn more quickly when using materials and activities they enjoy and can choose for themselves.

Developmentally Appropriate Books

 What does this have to do with reading? If you are reading to babies and early toddlers, choose books with few words and high contrast pictures. Photos are better than illustrations because they are relevant and easier to understand. Black and white are better than color because of the high contrast in black and white images.

As children grow, their eyesight develops from high contrast needs to distinguish more complex images. Using the open-ended question method is very important when reading to children of all ages. While reading to a child, you not only expand language, but you also help them practice complex problem-solving.

 Example: Babies: “Can you find the puppy? There it is!” “What is that puppy going to do with that bone?” Let’s find out.”  

Toddler to Pre-K: “Oh. Oh. The cat is chasing the mouse! What do you think will happen?” Let’s find out!” Pre-K and up: “What is the problem the mouse has to solve?” “If you were the mouse, what would you do?”

How to Introduce the Reading Process

Support the correlation between language, letters, and words by pointing to the word as you read. Most of the early books you use will have few words, but you can still follow this process. Open-ended questions not only support reading acquisition but lifelong learning and problem-solving. Open-ended questions take children to the next level in all areas of growth and development. Teaching a child how to think instead of what to think opens their minds to new ideas, the ability and confidence to make sound choices into adulthood.

Warm Regards, Debbie Hasbrook M.Ed., April 20, 2021

Take Care of Yourself First

One of the emergency instructions given to you when you fly in an airplane is about what to do if the airplane loses air pressure. If that happens the air-masks will drop down from above. You are instructed to put on your own mask first …..

You are instructed to put on your own mask first, even if you have a child next to you. This feels counter intuitive for caregivers. We find ourselves taking care of everyone else first, then, if there is time, we take care of ourselves. But of course, if never feels like there is extra time.

It’s Ok to Take Time for Yourself

That does not mean ignore the needs of those around you selfishly. But being a little selfish is ok and important for your mental and physical health. To meet the needs of others successfully you need to be physically and mentally healthy, or it will negatively affect you and the work that you do. But this means doing healthy things and not diving into unhealthy activities. The biggest thing you can do for yourself is to be diligent in getting enough sleep, get some exercise, eating healthy foods, and drinking plenty of water. Maybe even taking a daily multivitamin.
Teaching is Dynamic
 For many it may mean counseling, nothing wrong with seeking professional help to manage your mental health. Most insurances will cover at least a portion of this. Seeking mental health assistance is a sign of strength not weakness.
 Almost half of the educators report they are feeling overly stressed. Some report they are in tears by the end of the day. This is not ok. This means that they are working with the children and interacting with colleagues when they are not happy, and not able find the balance they need to be fully present. When someone is overly stressed it impacts decision making, and how a person responds to others. The children and others take the brunt of those actions, and this impacts not only their experience in care, but their physical and mental health.
You are not Walking Alone
In the last few years everyone on the globe has learned that there are things we cannot control but must endure. Not that being a teacher in the classroom is something to endure, but as you already know it can be tough sometimes. But here is some hope. Here are some tips that have helped others.
Be the Change

Instead of going into that negative space by complaining or gossiping, rise above. That only makes things worse. When a person intentionally turns away from the negative and towards the positive, they focus on the things they can control. Make a list of everything you can control and focus on those things. The only person we can control is ourselves. So, trying to control the behavior of others (adults) is a waste of time and energy. Detach and let it go. Set aside a few minutes of total quiet, no media, no phone, just sitting. This will really help, but I know it is easier said than done. Find yourself a mentor who can walk with you through the challenges. Someone you can truly trust to keep it confidential. Keep a journal, do not write anything that is confidential identifying. Start in a place of grattitude.

Warm Regards, Debbie Hasbrook M.Ed, December 25, 2022