preschool podcast anisha angella

Overcoming Educator Burnout and Rediscovering your Passion for Education

Episode 233– Burnout has been top of mind for a lot of educators over the last year. In this episode, Anisha Grossett, RECE, BASc shares with us her experience in helping educators rediscover their passion for early childhood education in the classroom and how fellow educators can do the same. Anisha gives us a glimpse into her new book Zoey Has an Allergy- a great resource for young children, parents, and educators who are navigating a severe food allergy. 

Learn out more about Anisha, her services and, her book on Anisha’s website

Episode Transcript

We’re the voices for the families we care for and for the children we care for. So, leadership is so important because we, as the voice, you carry so much weight and so much knowledge and information about what you’re dealing with as you work with families one-on-one.

Ron SPREEUWENBERG: 

Anisha, welcome to the Preschool Podcast!

ANGELLA:

Hi, thank you so much for having me!

SPREEUWENBERG: 

It’s totally our pleasure. We’re delighted to introduce you all to Anisha Angela [Grossett]. She is an early-childhood educator, a coach and a children’s book author. And I’m really interested to learn more about you, your background, your new book that’s hot off the press and the work that you’re doing with early-childhood education programs on leadership and coaching, things that we’re really passionate about on the Preschool Podcast.

So, Anisha, great to have you on the show. Let’s start off learning a little bit about you. I understand you have many years of experience as an early-childhood educator here in Ontario, in Canada. And you’ve since gone on to start something more entrepreneurial and also authored a book, which is really cool. Tell us more about your journey.

ANGELLA:

Okay, great. So yeah, I’ve been a registered early-childhood educator for many years. I started out in the classroom – loved it, still love it till this day – and then moved on to some leadership positions, to a senior leadership position overseeing 45 childcare centers around the Ontario area.

And then I decided to kind of move into something more for myself in the entrepreneurial lifestyle. So, I began the process of writing my first book and then starting my very first business, which is in each Anisha Angella Books and Consulting, where I coach and consult many different professionals in the field of early-childhood education. I coach leaders and I coach owners and I just help people to feel empowered about their roles in the field of early-childhood education.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Cool, empowered early-childhood educators is definitely what we’re aiming for. And you also have a book that I understand has just come out on December 8th [2020] called Zoey Has an Allergy. Tell us a little bit more about your motivation and inspiration to write a book and also on this particular subject.

ANGELLA:

Yes, Zoey Has An Allergy, my brain baby, I call it. So, basically a little bit about Zoey Has An Allergy: So, it’s about a five-year-old girl who discovers she has a severe peanut allergy. And it just takes you through the story of her realizing [and] discovering her allergies and going through the whole process of understanding it, building confidence and also teaching those who read the book why it’s important to keep others safe.

The reasons behind it actually started out with my own experience because I’m anaphylactic. As per my experience, I would say Zoey is kind of a little version of me. So, basically my experience with dealing with allergies and growing up and then also mixed into working with children in my career as an early-childhood educator and just not seeing enough literature and resources out there for not only children but families to kind of understand the process of understanding food allergies. So, that’s basically the basis on why I wrote the book.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Cool, interesting. I had a conversation with somebody not too long ago about allergies. And I know we have some people on our team that have allergies. And so we were recommending that certain things shouldn’t be brought into the office, like anything with peanuts, like peanut butter. And so somebody said to me, “Well, those people could just sort of, like, try to avoid the peanut butter.” And I’m like, “Well, that’s not really nice! Surely you can do away with your peanut butter sandwich so somebody doesn’t…?”

ANGELLA:

It’s a huge sacrifice!

SPREEUWENBERG: 

It’s a huge sacrifice, right?

ANGELLA:

Yeah, and that was one of the main reasons of the story, too, is just to get people to understand that A, it’s not a choice to have a food allergy. But there’s a whole process that happens with people like myself when they discover they have food allergy. You struggle with confidence to speak up for yourself; you struggle with being included in meals and stuff like that, as well. So, that was kind of the basis for my book, too.

But I completely understand that process, especially working in the childcare world where usually centers are peanut-free and nut-free. And we still have to go through a little bit of a battle sometimes with families to get them to understand why it’s important.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Yeah, those are some interesting points that you bring up, from the perspective of somebody with an allergy that you wouldn’t have as somebody without an allergy, just that depth of how that might impact you, in terms of maybe your confidence level and in those types of things or inclusion in certain things and whatnot.

And you started this this business, you’ve done something entrepreneurial with Anisha Angella Books and Consulting. Tell us a little bit more about why you decided to get into consulting and take this entrepreneurial route.

ANGELLA:

Such a great question. So, there’s lots of reasons. But I would say my top reasons are I wanted to build a career for myself that was motivated by my passion. So, being in leadership roles and working with staff, I realized I have a true passion for training. I have a true passion for networking and connecting and supporting educators and leaders in the field.

So, I thought to myself, “I would love to have a career where I could just do that every day.” So, that’s kind of the basis for that. And just also working in management, I was able to kind of take a look at some of the needs of support that are needed in the field for educators and leaders, as well, because we’re busy every day and we don’t have the time to take care of our needs and what we need.

So, that’s where I come in as a coach, to kind of align you with support and empowerment to be the best you can be. So, kind of all of those things mixed into one and creating the dream career for myself, as well.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Cool. And what do you find are things that your customers or clients are needing the most help with right now?

ANGELLA:

Oh, I would say the top things is just aligning themselves with, realigning themselves with, their passion for the field. And that’s something I can definitely empathize with 100% because in the early-childhood field, we are givers and we give and we care for the children and families we have.

Sometimes things get really tough in the classroom and in the offices and stuff like that, as well, where we kind of lose sight of why we started in the field. And I would say that that’s one of the top things that kind of comes to me from clients, is helping them realign with their Why and their passion for the field.

I have a lot of clients that are suffering from being burnt out and kind of pressing the reset button again in their career to get that drive and passion back. And a lot of it has to do actually with COVID-19, as well, with just making sure we stay on track for what the vision is for our early-childhood sector and that’s to care for families and children. So, I’m helping everyone to get back on track with this disaster we call COVID, as well.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Yeah, it’s certainly been something we’ve talked about quite a bit on the Podcast and at HiMama even, too, just in terms of burnout and just being overwhelmed. And for an early-childhood educator, I can’t even imagine they’re truly on the front line in supporting children and families and are exposed to COVID-19 while also dealing with all the challenges of being an early-childhood educator – which is very difficult in the best of times – and also with all the personal ramifications of COVID-19.

And to your point, all early-childhood educators are thinking about serving and supporting and helping others. And so reminding them to think about themselves and giving themselves time to focus on their own health and wellbeing must be a huge, huge thing right now.

ANGELLA:

Yes, a huge thing. And the number one thing I always tell them is, “You can’t give anything if your cup is empty.” So, we always hear, “Seeing things half-full or half-empty.” If your cup is empty, you can’t give anymore. So, you have to get to a point where your focus is on refilling up with whatever it is that you need. And that’s your focus because then you can give again and feel better about it, as well.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Yeah, that’s a good way of thinking about it. And you talked about sort of, like, getting folks back to their passion, their Why. How do you do that? How does that conversation go? How do you get somebody back to reminding themselves why they’re so passionate about what they do with all the challenges they’re facing right now?

ANGELLA:

Excellent question. So, one of the main things we focus on is connecting with why they started in the field. So, getting them to think back to their first position they worked in the early-childhood and why they even took an early-childhood program to begin with. And just starting at that base part of their journey and then working from there.

 And then from there, we kind of go for ,“What are four goals, for top goals you have for yourself that would make you feel more empowered in this moment?” We kind of just take a journey from the beginning of where they started to where they are now and connect the dots to be able to create some well-set goals to work on.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Cool. And one of the themes that I’m seeing in a lot of conversations right now amidst overwhelm and burnout and stress and anxiety is writing things down and the impact that that has. Because there’s so many things going on in our heads right now. And not only that, we don’t have people to just go sit down and have a drink with and talk about it. So, we’re just sitting, we’re all at home in our own thoughts. Is that something that you do through your work with folks, too?

ANGELLA:

Yes, 100%. I always have the notion in my coaching, it doesn’t even really feel like you’re dealing with a coach. It literally just feels like a friend that wants to see you do well. So, when they come to me and we do our sessions, it’s just a safe space to be able to have those conversations, a vulnerable space and also a space where you can vent and also, like you mentioned, write down those goals and have someone there to hold you accountable for those goals, as well, because we know how accountability is a big part in actually achieving what we want to achieve.

So, all of that wrapped in together is basically what you’ll find in a session with me. And the feedback I’ve been getting is just, like I mentioned, just having a conversation with somebody. It’s super casual and just having someone there to support you.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Yeah, totally. And so you have taken a leap of entrepreneurship. What are some of the lessons or things that you think can be applied from entrepreneurship in your experiences in the field of early-childhood education?

ANGELLA:

I would say that it’s not for everyone; it definitely is not for everyone. And I say that because you are on your own in the sense that you’re your own motivation, you’re your own worst enemy or you’re your own everything.

So, getting set up and understanding that that’s the main areas that will happen when you jump into this new realm of being an entrepreneur in early-childhood, that your passion is going to drive you, as well. So, your passion is going to drive you throughout your whole new steps of career in this entrepreneurial lifestyle and stuff like that, as well. And just staying true to what you’re passionate about, as well.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

And do you think there are things that you can take as an entrepreneur who’s starting your own business or your own company or your own childcare center and apply that to a childcare program? Let’s say you’re a director or a teacher in a childcare program. And you’re not necessarily the owner or the entrepreneur in that sense. But maybe there’s some entrepreneurial traits or capabilities that you can hone and that might help you in your role? Do you think there’s any translation there?

ANGELLA:

Yeah, for sure. I think in every role, whether you’re in the classroom, in the office, you’re leading a team, is just leadership. Being a leader, even in my own role, even though I may not have a manager and stuff like that, as well, just being a leader in everything you do and setting an example is a huge one that actually interconnects with all of the roles I can say actually that I’ve played in my life as just being a leader in what you do and just setting a standard is a huge one, I would say.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Yeah. And it’s something that I think a lot of people struggle with, is how do you balance the time on thinking about being a stronger leader and working on that capability, versus the pragmatic and practical that’s always right in front of you, the whirlwind every day? How do you think about balancing that?

ANGELLA:

That’s such a great question. It’s just finding tactics that work for you. So, staying grounded in what your goals are in whatever position that you’re in, whether you are setting goals for yourself according to what you want to accomplish in the next little while or whatever the case may be, it’s about just sticking with that.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Yeah. And I’m personally very passionate about leadership and leadership within early-childhood education, specifically. But I would love to hear from you why you think leadership is so important to early-childhood education.

ANGELLA:

Such a great question. It’s mainly because we’re the voices for the families we care for and for the children we care for. So, leadership is so important because, we as the voice, you carry so much weight and so much knowledge and information about what you’re dealing with as you work with families one-on-one.

So, just the voice, you’re the voice for them. So, that’s why it’s so important to have that knowledge when you’re going into whatever you’re going into, is just knowing that you’re the voice or your colleagues are the voice for the families and for the children, as well.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Yeah, awesome. And what if you want to expand your capabilities as a leader to also include coaching and coaching your team? Any tips from that perspective?

ANGELLA:

Yeah, for sure. I have lots of tips because that was basically my go-to when I played a leadership role, is leadership roles is not to so much manage a team but coach my team. And some of the strategies, like I mentioned: vulnerability is a huge one; having a space, an open space for people to know that you’re human.

So, even though you’re leading the pack, you’re also human and you make mistakes as well. And just having that open dialog with your staff is huge, especially when you come to situations where you have to deal with specific conflict or something like that, as well.

I would say that’s a huge one, vulnerability. And I always use the term “egoless leadership” where you’re not leading with an ego, you’re leading because you want to bring everybody to the same common goal, as well. So, I would say those are some top ones, for sure.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Yeah, so important. And if you think of some of the strongest leaders, whether that be on a global, historic scale or even in your own personal life, I think oftentimes just seeing those people as human beings was – and is – a key aspect of why they’re such great leaders.

ANGELLA:

For sure.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Anisha, it’s been wonderful hearing more from you. Before we wrap up, lots of folks are struggling out there. It’s a difficult time still as, in a lot of places, a second wave of Coronavirus is hitting us and we’re heading into the colder months in some areas of the world. What’s your advice to early-childhood educators out there who are on the front lines dealing with this?

ANGELLA:

I would say that we were built for this; we were built for challenges. Anybody in the field, they know that there are so many ups and downs that we deal with on a daily basis. But just reminding them that we’re built for this even though we didn’t get a manual. Nobody got a manual of how to deal with COVID, really. We didn’t get the manual but we are 100% built for this and we’re built to last for this. So, we’re going to make it, 110%.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

I like that message. Certainly… I was watching a session the other day and one of the main points was that resilience is something that you have to build over time. And there’s no doubt about it that early-childhood educators are building their resilience every day, working with little children in the classroom. So, I like that they are very well positioned to be resilient and are built for this, love it.

Before we wrap up, if our listeners want to get in touch with you or learn more about your consulting work or books that you’ve authored, where can they go to get more information?

ANGELLA:

So, my website, for sure. So, that www.AnishaAngellaBooks.ca. Or I’m all over social media, so Instagram, Facebook, and then my handle is just @AnishaAngella.co.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Wonderful, wonderful. Anisha, thank you so, so much for joining us on the Preschool Podcast!

ANGELLA:

Thank you so much for having me!

Kiah Price

Kiah Price is a Community Ambassador at HiMama. Prior to HiMama she was an Early Childhood Educator in a preschool classroom in Toronto. She is the Jill of all trades at HiMama from dipping her toes in Sales, Customer Success, Operations, and Marketing! She enjoys sweating through spin classes, hot yoga, and biking along the waterfront trails. She loves traveling and trying new foods and wines across the globe- 29 countries and counting!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *