Kindness of An ECE

By: Panak



Podcast transcript: Kindness of An ECE


Scratch Media: Welcome to a place for passion, a podcast where York’s university’s professional writing students explore the contribution their city’s residents have made by making their passion projects come true.


Panak: ECE early childhood education is a program at Linkedin, also known as Link in Mississauga, its organization advocates on the behalf ESL, English as a second language, also known as ELL students. Helen Kara is a woman who is fighting for qualified and certified ECE teachers rather than school based teachers with no knowledge on how to work with ECE students in the ELL program at Linkedin. And how she has to push for equal pay with these teachers.


Helen Kara: We had to push, umm, in the fairness of like how much we got paid and how much school based, because there was a different, a different range, a different range in pay. So, ahhumm, because umm school based was paid more, and we got a little bit of an increase but we were, we were never on the same page scale because of the uh the title. Because of them being in school based, uh, they are more fortunate, in, in, in, in their increase in pay. Were still, Link, still gets paid less and I think we will always get paid less.


Panak: So how did you advocate on the behalf of the ELL students at your program at Link?


Helen Kara: We tried to, umm, we did, I did a lot of outreach. I tried to find, maybe communities, communities in their own cultures. Like what's available for them, what's available for their kids, what's out their free for the new immigrants umm umm. Where they can go for parenting, for parenting help, like parenting skills uh to educate them with their early education. How relevant it is for their kids to have it, like umm, any umm. If they wanted to continue their kids in their own language, the heritage programs. How do...I just basically I provided what’s available for them in their community and anything that was available for free umm I would make it aware to parents. Umm because being new in Canada they don't have that type of help. I advocated for materials, more toys, things that kids can see. That relate to where that they're familiar with. Like uh things from their culture and being exposed and getting them exposed to other cultures. So, they learn, so they know that, ok, this is Canada uh this is I’m uh this is my country but I’m also, uh, I’m also friends with people from other countries um yeah.


Panak: So how did that differ from what the school based teachers did?


Helen Kara: Well school base is more umm, it's more uh, they play to learn right so it's play based. The kids go in they play and they learn ahh things that will help them with their letters, shapes their…so, that's what we focus on umm where we wanted them, where this are, where this was our way to try to welcome them, like help them settle better uh expose them to different uh to the to the, what's available to them, like what's in the city umm.


Panak: What made you different from a school based teacher in advocating for the students in comparison to a school based teacher?


Helen Kara: Well we had the chance to provide them um I think a little bit more like um. We focused, we focused a lot on English as a second language. Their new, uh, they are new so it's like we new it was a bit of a shock so we kind of even helped them settle into the school environment, help kids with that shock of being like from a different country and then they come in there. So, we found ways to help welcome them into, into the program um where school based just as soon as the child walks in, it's all about the aca, the academics right? Where here we are more like, it was, and it was a smaller group of kids where, so they were uh it wasn't very overwhelming. When they walk into a school based it's quite overwhelming because there is about 30 kids there but they were able to have a lot less than that uh per room.


Panak: Luigi Iannacci, author of, Learning To “Do” School:  sees that students in North American elementary schools are more culturally and linguistically diverse. Each year there is a noticeably increasing diversity meaning more children in Canadian elementary schools, located in urban centers that speak a first language, other than English or French of course.


Helen Kara: Every year you see um I thought it was only with the Link program but now that I am at in a school based setting with ah I expected to have many uh English uh speaking you know people but um there are a lot of English as a second language students. A lot of children that have just arrived uh half a year ago, uh a year or two or even months ago. So, um there is a, there is a change where those children are um in small groups. In every class, you might have encountered a few but now its. Its sometimes even half a class of um English as a second language children.


Panak and Helen Kara: Mmhhm.


Helen Kara: So, it's it's uh grown, it's grown a lot.


Panak: Service Canada does states that only 59 percent of primary and preschool teachers got "permanent" full-time status in 2010-2011. A proportion has declined since 2002-2003 where it was 64 percent, while some 19 percent were considered as "back-up" employees and some 22 percent held part-time positions or non-renewable contract positions, or were hired per-lesson on basis.  


Panak: What I want to ask you do you believe they do this so that more ELL student hire tutors or extra help so that the government has the ELL students continuously using money to learn English?


Helen Kara:  I don't think so...I, I don't think so I uhh...


Panak: So why would the dropout rate be this low then?


Helen Kara: I didn't even realize there was…. I didn't realize there was such a dropout because this this program that the students are taking is a free program and even though they’re not qualified staff, not fully, like not fully it's ah, it's pretty well run.


Panak: So then why is it at, its, it's been remained at unchanged at 74 percent since 2016?


Helen Kara: So, your saying that a lot of them, a lot of of the students have left?


Panak: It says since 2016 the general dropout rate for all ELL students has remained unchanged at 74 percent.


Helen Kara: Per drop out?


Panak: Yes 74% of ELL students drop out. So, do you not believe this is, this, this may be because you have teachers who don’t have their ECE degrees teaching in these ELL programs?


Helen Kara: umm…. but it it it on our Iike it had an a a umm it. The effect it had was on the kids because the kids uh were uh being taught by teachers that didn't have the qualifications of an ECE. Right so they had to kind of even educate themselves while they were there. They were learning as they were going year after year, but when they walk into some classrooms sometimes, they don't understand behavioral issues. We (ECE teachers) can identify things that like kids with special needs where um they might say what's wrong with this kid? Why is the kid doing this? Why is he acting so crazy? Why is he acting like a monkey you know? Like why is he doing that?


Panak: I see I understand now, well could you go back to the outreach you were talking about earlier and how that helped advocate for the ELL students.


Helen Kara: We had to outreach a lot of times because uh there wasn’t enough material. See what I did a lot of was just, uh, we looked for a lot of free programs or or we, I, would run to a lot of community centers and I would get I would out I would go and collect things like for the kids. Like extra, like we’d get a couple of bins, and it had a lot of education stuff I would be able to bring to the classroom uh. So, I advocated for uh us to have these extra uh because we didn’t have enough money to have all these things I would advocate to go different community centers that had uh like a sign out bins like of educational stuff that would help these kids get themselves ready for school umm. So, this is something I had to do. I had to go myself, go pick it up, I was so nice, I would go pick it up, return it, have it in the classroom, spread it all out umm so they were exposed to lots of educational materials. So, they would understand the concept and especially with the language, right? Because I knew they needed to learn English. I would even outreach and and get my resources from places you know, like a library. I would go to a library place that had theme boxes and stuff like that. So, I outreached with community centers that provided um uh materials to help with new immigrants. So, that’s basically I did a lot of running to get free stuff because you only had this amount of budget and if you wanted anything extra to help enrich their development you had to go, you had to go source out. You had to just, you couldn’t just uh work on what you had. You know whatever you had was never enough. So, that’s what we had to do just because it was a small, you know, Link program that was running for immigrant children and parents right. So yeah that’s what I did a lot. If I found anything that was free because I knew they didn’t have money, there setting, I would look for free stuff. I would look for a, a you know parenting programs. If I had a parent who was pregnant or did this and I knew it was a new mother or she just had a child but she couldn’t provide clothing and stuff for them. I would, I would direct for them to places where they can find things and find things for free. So, I would try to meet there needs through uh community help. That’s what, that’s what I did a lot of because I knew these people they don’t the didn’t, like you could see they didn’t have the proper outfits too for their kids. They didn’t have proper materials, I even introduced them, we, introduced them to the library. We took them to the library, we told them here’s are the books, and there were areas of international books. Languages, like, uh, books in their language uh you know so they can read to their children. Because If you have a good foundation of your first language then it uh you know then you can learn other languages right. So, that’s basically what I did a lot of. I didn’t have to sell anything, oh, I even, to do extra things, to provide more I would to like fundraising money. That’s another thing I had to do. So there was a lot of fundraising I had to do to generate more money so we could do special things for the kids. To provide because they were ESL and they were, everything was new for them right, new environment, uh new language, so right so they needed stuff.


Panak: As we can see Helen Kara goes out of her way to advocate through programs to help these ELL students and their families. Teaching, and teaching well, is what Helen clearly goes out of her way to excel at. In this episode, Kindness of an ECE, Helens kindness if her passion project.  


Scratch Media: From Scratch Media





Outreach: Programs that teachers must look for outside of their school.

Theme boxes: Boxes of items at the library that helps with the theme of a subject.

Music Credit:

Cited Work:

Iannacci, Luigi. "Learning To “Do” School: Procedural Display and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) Students in Canadian Early Childhood Education (ECE)" Journal of the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies, vol, 4.2, no. 2, winter 2006, pp. 55-76, Retrieved from

Watt, David, and Hetty Roessingh. "The Dynamics of ESL Drop-out: Plus Ça Change…." Canadian Modern Language Review vol, 58 no. 2, 2001, pp. 203-22. DOI: 10.3138/cmlr.58.2.203

Service Canada. “Elementary School and Kindergarten Teachers” Government of Canada, Oct 30, 2015, Retrieved from

Recommended Sources:

Watt, David, and Hetty Roessingh. "The Dynamics of ESL Drop-out: Plus Ça Change…." Canadian Modern Language Review vol, 58 no. 2, 2001, pp. 203-22. DOI: 10.3138/cmlr.58.2.203

Moss, Peter. "Bringing Politics into the Nursery: Early Childhood Education as a Democratic Practice." European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, vol,15 no.1, May 2007 pp. 5-20 DOI:10.1080/13502930601046620

Dahlberg, Gunilla, Peter Moss, and Alan R. Pence. “Beyond Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care: Postmodern Perspectives” Falmer Press Vol, 5. No.1, 1998, pp.1-167, Retrieved from

Luis, Benny. "Why ESL Teachers Are the Best Teachers and the Best Learners” Fluentin3 Months, 2016, Retrieved from

Education Corner. "What Is So Important About Early Childhood Education?" EducationMatters, 2016, Retrieved from

"Early Childhood Education Programs at Ontario Colleges." Ontario Colleges, 2016, Retrieved from

Regan, Ellen M. "Early-Childhood Education." The Canadian Encyclopedia. HistoricaCanada, July 6 2002, Retrieved from

Miller, Kyle “Learning about children’s school preparation through photographs: The use of photo elicitation interviews with low-income families” Journal of Early Childhood Research, vol.14, September 2016, pp. 261-279, DOI:10.1177/1476718X14555703

Friendly, Martha. "Building a Strong and Equal Partnership between Childcare and Early Childhood Education in Canada." ICEP International Journal of Child Care and Education Policy, vol, 2. No. 1, 2008, pp. 39-52 DOI: 10.1007/2288-6729-2-1-39