You don’t need to meet Cindy Terebush to know she’s an ECE rockstar.
Her bio says it all: teacher, coach, consultant, author, public speaker, blogger, and even podcast cohost.
Pretty cool, right?
And she hasn’t stopped there. Cindy now spends her day-to-day supporting other teachers and directors to be the best they can be—whether that’s teaching them how to use the latest child care app or reminding them to reconnect with their ideals.
As long as she’s using her gifts to help ECE professionals keep it A+, she’s happy.
Yep. Cindy is the gal everyone wants to know. And in typical Cindy fashion, she made time to connect with us to share her passions about how ECE pros can embrace change, the real problem with generation gaps in preschools, and how to get your voice heard in a noisy world.
Check it out!
Table of contents
How a chance encounter led Cindy to discover her gift
"Someone once said to me after a session at a conference: ‘You know, your gift is communication,’” Cindy smiles, “And I really listened to that.”
From the moment she took her mom’s advice to pursue a teaching qualification, Cindy was pinned as a great communicator.
“I actually consider myself to be a storyteller… I like to take real-life stories and use them to explain things that we know as facts.”
And she’s not kidding. Each episode of her podcast takes a complex ECE topic, pulls it apart, and then puts it back together so it’s super easy to digest—and all in only 15 mins.
Meanwhile, her book, Teach the Whole Preschooler: Strategies for Nurturing Developing Minds has become a #1 read for ECE pros around the country. It deals with strategies for teaching the whole child, with practical tips at the end of each chapter showing how to talk to families about changes in ECE—and, knowing Cindy, it’s no surprise teachers are queuing up to get a signed copy.
But for her, true joy comes from helping people.
“[If I] can help other people to understand something they didn't understand, then I'm so grateful for that. I tried very hard to use communication skills to take complicated topics and make them so that people can relate to them,” she says.
Talk + Action = Getting your voice heard
It’s no secret the world is a noisy place.
From television to social media, it’s hard to go anywhere without being bombarded by news.
And when you’re trying to get people to listen to you, it can be pretty intimidating.
But Cindy has aced her comms all the way—and even mastered the art of being heard at a higher level.
“Talk is easy, but if you want things to change, you have to take action.”
Working with the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Cindy proudly lobbied in Washington, D.C. and encourages all ECE professionals to do the same.
“Your voice needs to be heard, people! I think one of the fatal flaws of our professional community is that we don't come together and stand as one. We’re in these silos and we're teaching and we don't even realize the universality of what we do.”
For educators looking to make a difference, Cindy has a few recommendations:
And if you don’t feel comfortable meeting with politicians face-to-face, take a page out of Cindy’s book and flex your communication muscles in other ways.
“Write emails to them… just say, here's my concern. I'm your constituent. I'm somebody, I'm a voter,” says Cindy. “They want to hear from you. They're very interested in what the people who elect them to office have to say… The only way to change policy is to tell the policy makers what you need.”
Tech vs. Adults: Finding your Google
It’s clear to see Cindy is an ace at all things tech.
From blogging to podcasting, she’s pretty much excelled at it all—but that hasn’t always been the case.
“When I was a kid it was kind of like we’d play outside until the street lights come on,” she says. “[Now] I have two children of my own in their twenties [and] they definitely point out to me when… something's been updated. I have them as a resource. People sometimes say, how did you learn this? And the answer is usually my sons!”
In an age where tech is becoming the norm, it’s easy to see why a natural communicator like Cindy would want to learn more about it.
But it’s not just for her own sake that she thinks it’s so important—her main concern is to bridge the generation gap between adults who “don’t get” technology and children growing up with it as the norm.
“The biggest challenge [for ECE professionals] is that we're raising and teaching children who are growing up in a world very different than the one we grew up in. I think it's hard for us to relate to how these children see the world with all of this technology.”
For Cindy, the answer is to focus on what you teach children, rather than how you teach them. That means homing in on the key things they need to adapt to new situations.
“We have to have them prepared no matter what happens. And that means creating children who are decision makers, critical thinkers, who are able to socialize and who have confidence in their own abilities. Because if you have those things, then you can pretty much do and learn anything.”
From kids expecting a response when they call out “Alexa!” in classrooms, to preschoolers picking up Cindy’s hand to use her fingerprint to unlock a smartphone, it’s her first-hand experiences that have highlighted the importance of embracing change.
“I went into a classroom and I told a child I didn't know something, and they told me to ‘Google it’,” she laughed. “They were about two-and-a-half-years-old, looked at me and said, ‘Where's your Google?’ And I was stunned.”
It was because of scenes like this that Cindy believes ECE professionals must try harder to understand technology.
“Teachers need to make the effort and, just like any other skill, there will be some people who are very gifted on it and there will be other people who struggle a little more and that's all okay... You just can't turn your back on it. I don't think that's okay anymore.”
Despite her beliefs, Cindy is the first to admit that it’s hard.
“Change is hard. That doesn't make it bad. So everyone needs to take a deep breath and understand no one's expecting anyone to master anything in a day.”
The secret to growing your ECE biz
We all know running an ECE business isn’t easy.
Especially as funding gets tighter, to-do lists get longer, and the world gets noisier.
But for Cindy, there is an answer.
“We have to accept that we're never going to have enough time. And I think what it comes down to for both teachers and administrators is prioritizing.”
In her current role as an ECE center consultant, Cindy helps teachers and directors come up with easy-to-manage tactics to help navigate difficult times.
Whether it’s a school that uses out-of-date teaching methods, to one that struggles with time-management, Cindy believes her suggestions can be applied to any business.
Here are a few of her suggestions to help your ECE biz grow:
“I think we need to just really look at early childhood education,” says Cindy, “We're not babysitting. We are performing a really vital task for the future of our society and that really needs to be grasped.”
Amen to that!