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Delivering the ZERO TO THREE Critical Competencies for Infant-Toddler Educators™ in Spanish

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When early childhood educators have the opportunity to receive training in their home language, how do they and the families they serve benefit? We spoke with Gisela Morales, ZERO TO THREE Certified Trainer in the Critical Competencies, about her experience delivering the Critical Competencies in Spanish. 

Tell us a little bit about your background and what you do.

My name is Gisela Morales. I was born and raised in a small town in Oaxaca, Mexico. I was a kindergarten teacher in Mexico for about 6 years before coming to the USA. I moved here in 2006. Here in Oregon, I have worked as a preschool teacher, a therapeutic teacher, and a child development specialist for Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships. In total, I have worked in early childhood for about 24 years. I work with both centers and family child care educators to promote the growth and development of infants and toddlers and their families. 

Right now, I work for Child Care Resources and Referrals as their infant and toddler program specialist. And I’m running the Spanish-focused child care network providing professional development and technical assistance. All the educators in my group have infants and toddlers in their programs. Every month I provide at least three hours of professional development for them. I do one meeting a month of peer connection and I provide one-on-one support. And of course, I send resources that they need daily. Everything is in Spanish. 100%.  

How did you get involved in delivering the Critical Competencies in Spanish?

It was the second week of this position back in 2018. It was a new position in the state too — Oregon didn’t have an infant and toddler specialist at that time. So, they needed every Child Care Resources and Referral to have one person that educators can come to with questions about this specific age. So, I was the first one! Then I got invited to the ZERO TO THREE Critical Competencies Training-of-Trainers (ToT). The ToT and all the materials were fully in English. I remember all the questions that we had for the Spanish community. Is this going to be available in Spanish? Is this going to be available? Because that’s a lot of material. I was so worried it was going to take too much time to translate.  

I don’t know how they did it! It didn’t take long to translate the materials into Spanish after we finished the ToT. I was super happy with all the materials we had ready in Spanish: videos with captioned subtitles, the PowerPoint presentations, the e-book, the participants’ manual, the trainer’s manual. It was ready to go but everything was designed to be delivered in person — all the guidance and the activities. COVID started and I had to prepare to deliver it online. Even with everything ready in Spanish, it took time for me to prep and tweak it for an online delivery. 

I started with Area 3. It went so well, and my group loved it. Then we went for Area 2 and Area 1 and then the finale it was a success for them. The only one that I was able to do in person was the four-hour finale session. People cried. We had been together every month. When we met in person, we talked about ZERO TO THREE and all the activities. It was a very emotional day. 

The partnership with the Oregon Department of Education began in 2019 when they contracted with ZERO TO THREE for the delivery of the Critical Competencies for Infant-Toddler Educators™ Training of Trainers (ToT). The ToT was scheduled to run from 2019-2020. Given the events that unfolded with the COVID-19 pandemic, Oregon DOE was a partner in informing how we could translate the in-person delivery to an online and now a hybrid training. It was also through this partnership that we were able to translate the entire Critical Competencies suite of products into Spanish. 

How impactful has it been to share the Critical Competencies with educators in their home language?

Oh, wow. It had a huge impact. Educators are so grateful to have this cohort in their home language. I put something here in my notes that an educator wrote about ZERO TO THREE in our last class: “These classes gave a lot of meaning to my life and work environment, since I began to make changes in the way I see children and families.”  

English is my second language. I’m bilingual, but when I get the opportunity to take a class fully in my home language, it feels different — it feels incredible. The educators that took this cohort only speak one language. So, they were beyond happy and grateful to have the materials and the classes fully in Spanish. To be able to understand the content and express their experiences and ideas in their own language makes things easy and less stressful for them. And they love the system. They love ZERO TO THREE’s content and everything about it. It made a huge impact for them because you don’t have this opportunity very often.  

This continued partnership has resulted in over 30 infant-toddler specialists from the state being trained in the direct delivery and coaching of the Critical Competencies content to infant-toddler educators.

Looking for the ZERO TO THREE Critical Competencies for Infant-Toddler Educators™ in Spanish?

The Spanish curriculum is available for purchase in our bookstore.

Cover of Spanish-language Critical Competencies curriculum shows toddlers playing.

Excellent educators are intentional.

To help develop your skills, consider our current offering of ZERO TO THREE Critical Competencies for Infant-Toddler Educators™

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