Three Cups of Tea and ECE

Greg Mortensen and his colleagues have been responsible for building schools in small villages in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In his book, Three Cups of Tea he wrote about the process of working with the leaders in a village to develop trusting relationships that allowed them to work together to build a school. This process is the model for the following “Three Cups of Tea” activity. As relationship development was necessary to build schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan, so the cultivation of relationships among staff, families, and children is crucial in any educational program.

Ways to Keep My Tea Brewing

Cup One

In Afghanistan & Pakistan a guest is invited in for a cup of tea as a cultural formality. As an early childhood educator, what are your first steps to welcome children and families into your program? How do you get to know “guests” even before they come in for the “first cup of tea”? How can we conduct initial encounters in a way that invites our “guests” to want to come back for a second cup of tea? How do you begin to build trust from your first encounters with staff, families and children? What would be important elements in creating a welcoming physical and social environment?

Cup Two

In Afghanistan and Pakistan, when someone is invited back for a second cup of tea, the intention is to show genuine interest and to build a deeper relationship. It is a time to get to know each other better and to build trust and respect. In our work it is a skill building time. How do we develop deeper relationships for children, staff and families? How do we help children develop social skills like communication, listening skills, problem solving and empathy?

Cup Three

In Afghanistan and Pakistan, sharing a third cup of tea is the acknowledgment of a person as a valued member of the community. Now there is the trust and connection so that everyone can move together in community. What can you do to nurture a trusting community feeling for staff, children and families? How will this help the group choose and accomplish community goals? How do we share power? How do we empower others? How do we become activists in the greater community in which we live? Who else should we invite for tea?

Starter Ideas:

Cup One: Phone etiquette, welcoming unhurried first visits, inviting children to come for the first visit, comfortable office and reception area, take time, ask questions, invite questions, comfortable children’s environment.
Cup two: Active listening, demonstrating empathy, “Ask 3 before you ask me” (children are encouraged to ask three other children for help before they ask the teacher), encourage children to talk to each other instead of each talking to you, cultural sharing, trust building activities, making connections between families, between children, staff and families, practicing peaceful problem solving strategies.
Cup three: Class meetings, problem solving techniques, ways to empower children and families in our community, sharing power, consensus building, embracing social justice in early childhood programs, and care for the environment.

My Ideas:

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(Original Photo by Lindsay Crandall)