Roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, and understood, and support effective decision-making and operation of the service.
The element 7.1.3 wants each individual who begins work at the service to have a clear understanding of their role, responsibilities and the expectations for their performance. They should be encouraged to engage with the philosophy and context that underpin the operation of the service as early as possible. A comprehensive induction process plays a critical role in creating and maintaining a positive and professional culture.
Case Study – Everything just works.
At Cinderella’s everything just works. For example when nursery educators go to do a nappy change, there is always a supply of nappies set up perfectly above the nappy change table.
Educators know exactly how much their rooms craft and material budget are because they are told each week by the room leader. The room leader involves all educators by asking how we would like to spend the budget. This gives Emma, the Toddler educator confidence and she is never afraid to plan for science lessons with her children as she knows how to take the centre credit card to buy material she needs. Emma knows exactly where to put the receipt, so the budget can be reconciled.
All educators know exactly how to complete their timesheet and know if it’s not correct they will not be paid. This ensures everybody completes the timesheets correctly with admin never wasting a minute to chase people.
These practices allow Jenny the admin person to do other things that support educators to their job, like booking buses for excursions. Jenny has developed a strict routine which includes timesheets, ordering food and other material the service needs to buy.
Jenny says she has a diary where she adds everything from emergency drills, to the daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly, quarterly and yearly task. Jenny says she needs this level of strict routine so nothing gets forgotten.
Mel the Nominated Supervisor is confident when an authorised officer walks in because every month Jenny is completing filing cabinet audits on both children and staff folders. All staff and nearly all parents know to keep their records up to date with Jenny.
Tamara says, “This level of detail flows through to the rooms to help us be better educators. We follow children’s interest and balance this with lesson plans that educators need to develop weekly. The weekly routine of creating lessons helps educators to plan better, manage time, plan a mini budget for the resources they need and learn new teaching techniques that in turn help create curriculum from children’s interests. Another practice that really makes a difference is ensuring everybody writes on the curriculum. Educators feel pride in their achievements and this practice sees educators from different rooms often talking and discussing their curriculums with each other. This has helped improve the whole centre’s curriculum.”
These practices were developed a few years ago and many aspects are led by the Educational Leader. She ensures everybody knows exactly how to do their job and takes the time to teach what is required and why it is required. The educational leader runs the inductions for all new staff and really assesses the educator’s knowledge and practice to ensure they know what to do. She never lets them ‘just read it’, she makes them read it and show how they understand what they have read by demonstrating it. New educators at all levels get up to speed quickly with what is expected because Georgie (Educational Leader) does a great job, which in turn allows everyone else to do a great job.
Case Study – Putting out fires. The Nominated Supervisor is always putting out fires, never gets things completed and educators don’t do much as they are waiting for someone else to make a decision. The educators turn around and say “we can’t do that because nobody ordered the craft paint last week…. We need more equipment because they broke that 3 weeks ago….. We can’t go on excursions because no parent has signed off on the form.” Behaviour problems take up a lot of time and stressed educators have used all their sick leave.
What is not embedded practice?
In 1974 William Oncken Jr. and Donald L. Wass used the analogy of monkeys to describe what happens to your time. They observed that many problems arise because staff don’t know how to deal with their problem and then they decide to throw their problem (or monkey) onto others. Imagine all the problems you are given as, time wasting, wriggling, demanding monkeys on your back that were never your monkeys but which you need to do something about it. These monkeys come in all different breeds.
For example, you get a call from the preschool room as a child’s behaviour has become a monkey ready to be thrown onto your back. In you go and out you come with a little monkey named Jackson. You are now a monkey entertainer which leaves you no time to do what you need to do as Jackson the monkey is in your office. Then you may make the mistake of going into the toddler’s room and the room leader says “we have a problem.” They describe this problem in great detail and want you to do something about it. This is the trainee breed of monkey, who doesn’t have the skills to do anything. They can’t interact with children, can’t do a nappy change and don’t have the skills for early childhood.
Now you have two time wasting, wriggling, demanding monkeys on your back, but wait, a parent is now ringing to give you another monkey in the form of a lost item of clothing. You put the phone down, turn around and an educator is in tears at your door as she throws you her monkey before walking out the door. This is a magical, just appeared, sickness breed of monkey.
See how Oncken and Wass describe the monkey plague that becomes your management chaos so beautifully. Let us suppose that ten educators are so thoughtful and considerate that they let two monkeys leap from each of their backs to yours in any one day. In a five-day week, the Nominated Supervisor will have picked up 100 screaming monkeys—far too many to do anything about individually. So you spend your precious time juggling educators’ issues (monkeys) while leaving no time at all to do what a Nominated Supervisor has to do. Welcome to the world of early childhood.
What should have happened?
Educators in the preschool room needed to step up and increase their skills in building relationships with children and managing challenging behaviour. In my experience most, if not all, behaviour problems come from disengaged educators who can’t build relationships with families, which in turn means they can’t build relationships with children. These educators are then unable to create curriculum that is meaningful to the child. What they create is something that is easy for them eg getting activities out of the storeroom and plonking them on tables without engaging with children. The child becomes bored out of their brain and disengaged. Through their behaviour (which is the only way many can communicate this type of problem) they tell educators that the rubbish from the storeroom doesn’t interest them and they’ll behave this way until they get another form of attention.
The trainee problem comes from the room leader not having enough structure in the room for educators and trainees, and not taking the time to show rather than just tell them exactly what is required as part of their job. The phone call is an extension of this problem, in that educators are not being held accountable to their job and room leaders are not managing their room and children.
The sickness problem comes from not effectively managing educators’ sick leave (eg allowing excessive sick leave to be taken) or not enforcing sick leave policies.
Start identifying the monkeys and when people throw their monkey onto your back. Use the next page to help assist you.
Matthew Stapleton, Director of Centre Support