Management, educators and staff work with mutual respect and collaboratively, and challenge and learn from each other, recognising each other’s strengths and skills.
We all have different strengths.
A key part of element 4.2.1 is to ensure we first discover then use everybody’s strengths. This will increase job satisfaction, improve practice and open the way for continual improvement across all areas. This is especially important for young educators. When we stop and think about each educator’s values and strengths, we can carefully use them in ways that work best for them and for the team. Here are some examples.
|Educators’ strengths||How to help educators “shine” and improve overall practice||How could we be accidentally shutting educators
Worked as a map maker (Cartographer) for 12 years at State Forestry
|Get Cherie to create maps with children||Not finding out what Cherie did before and not allowing her to use her past skills. Going on treasure hunts without Cherie.|
Has a comprehensive knowledge of care giving to babies.
|Support Tina to mentor other less knowledgeable educators to build their understandings and practices.||Allow Tina to work in a room without babies.|
Passion for environmental sustainability
|Have Kate mentor other educators, create family and child awareness and action, and build an environmental / sustainability action plan for the service embedding education for sustainability in all aspects of service and teaching.||Not using Kate to help recognise or understand the need for teaching and embedding sustainable practice, dismissing the importance of EYLF.|
Methodical and detailed educator
|Have Cade take on administration roles co-ordinating others to ensure compliance with all record keeping.||Ignore Cade’s strength which could be a benefit for administration and recordkeeping.|
Interest in gardening and outdoor environments
|Allow Jemma to oversee garden and outdoor environment projects teaching children and educators how to garden, plant, create outdoor learning environments.||Not allowing Jemma to take on garden projects.
Employing a gardener.
Keen soccer player who participates in local league.
|Encourage Monica to engage children in soccer games teaching children skills, concepts, promoting fundamental movements and active play.||Ban team sports as they are too risky.|
|Use Mel’s leadership skills to mentor and support less confident educators in leadership capacities, or to support educators in their role.||Use Mel in a supporting role.|
Case study – Educator’s strengths allowed to shine
Cherie was a cartographer (map maker) for 14 years before entering early childhood. See how she skilfully weaves her strengths and the community into learning.
Since going on our excursion past the smash repairers we have been studying cars. Ellie, Nella, Logan, Lucinda, Kyran, Jadzia, Charlotte and Nathaniel built a car park like the one at Big W. The children enjoyed gluing on the white markings showing where to park. Cherie provided opportunities for children to construct materials as a strategy for learning LO 4.4.
The children learnt we have designated spaces to park our car in. From their perspective as a car passenger they did not realise there are designated parks. Once the car park was constructed, we numbered the car parks and the cars from one to ten correspondingly on the park and on the car. This was to enable number matching. Cherie modelled mathematical language LO 4.2. Lucinda picked a blue car that was number 7 and Cherie asked her to find its parking place. Lucinda had no problems. Logan and Nathaniel enjoyed letting gravity run their cars down the ramp. Logan said, “this one going to shops.” Logan, Jadzia, Nathaniel and Lucinda confidently shared their learning and pleasure with others LO 4.4.
When they drove their cars up the ramp Cherie said, “Your car is going up to park.” Nathaniel replied, “down to the shops.” Cherie said, “that’s right in Dubbo. When you went to Sydney on the weekend to see your auntie, where did you park?”
Educators Eliza, Kerrie and Gabby believe professional collaboration starts by knowing each other’s strengths both as educators and personally. Through a guided reflective practice ‘Identifying Educators Strengths’ (30.10.18) it was established Eliza is great at leading educators and planning events for the centre to create a sense of belonging eg the “The Colour Run.” Kerrie loves and practices art outside the centre, which in turn sees her implement unique and creative ways to teach young children art (eg 5.10.19.) Gabby’s strengths include developing engaging lesson plans for the children (eg 4.10.19).
Critical and collaborative reflection amongst the educators has developed better communication. Quick morning meetings are held daily where the team set goals and plan how best to work together and with the children. For example, Nursery Two’s goals for the week were to find strategies to help Leo with room changes and transitions. Educators researched John Bowlby’s attachment theories, and reflected upon their own frustrations and how that may be affecting Leo. The team consistently questioned themselves to see how they were meeting Leo’s needs or what they might change to meet his needs. Educators also reflected through the parent’s perspective (2.11.18) and explored the tension Leo might be experiencing with his mother expecting a new baby.
Below is a case study that demonstrates all the exceeding themes.
The blue text is directly from the NQS Guide, page 222-223, showing exactly how Exceeding theme 1 Embedded, 2 Critical Reflection and 3 Meaningful engagement with families and communities and how it links into practice.
By creating a goal wall in our staff room to find out more interests and strengths of our educators, we discovered one of our educators has a love for all things science. Emma now works collaboratively to share her existing strength with the children and educators while continuing to develop her skills. She conducts daily science experiments with her children and shines as an educator! Through our wall our educators have begun consistently demonstrating a high level of collaboration, affirming, challenging, supporting and learning from each other.
Chemical Reactions! (Emma’s strength is conducting science experiments)
This afternoon Emma provided Eli, Olivia, Aria, Lucy, Brandon, Heath, Hunter, and Natasha with resources that offered challenge, intrigue and surprise, supported their investigation and enabled them to share their enjoyment while participating in a science experiment (L.O:4.2). As Emma engaged the children in the experiment, she explained to each child step by step how the experiment will work. Firstly, Emma encouraged the children to place four cups on the table and she placed some dry ingredients into the cups: salt, sugar, bicarbonate soda and baking powder.
She labelled them and explained to each child that they then had to place some liquid into the ice cube container: lemon juice, vinegar and water. She then explained, “I’m going to give you each a cup. You can choose one liquid and dry ingredient each and place them into your cup. We’ll see if it makes a chemical reaction.” Eli was the first to try the experiment. “Can I have this one?” asked Eli pointing to the sugar and lemon juice. “The salt has gone” said Olivia. Emma explained to Olivia and the others that the salt has dissolved into the water. “My turn please Emma” said Aria. As they were picking out their ingredients to place into the cups, Brandon, Nicholas and Natasha all used bicarbonate soda and vinegar and found out that it made bubbles.
“Look bubbles” said Nicholas. “It’s making funny sounds “said Brandon. “It’s fizzing” said Natasha. Xavier and Hunter used the equipment with increasing confidence and skills (L.O:3.2) when using the spoons to place the liquid into the dry ingredients. “LOOK I did it” replied Hunter. “Can I try?” asked Xavier as he used the spoon to try and pick up the water.