Why are you running out of time?

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Why are you running out of time?

William Oncken Jr. and Donald L. Wass thought about this in 1974 and ended up using the analogy of monkeysto describe what happens to your time. They observed that many problems arise because staff don’t know howto deal with their problem and then they decide to throw their problem (or monkey) onto others. Imagine allthe problems you are given as time wasting, wriggling, demanding monkeys on your back that were never yourmonkeys 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 bethrown onto your back. In you go and out you come with a little monkey named Jackson. You are now a monkeyentertainer which leaves you no time to do what you need to do as Jackson the monkey is in your office. Thenyou may make the mistake of going into the toddlers’ room where 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 ofmonkey who doesn’t have the skills to do anything. They can’t interact with children, can’t do a nappy changeand 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 ringingto give you another monkey in the form of a lost item of clothing. You put the phone down, turn around and aneducator 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 eachof their backs to yours in any one day. In a five-day week, the Nominated Supervisor will have picked up 100screaming monkeys—far too many to do anything about individually. So you spend your precious time jugglingeducators’ issues (monkeys) while leaving no time at all to do what a Nominated Supervisor has to do. Welcometo 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 withchildren and managing challenging behaviour. In my experience most, if not all, behaviour problems come fromdisengaged educators who can’t build relationships with families, which in turn means they can’t buildrelationships with children. These educators are then unable to create curriculum that is meaningful to thechild. What they create is something that is easy for them eg getting activities out of the storeroom andplonking them on tables without engaging with children. The child becomes bored out of their brain anddisengaged. Through their behaviour (which is the only way many can communicate this type of problem) theytell educators that the rubbish from the storeroom doesn’t interest them and they’ll behave this way until theyget another form of attention.

The trainee problem comes from the room leader not having enough structure in the room for educators andtrainees, 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 androom leaders are not managing their room and children.

The sickness problem comes from not effectively managing educators’ sick leave (eg allowing excessive sickleave to be taken) or not enforcing sick leave policies.

Start identifying the monkeys and when people throw their monkey onto your back.


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