Anarchy & the EYLF Pirates

Refuse. Resist. Rebuild.

On Being The Perfect Teacher

On being perfect

I want to speak up for my beliefs about my work learning with young children.

I do not want to be compliant with things I do not believe. But when I think about challenging rules or rulings, I find myself concerned about needing to be above reproach first.

I am not a perfect teacher. My portfolios are not up to date. I struggle to evidence the learning cycle for every individual child. My room has clutter.

Even as I write these examples, I think, “Oh no – if I tell them that, they will think I am a bad teacher.” Once they see me as a bad teacher, that colours their view of everything I do. And it devalues my opinions. I can only be worth listening to if I am a good teacher.

To present publicly as a good teacher, I have to be doing everything well. I have to have all my documentation up to date and showing deep understanding of the EYLF. I have to feed the 7 folders. I have to have my room decluttered, with natural materials and beautifully presented. I have to keep on top of all this while maintaining strong relationships with children and families, and meeting the needs of each individual child and being competent in each family culture, and creating a positive environment and really caring and greeting everyone with a smile and not wearing jeans.

If I am seen as a competent and committed teacher, I may be able to get away with challenging things. But if I am seen as uncommitted or incompetent, my challenges will be interpreted as an excuse for getting out of the work.

There are a lot of things I want to question about current systems and changes. But I am aware of feeling the need to be beyond reproach before I can do that publicly. If I make public statements about how I think things should be, and then I am revealed as inadequate, the consequences are not only for me. The views I express are then in danger of being tainted by my inadequacy. I could be letting down the side.

And now the penny drops.

The workload silences us.

We can only challenge things about the system if we can demonstrate that we are perfect operators; that our challenge is not about finding excuses for our personal failings. But if the workload is superhuman, if the expectations are skyhigh, we can never master it. So we never earn the right to have our voices heard when we challenge those expectations, or when we ask

‘Who are we really doing this for?”

Gráinne O’Malley

© Anarchy & the EYLF Pirates 2013   All Rights Reserved

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9 comments on “On Being The Perfect Teacher

  1. Gaynor mayfield
    September 19, 2013

    Wow, you put my feelings into words. We are being asked to do so much and while I think that the NQF has been an extremely positive and beneficial for the children in our care it has also increased our workloads and made us even busier if that was even possible! I can’t wait to read future posts to further provoke my thoughts. I am not a perfect educator but I give my all each and every day and lately it seems that even my best efforts aren’t enough… I’m afraid of burn out and I adore my position but the seeds of doubt are creeping in.

  2. Louise @ Tales from the Sandpit
    September 20, 2013

    Yes, agree with your comments. (apart from the not wearing jeans – and I’m an oldie, but don’t get any bad vibes about that)

  3. Anarchy & the EYLF Pirates
    September 28, 2013

    Ahoy Gaynor and Louise,

    Welcome aboard. … You both certainly aren’t alone in this. I felt such kinship with Gráinne when I read her pirate piece. I thought it was a brave piece to write. I am proud of her. And proud to call myself her Pirate friend. PS I wont hold the not wearing jeans thing against you Louise 😉

    Pirate Rrrregards,

    Jeanne de Clisson

  4. Alec @ Child's Play Music
    September 28, 2013

    “The workload silences us.” That is a profound statement. The drive towards an unattainable perfection before we earn the “right” to question the system does indeed silence many. I know from my colleagues who are still working within the system (I’m not – I’m no longer an early childhood educator, per se) that they feel under enormous pressure, and also that many feel that dissent will be interpreted as unprofessional, with possible implications for their career.

    Yet every system needs dissent, needs iconoclasts, needs people who will question and push the boundaries. Without such people the system rolls along unchanged; it becomes a stagnant pool of complacency and self-satisfaction. I can already see the EYLF – a system which is intended to welcome a range of views and pedagogies – being interpreted by many in a literal (or even fundamentalist) manner as a series of “you must do this, and this and this” statements.

    But I’m optimistic. This is a period of profound change in Australian early education. And it’s during periods of change that we have the opportunity to influence how (and why) the change will occur. We must seize this opportunity, and we must not be silent. When someone says “it must be done this way” we must be prepared to ask “Why? And where does it say it? Who is saying it? And what gives them the right to impose their vision over those of others?”

    More power to the Pirates! Keep speaking out. “Refuse. Resist. Rebuild.”

  5. Louise Spiden
    October 3, 2013

    I wear jeans.

  6. Louise Fitzpatrick Leach
    October 8, 2013

    Thanks Jeanne, but what I meant was – I do (sometimes) and nobody minds either way….
    I worry that quality is being confused with paperwork – and this is in early childhood for goodness sake!

  7. Helen
    April 12, 2014

    Yes I agree with Louise. QUALITY IS BEING CONFUSED WITH PAPERWORK. It is concerning that someone who has emaculate, upto date paper work may be seen as a a better teacher than someone who is commited to developing positive,respectful, inclusive relationships with all children but may not have documented all that is required.

  8. Maryanne
    August 5, 2015

    I wish I had time to document what was truly happening, and it happens fast. When I choose what to document a better moment has passed (maybe because I’m engaging with the children instead of looking for documentation). Thanks for the blog… Knowing I’m not alone is great.
    From the fringe of Piracy. As the saying goes; ‘I’m not feral I’m just wild’.

  9. Karen
    November 8, 2015

    Recently I have dropped being a slave to rushing to get the ipad/camera to take a photo and document. I feel liberated to really be with the children, whether that is observing or joining in or scaffolding learning………but my documentation is probably not what it should be… My expectations of this part of my job(documentation) have had to be lowered or I think I would truly loose the desire to do be in the role. Ironically just having written Transition Statements and I feel I know the children better than ever.

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