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Reflecting on professionalism in early years teaching: views from Aotearoa New Zealand Dr Carmen Dalli, Institute for Early Childhood Studies Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand . The New Zealand context:. Total population = 4.1 million 15% indigenous Maori

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Reflecting on professionalismin early years teaching: views from Aotearoa New ZealandDr Carmen Dalli,Institute for Early Childhood StudiesVictoria University of Wellington, New Zealand


The new zealand context l.jpg
The New Zealand context:

  • Total population = 4.1 million

  • 15% indigenous Maori

  • School is compulsory from 6 years but most start at 5years

  • 65% of all under-5s are enrolled in ec services (inc. 90.5% of 3-yr olds and 98.5% of 4-yr olds)

  • Over 20 different types of e c services



1980s and 1990s integrated care and education l.jpg
1980s and 1990sIntegrated care and education

1984: Transfer of administrative responsibility for childcare services to Dept of Education

1987: 3 year integrated training for kindergarten and childcare teachers

1993: Early childhood unions amalgamate with the primary teachers’ union: the NZ Educational Institute

1993: Te Whāriki (draft)

1995: Early Childhood Code of Ethics

1996: Future Directions


Policy discourse of professionalism in 10 year strategic plan l.jpg
Policy discourse of professionalism in 10-year strategic plan

  • Professionally trained teachers essential for quality early years sector

  • All ec staff in regulated centres to be registered and qualified at 3-yr dip or degree level by 2012

  • Pay parity becoming a reality


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“Common-usage” definition of professionalism plan

“Professional” is used in one of two ways:

  • Wanted:… to join an existing team of professionals

  • Wanted:…someone with a professional attitude


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Qualifications, knowledge and experience plan

Dip Tchg/ BEd level

Knowledge of Te Whariki/ DoPs/ ERO systems

Experience of ec work

Skills

Able to work as part of team

Good communication skills

Initiative /able to take a lead

Attitudes

Enthusiasm/ passion for job

Self-motivation

Fun-loving/ happy/friendly

Energetic

Commitment to quality/excellence

Commitment to children/making a positive difference

Eagerness to grow and develop

Innovative attitude

Positive attitude

Qualities listed in ads


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NZ scholarly discourse of professionalism plan

  • ECE as a multi-disciplinary field that draws on knowledge/s from diverse areas

  • Peter Dinniss (1974) : Lieberman’s criteria of a profession

  • Dalli (1993): Katz’s 1985 criteria of a profession


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International scholarly context of early childhood professionalism

  • Agreed definition elusive

  • Multiple terms used to refer to early years practitioners (e.g., Adams, 2005)

  • Split in provision of early years between care and education

  • Issues of local politics and policies

  • Social and historical position of e c sector in different contexts


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Survey: professionalism

Aims of survey:

  • To explore teachers’ thinking about difficult situations encountered in their daily practice;

  • To explore teachers’ thinking about the term “ec professional” and “professionalism”

  • To explore how notion of “professionalism” might be re-conceptualised to reflect the unique and evolving characteristics of quality ec practice

    Method

  • Postal questionnaire to random stratified sample of 594 licensed e c centres

  • One respondent per centre, qualified to benchmark level of 3-year diploma or degree


  • 3 questions on professionalism l.jpg
    3 questions on professionalism professionalism

    1 Please list the qualities you would expect to find in an e c educator/teacher whom you would be happy describing as a “professional”.

    2 How would you recognise professionalism in a colleague when they are interacting with children, other colleagues, parents/whanau/family members,management, outside agencies like Ministry of Education or ERO

    3 Please comment in any way you wish about the issue of professionalism in e c practice


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    Advocacy professionalism

    Communication skills

    Confidentiality

    Diversity-difference

    Emotion

    High ideals

    Integrity

    Leadership

    Pay-work conditions

    Personal qualities

    Personal-professional boundaries

    Self-management

    Self-presentation

    Unprofessional behaviour

    Free categories


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    11 “clustered” categories around 3 major categories: professionalism

    Pedagogy

    • Pedagogical strategies

    • Pedagogy of care

    • Best/ wise practice

      Professional knowledge and practice

    • Professional knowledge and practice(general)

    • Qualification and professional development

    • Content knowledge

      Collaborative relationships

      - general

      - in teaching team

      - with management

      - with parents

      - beyond the centre


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    Key themes in teachers’ views of professional behaviour in workplace interactions

    1. Pedagogy

    2. Professional knowledge and practice

    3. Collaborative relationships


    Pedagogy strategies and style l.jpg
    Pedagogy: strategies and style workplace interactions

    • Treats children with respect, gives only essential directions and allows children to make choices, sets appropriate directions which are realistic and consistent, asks open-ended questions, avoids labelling children, uses a soft voice, affirms children, warm, positive and happy for long periods in the company of children, ensures children are supervised at all times, ensures children are safe at all times, all potentially dangerous materials and objects kept out of children’s reach and consideration made of a child’s stage and individual ability in the use of scissors, knives etc in the programme (1028)

    • (Someone who) is listening to the children/child, not imposing their own agendas on children, not singling out children for special attention, ensure that children maintain control over their own play, be friendly, courteous and sensitive to their needs (1100)


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    Pedagogy: strategies and style (cont) workplace interactions

    • Values children by listening, praising - motivating publishing their work, positive, respecting chn in all their varying stages and abilities, non-discriminatory.(1014)

    • speaking to the child not at the child (1010); At child’s level … respect (1009)

    • Respecting children’s individuality and being fair and developing a sense of trust and caring with each child.(1007)

    • works to extend and draw out the interests of children by bonding, understanding the child, the responsive interactions, understanding the child’s wellbeing (1032)


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    Collaborative relationships generally workplace interactions

    • Able to work side by side for the advantage of children, staff, management and community of the centre.(1033)

    • Team teaching, professional knowledge shared, cooperative, consultative decision making, ability to listen, non-biased gender/race/creed, communication verbal non verbal, sense of humour, professional objectivity.(1014)

    • Discusses and consults with other staff, has skills in working with others in a team, warm, friendly (not gossipy), accentuate the positive work of teachers, help others in areas they may feel inadequate, be honest/have integrity, values others (1100)

    • Shares knowledge and information. Encourages and inspires high performance. Learns from and respects the knowledge and skills of others. Mentors others. Addresses issues as they arise.(1129)


    Collaborative relationships with management l.jpg
    Collaborative relationships with management workplace interactions

    • Be respectful knowing that you have the right to fair employment practices (1021)

    • The educator would have a good relationship with management. Be responsive to ideas that they have for the centre and staff, while also being able to input well thought-out ideas. Also it is important that an educator can take contructive criticism on board and work on it.(1050)

    • Treat them with respect, being honest and open, by not becoming defensive in a tricky situation. Respecting them enough to know they are your employers, but knowing they are their if you need to talk to them about an awkward situation.(1247)


    Professional knowledge and practice generally l.jpg
    Professional knowledge and practice generally workplace interactions

    • Ability to use (outside) agencies for support in professional practice, by being informed of ministerial requirements, theories, kept up to date by management of recent publications etc., by being up to date with latest Te Whariki EC curriculum thinking/ by attending as many professional development. courses/seminars as possible.

    • Aware of and operates within the early childhood regulations. Conversant with early childhood curriculum Te Whäriki.(1080) 

    • Be able to demonstrate leadership and management knowledge and skills, be able to articulate any concerns in a confident manner, demonstrates a knowledge of current educational research, someone who is aware of the education political environment.(1100) 

    • Teacher is well trained and committed to providing high quality learning experiences based on observed skills and interests of children.(1186) 


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    Concluding points workplace interactions

    • Early childhood teachers in New Zealand view professionalism as valuable, desirable and entirely achievable.

    • The model of “professionalism” that is emerging from this study will include these themes as core conceptual components

    • There is a very clear articulation of the pedagogical style seen as desirable in a professional e c teacher . In the articulation of pedagogic style, there is a focus on relationships.

    • Collaborative relationships all round score highly – and even in specific relationships, such as with parents and management.

    • The starting point of professional knowledge and practice is being knowledgeable about children and the “theory of early childhood”.


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    SO: workplace interactions

    • Early childhood teachers view professionalism as valuable, desirable and entirely achievable.

    • The model of “professionalism” that is emerging from this study will include these themes as core conceptual components

    • There is a very clear articulation of the pedagogical style seen as desirable in a professional e c teacher . In the articulation of pedagogic style, there is a focus on relationships.

    • Collaborative relationships all round score highly – and even in specific relationships, such as with parents and with management.

    • The starting point of professional knowledge and practice is being knowledgeable about children and the “theory of early childhood”.


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