Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Follow-up Fallacy

Fun Fact: Follow-up is mentioned once in the National Quality Standards (NQS) ... one time found on page 23 in the Guide to the Standard ...

In Quality Area 1: “Children learn best when the experiences they have are meaningful to them and are focused on the here and now. Because children constantly learn new skills and gain new insights into their world, educators and co-ordinators need to continuously assess and evaluate teaching and learning to update their knowledge of individual children and to plan new and follow-up experiences that are relevant to the child’s current context.” (ACECQA, 2012 p 23).

So, ask yourself if follow-ups as we understand them, were a core component of the programming and planning process, then the term “follow-up” would have been embedded in the terminology of the NQS right? Like a lot?

 “Children learn best when the experiences they have are meaningful to them and are focused on the here and now.” ... so where does the mentality of “follow-ups” a week later, or two, or sometimes three come into the “here and now”? 

I believe that it is important to support children. But that support doesn't necessarily need to be in the form of an activity. But this is what many of us do, or are told we have to do!  I'm not saying that activities are bad ... but they aren't everything, and they aren't the only avenue of support and teaching! They certainly aren't the only vehicle for learning, being, or knowing!

If children are constantly changing and evolving in their skills and knowings, then how do we support them by doing something (and sometimes long) after that moment has passed? 

So, what if we use ourselves, our teaching skills? (And I don’t mean over take or instruct, but I’m sure I’ll post on this later at some point). What if we are subtle in our approach? What if we take away the activity focus. What if we support in the here and now when it is most relevent to the child/ren? 

Don’t get caught up in the follow-up fallacy ...

If an Assessor, manager, power-that-be ask you “where’s the follow-up?” or the “what’s next” (I don’t like this one either!) ... Point out to them that follow-up is not part of the language of the National Quality Standards. Inform them respectfully that the new vernacular includes: support, enrich, scaffold, extend ... 

© Teacher’s Ink. 2013

Monday, July 8, 2013

Kindy Staff Too Busy Reporting To Care?

Ok since I'm on the Critical Literacy wagon ... I might as well comment on this article ... This article is more sensationalist bullshit. First, I'd like to say the title is crap. It implies that we are too busy to care which is totally NOT the case.

They state that we have to spend more time ' "reporting" on children' ... and their points of reference here are daily reflective journals and folios with photos ... Um ... I've been using daily reflective writing and kept chidlren's portfolios for the past 9 years ... the NQS has only been out for a year and a bit ... Seriously? They're blaming the NQF for reflective writing and portoflios? Piss off. 

If staff are spending more time on tasks to meet the standards - well what the hell were they doing before? NOT meeting the standards. You have to question that! You CAN meet the standards and spend time with children ... arguably ... spending time WITH the children will help you to MEET the standards. 

So one owner (and let me say here that owners are owners of businesses which happen to be child care centres) said that she has had to hire 2 full-time stuff to meet compliance on her 5 centres ... So, essentially she is saying that she had to hire two more staff to meet the standards ... Ok, so she's essentially suggested, quite possibly admitted that she wasn't employing enough staff to be giving quality care in the first place. Ok. You want us to feel sorry for you? Nope. If you can own 5 child care centres, you certainly don't deserve my pity. 

Next we have "Parents are footing the bill to fulfill a bureaucratic nightmare. Even when we tick the boxes we are not sure we have complied" ... Well, sweetheart, its not about ticking boxes. By merely saying that it comes down to ticking a box means you clearly don't get it. 

And come on, the cost of child care has always been on the rise, why is this any different to what was happening before?

I'm not quite sure what she's getting at in regards to her confusing over having diploma-trained staff ... she really isn't clear about what she is specifically confused about. The answers will be in the regulations ... Now, what I will say here, without being a smart-ass and looking up the answer myself (I really can't be bothered, I'm just glad I'm following through with a post!)  ... I think that you should be concerned that the owner doesn't know what the regulations are, where they are, and what she should be doing to meet them. The fact that she's admitted to speaking to 3 different so-called compliance officers ... well, why did she need to ask the question three times? Again, she's an owner responsible for the care, education and well-being of children. If she doesn't know what she's doing, well ... that's a concern isn't it?

Then we have a quote from a politician who has an agenda - bag the other politician. "massive over-correction" ... well ... that's just admitting that there was something that needed correcting in the first place ... So, clearly the system was a bit broken. At least we've done something about it ... At least we're going in a direction rather than sitting still and stagnating. She then talks about sitting down the with states and territories to "slow down on some of the more pointless outcomes." ... I'm curious, what are those pointless outcomes? 

Look, I know the system is flawed. In fact any system for that matter will be flawed. I don't think its perfect, but I think its better than what we had before. There is still huge piles of crap out there ... there are still those misinterpreting it for their own benefit. Kate Ellis who is the Minister for Childcare said that they will be reviewing the framework - well that was bound to happen anyway wasn't it? ACECQA has been reporting on the progress, it stands to reason that there would be some follow through with that.

Kate Ellis has then gone on to say that "There is no more documentation required ... that there was under the previous quality assurance systems" ... There is different documentation required. Because its different it requires us to work harder until we are more able to meet the requirements ... In time, it will be easier. It really will. 

We just have to work for it. 

So my peeps, start putting out! 

© Teacher’s Ink. 2013

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The NQS/EYLF Product-Monster and Critical Literacy

Critical Literacy has been on my mind a great deal of late ... and I’ve been struggling to write a post on it. I thought it was because I couldn’t get my words out the way I wanted, but I realise now that it’s because it’s too broad a topic.

So. I am going to focus on Critical Literacy in relation to the big bad EYLF product-monster.  It seems that everyone is jumping on the EYLF bandwagon – both on the world wide web and the very accessible and free Facebook.

All over the internet there are apps and templates to buy as well as for free. There are web-pages to become paid members of so that you can download templates galore. Not to mention the EYLF program websites left right and centre. I don’t doubt that some are designed and sold by people with genuine intentions who are knowledgeable and experienced. There are also those who have genuine intentions, who simply lack sound knowledge.

Then there are the OTHERS. There are those that are merely using the letters E and Y and L and F to get your attention and then do nothing about it. There are those who distract you with ‘Bling’  - things that others have done. Do these places have something genuine to offer you that you otherwise couldn’t do yourself?  Are they even presenting you with original ideas? How are they even relevant to the EYLF and the NQS?

The EYLF is not about templates or computer programs. It’s not about putting EVERYTHING across a page and cross referencing it and saying that you are meeting all the requirements.
You are a consumer. We all are. It’s important that you critically reflect upon what others tell you. It is important that you make informed decisions about where you spend your time and money.  If a company tells you that their product will meet all the requirements, or that they will make it easy, then you need to ask yourself some serious questions ...

A super clever friend of mine posted somewhere sometime at some point on Facebook (she should know who she is) that if something is easy, is it worth it? So you need to ask yourself, if your job is easy, is it worth it? Are YOU worthy of the children in your care? Shouldn’t you be working hard to give them what they deserve?  Are you putting the effort in to understanding your responsibilities? Are you putting in effort to understand the children and what they want and need from you? Its not about ticking boxes to make sure that you are compliant. It’s not about being easy.

The whole NQS is about reflecting ... asking questions about intent and finding answers. It doesn’t mean that we are always going to come to the ‘right’ conclusion the first time around. Or the second or the third? It doesn’t mean that we are going to find the one ‘right’ way and then stay there ... The thing about the NQS and the EYLF is that there is a WRONG way ... but there are so many right ways. You need to find a right way for you ... and that way is not about a product (a computer program, a template, an app). Its not about a product, its about PROCESS! Process is how children learn, and it should be about how we work. We should work through process, a cycle of learning and planning rather than an end product. 

We are not, as Anne Stonehouse put it, an industry. We don’t produce!  She said it beautifully here:

So, I am questioning the content of some of these pages, their intent and purpose, and their ability to provide you: the consumer – with support, guidance and answers.  

Read the EYLF. Read the Principles and the Practices and reflect on them in relation to YOURSELF as an educator. What are you proud of? What are you challenged by? What are you learning about yourself? What are the children teaching you? What has surprised you about your teaching?

I know you’re possibly lost and scared and intimidated. I know that change does this. But I can tell you (I’ve written about this before). That reading the EYLF and the NQS over and over, and reflecting on them in relation to my professional practice have really deepened my understandings of the documents but most importantly MYSELF! I’m even at a point where I question the NQS/EYLF!


You didn't see that one coming did you?

Yes it’s true. I question it. In fact, I’m starting to question almost everything! It’s driving me a bit mad actually. It’s making me a bit dizzy! I feel a little bit ADHD at times.

So. What’s my point?  Well. When you think of purchasing a product, do you ask yourself any questions? For example:  Who has designed this product, and are they qualified and experienced enough to be supporting me? Are they early childhood trained/educated? Have they worked in early childhood education and care for long? Can I do this myself with the resources I have at hand? (camera, computer and printer, word processing or publishing program such as MS Word or Publisher, paper, pens, glue/adhesive, photocopier etc.) ... Do I need to subscribe or buy a product to do what I have always done?

The EYLF has given us LANGUAGE and IDEAS which were based upon theories. Why are we now being sold products? And inappropriate books and ideas? Why are we desperately flocking to Facebook pages simply because they have EYLF somewhere in their page name? Why are we desperately buying apps and joining web pages as members to download things? Is it because THEY are telling us that we need them?

There are just so many companies it seems – using emotional manipulation and underhanded tactics to try and get you to buy their products. Don’t believe that they care about you and your work life balance. They are a business. They intrinsically want your money in exchange for their product or services. This is critical literacy! This is looking at what you are being told and questioning whether it’s true!

Look, I am a business. I’ve never kept it a secret. But, mine is a business that at this point in time doesn’t have a product to sell. Mine is a business that has sat dormant for over 3 years. I am clearly in no huge rush! Right now I’m just doing what I normally do on a day to day basis. I mentor. I think and engage in conversations. I reflect and I write. I am not here to take advantage of you, or indeed anyone.  If you don’t like what I think, or what I have to say, you are more the welcome, indeed, you are encouraged to go elsewhere.  I know that not everyone will ‘get’ me and that is ok.  

So, go forth and ask questions. Do your research – and I don’t mean ask a question on a Facebook page! Go deeper than that! Read. Think. Question. Reflect. Read some more. Think more. Question more! Get it? Got it? Great!

This is really not exactly the post I wanted to write ... It’s not where I wanted to go with Critical Literacy, but it’s where we ended up. I shall have to write the post I wanted to write later when the words come to me and I’m properly inspired!

Until then.

Ask questions!!!

© Teacher’s Ink. 2013