Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Ni Hao?- Making Sense of A Word in a Different Language

There was a cute anecdote at work that was worth spazzing in my blog today.

Today I was working with H.A, one of the children on his necklace threading at the table. Sitting on his side was a caucasian girl, L.C who was working on another activity.

Anyways, one of the children, a chinese,a boy K.L, came over so I greeted him 'ni hao'.

L.C heard me greeting him 'ni hao', then asked him what it meant. It means 'hello' in Mandarin. L.C repeated the word after me...

Much later, when we were together in the playground, L.C repeated 'ni hao' to me, and I smiled and greeted her back in Mandarin.

Then she said it to J.M, another chinese girl from the same class, and J.M repeated it back to L.C and smiled.

It is always interesting when we watch others, whether children, or adults make sense of a new word in a different language, and see that their eyes light up when they realize they are able to use it in their daily lives. ^^

-- Sent from my Nokia E71.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Workplace Politics: Some Solutions To It.

Here are some links I found on the Internet in regards to Winning at Workplace Politics.

How to Win at Workplace Politics: Link

Two Gossipy Queen Bees Rule: Link

The Calm Before The Storm? >_<

The last two days has been strangely serene at work. Granted, it made going to work much better.
I was involved in a conflict with a much younger colleague, which thankfully managed to be resolved.
This particular colleague wanted to involve the Director in the conflict, but wisely, the latter decided to stay out of it.
In the course of looking for a solution to resolving the issue, I had a feeling that CT had the thought cross through her mind that perhaps she should have kept her mouth shut in not having brought it to the attention of the Director, as she had to then write up a nice long note on it to be presented to the latter. Hah!
The conflict actually led to better things, which I did not foresee would happen in that manner. Heh... ^^
This colleague, CT, actually began to open up, and display a bit more tolerance in our interactions.
I'll be praying for more godly intervention till I am sure that the storms have passed. One can never remain too self assured, as that leads only to trouble!
-- Sent from my Nokia E71.

Monday, October 25, 2010

More Things To Come >_<

So I spoke to the Coordinator today. She did raise her voice, etc etc and became cross, but she calmed down rather quickly.

I also informed her about my situation, which she brought up in the meeting, thankfully.
However I must say that the staff will always protect their own clique.

I know what they said, and I can attest to it, but when two parties team together, how does one resolve that issue?

Well, anyways, one of the teachers in the Montessori classroom will be going away till after Christmas.

Hence for the mean time, the Director has decided to 'temporarily' shift my position to helping out in the classroom till another staff person is made available. I am not sure which, or how. >_<

I am not sure how a solution to that scenario will be made as I currently have my hands full with just the Accreditation programming. >_<

Let's just hope everything works out for the best.

-- Sent from my Nokia E71.

When Ignorance Is Bliss.

So my weekend went like the blink of an eye.

The fact that I am posting this from my mobile phone points to my lack of blogging time at home.

One of the Assistants were away, so the rest of the other Assistants had to stay back for the whole day two weeks in a row.

Having been through it, the only word to describe it is 'exhausting.'

Been in possession of a Melancholic temperament, the only thing I fret about was the completion of my paperwork.

Due to lack of time, and sheer exhaustion, my brain has been on a high dopamine state of mind for the past weekend. My body is physically present, but my mind wasn't.

Melancholics seem to thrive on using lists, and that includes completing every single (paid) task on the list!

Do we actually do that??? That really sounds scary...

How I wish I was a Sanguine... They thrive on more talk than paperwork.

Ah..... Ignorance is Truly Bliss.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Four Temperament Types: Article Links.

1) Use of Temperaments in Education: Link

2) The Melancholy Sanguine Personality: Link

3) The Melancholic Child: Link 

4) Temper, Temper, Temperament: Link 

5) The Four Temperaments: Link

An Interesting Anecdote Today.

So today we had a Maori show in our childcare centre. The children from my classroom was squished over to the other pre-school room, hence we had too many staff in one classroom.

Anyways, here is an interesting anecdote that happened with one of the children today.

I am normally not in the other pre-school classroom, but the children are 'fairly' acquainted with me as they see me throughout the day and out in the playground.

When I went into their classroom the morning, one of the girls, C* was so surprised to see me standing there that she gave me a surprised and shocked expression.

C* said to me in Cantonese, "go away, go away. I don't want you here". So I went like, "okay" and then walked over to her classroom teacher, G to tell her what happened.

The teacher, G was very surprised to hear that, and wanted to see that happen again. LOL. I told J that she speaks Cantonese. The child is about four years old, and according to J, she was a sensitive child.

So I went again and stood beside C*, telling her that I was helping another child with her work.

C* was looking sideways and kept pushing her tray further to the left side, until I walked away. To which she stopped and then sat down. J told me that C* kept giving me sideway looks though I was just standing there...

Now, isn't that the funniest thing? I am still not sure how to  make of this interesting anecdote.

Driving me Crazy.

Ok, the assistants are going to drive me crazy with their insistence on the cleaning.

They must all be Melancholics.. Not a single one of them possess a Sanguine temperament.

Say except, maybe Jessica.

-- Sent from my Nokia E71.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Overcoming Difficulties.

I have come to that point and stage where I finally have to initiate and make contact proper with not just children or staff, but parents as well.

This is the beginning of my 8th week, and there are more new responsibilities each week.

It is one thing to write the programming, especially when your work will only be assessed by accreditation, but not parents when you are not considered the 'main teacher'.

My mate says starting from the position of an assistant is a good way of winging it, and gaining experience, but at the same time being paid a professional's wages. Well, we shall see.

Sometimes there are difficulties that we find hard to overcome. Taking the first step to overcome it is really the hardest part initially, but that is it...

Getting started.

I pray the Lord will use my weaknesses, and transform them into strengths, that all who see will marvel and know that it is the work of the Lord. Amen.

-- Sent from my Nokia E71.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pay rate: ECT in a Montessori Day Care.

Ok, I realised that this is a question regularly searched on Google.

I don't actually know how much a Montessori teacher earns, though currently being employed as an Early Childhood Teacher in a Montessori day care on a part basis (meaning less than 38 hours any time in Australian employment terms).

My pay as an Early Childhood Teacher is that as provided by the Industry Award.

However, due to the lack of Montessori trained staff, Montessori schools/day care centres here may/would be willing to hire staff only with Montessori Diploma. The pay rate would be dependent on the category under the Industry Award system, as well as the category that the centre puts you on...

Some of my staff still have to get their locally recognised qualifications by training distance with TAFE to get their Certificates 3, or Diploma. It may not be the most ideal situtation, but from what I know, the staff who did that managed to procure exemptions by half, which is good. (or better than nothing!)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Day 18th: Programming in Montessori Day Care.

Today, I started Programming. Well, for the non-Montessori part of the curriculum anyways.

This is the part of the curriculum that is set out to meet requirements for day care Accreditation in Australia anyways.

First, it was a matter of getting used to the Centre's method of collating data. In a Montessori centre, the picture daily diary is not utilized as like normal play based centres, as this promotes product, rather than process.

Having to go through half a dozen observations in different writing styles, evaluate/plan individually, would take at least a minimum of two to two and a half hours just to get acquainted with the system.

Of course, with practice, it may come down to only one and half hours (hopefully).

As they say, the more one plans, the easier the process becomes.

The hardest part is just getting started. Let's pray for the best.

Fourth Week Trial: Montessori DayCare

The weather is now transitioning from Winter to Spring. With the stark change in temperature in the morning and at midday, unawares many people have caught the flu virus.

I hope it doesn't last too long!

So this is the mid of my fourth week. Today I start programming.

I would say it would be good for newcomers to keep under the radar, at least till they had a feel of the workplace before implementing any changes.

Will continue thIs post later.

-- Sent from my Nokia E71.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Day 14th: Being Called On Your Day Off.

If there is one thing I have to say about my current centre, the boss is.... petty, and erratic. I am not sure how many staff have an erratic and petty female boss, but she as hell is sure one ...

I realised that when I applied for the job in the centre, my days of "freelancing" would be coming to an almost complete end....A day off is almost wishful thinking.... *Sigh*.

Yesterday, the Coordinator asked me to stay back to cover someone else's shifts, but I told her that "I'd love to but I already had made an appointment". Thanks, but I have a spine!

Today, she gave grief to my colleague and me about having to stay back IF we are called to stay in late. She went on this tirade about "there will be days when we need to call you in early to cover another staff's shifts".. blah blah blah..

To which, today, the boss came in and said "the Coordinator was only being polite". Hhmph!

Thanks, but since I stay more than an hour away, calling me to come in early is almost impossible. If she doesn't realise that, the onus is on her, as she offered me the position knowing fully well how long it takes for me to travel to the centre anyways.Plus, I don't have a car.

I believe that if I were not in the work position that she has currently me at, she would not have asked me to stay back. From my sources, I hear that different roles have different responsibilities, and neither shall the twain meet, or her wrath be incurred!

There are days when I feel like throwing a fake sickie just to irk her.

But since I am being paid for my work, I decided that there are better things to do than to make your already mad boss go madder.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Day 12: Montessori Day Care Centre

So its now my official second day, 12th day since I started at the Montessori DayCare centre.

One of the Assistants has since left for her home country, so I was roped in to perform her roles and routines. At least, till the Principal decides what to do with me.

I start Programming next week, and hence have one week to collate all my observations - and pull all my ideas and resources.

So currently I perform the role of an Assistant who also has to do perform a lot of physical set-up work, whilst on the back of my mind, I have also got to prepare a lot of brain and paperwork.

Perhaps it is a good role for me to take, whilst I get used to the routines, and get a feel of the routines and try to fit into the team/study the staff's personalities, before assigning/delegating any duties

I read on a management website that a new Manager should not try to implement changes at least till after the first 30 days, and to think of doing that around the 60th to the 90th day.

That sounds like a good idea.

-- Sent from my Nokia E71.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

8th Day Trial: Programming

So today is my 8th Day Trial. Well, barely to say it is a trial any further, as I made the decision to sign the employment contract yesterday!

Based on the informal information 'digging' from the other teaching staff, I had the answers to my queries.

The centre did not have a certain time period where all staff had to take leave at the same time, which in a way could be good for some people.

Meaning one does not have to travel at the same time as others when tickets are exceptionally expensive, i.e. Christmas, Lunar New Year.

Even among Montessori Diploma trained/qualified teachers, I have realised that there are differences in the way that the curriculum is interpreted.

A teacher's personality, and disposition would affect the way the children responded to her instructions, regardless of the environmental set-up.

Will write more in detail later. Am really tired now. Watch this space!

-- Sent from my Nokia E71.

Monday, September 06, 2010

6th Day Trial: Christian Montessori Day Care

So, it's finally my 6th Day Trial.

I did not write for a few days as I needed to clear my mind, and not much of interest has happened at the days in between.

Today I tailed one of the main teachers, *Pam (not her real name), who managed the afternoon programme.

Pam was really lovely to observe, as she had a really calm disposition, and knew how to utilise her words, and voice effectively.

Her responsibility firstly was to supervise and manage the:
- the children, i.e. managing Transition & Group Times with the children after their Morning & Afternoon Outdoor Play.

- the Assistants- redirecting them if they were not performing their duties.

- and Looking out for the visitors, and parents.

I knew that the two main teachers were persons I should look out to observe. But as I was trained by the Assistants, I had to undertake the same roles and needed to have a good understanding of what they were supposed to do in order to supervise them.

Being an Assistant is quite difficult, and is physically demanding, as I found out. Its easier when you're young, but it gets harder as you reach your 30's.

Really, once a woman hits her 30s, and has given birth to children, fatigue just steps in more easily.

I did speak to the Coordinator, and although I was initially supposed to go on two weeks training with the Assistants, she mentioned that the Principal felt I was ready to go on trialling of the Programming.

Well, it'll be more brainwork from now onwards!

-- Sent from my Nokia E71.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

3rd Trial Day: Christian Montessori Day Care.

At the end of my work today, I managed to find time to have a chat
with the Day Care Coordinator.
The centre runs like clockwork, following a strict routine which
doesn't leave much for ad-hoc deviation.

Due to the adjustment to the nature of the work, and travel time, I
have not really had much time to read the policies given by the
centre, apart from during my lunch break, and on the train ride to and
from work.

I also found out unofficially the position that I was actually to be
offered, which I already did realised early, but this confirmed my
earlier suspicions!

With the Coodinator, I did bring up my queries on the dress code of
the staff, as there were some questionably matched outfits I had seen
in the course of the time I had been there.

Today I was tested on:
- stacking the kitchen dishwasher which I had to complete in 25
minutes, as it ate into my one hour unpaid lunch!
- clearing the outdoor sandpit area for the day.
Other areas which may be tested soon on!
- how to setup outdoor play area in the morning.
- how to setup Montessori work classroom for the next day
There was an interesting insight which I brought up with one of the
Directress, in regards to the wiping up spills. (Practical Life).

When children spill too much water on the activity tray, they use the
included sponge to wipe up the spill within the tray.
But what about if its onto the floor,or table?

She brought this question to the Coordinater, and came back with this reply.
Apparently there is a separate table, and floor sponge.

The rationale for this would include the reality element where in real
life, one would not wipe up spills and put it back into a jug/bowl/bottle etc, but use a separate wiping cloth for this purpose and dispose of the spilled liquid in a proper manner.

Makes sense?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

So, starting a new centre based position?

So yes, I was pretty excited/ nervous/ anxious/ all of the above about starting my new position.

Starting on a permanent centre based position as opposed to one where one is constantly on the move has its pros and cons.

Pros of centre based position:
- the opportunity to create long term relationships with the children. This includes too their families, and the surrounding school neighbourhood.
- stable work = recurring income.
- in Australia, that leads to the means to apply for the position of 'Authorised Supervisor'. Which means payment of extra allowance in additional to the normal Award Wages.
- Stability of meeting familiar faces, and the same people.
- The staff feel more compelled to include you as part of the team, and share information, from what I have experienced in the last few days.
- You feel more excited about going to work when you share the same ethos as the centre, and have friends you can have conversations in the centre you are based at.

Pros of Casual Agency Work:
- You can work when you want to, where you want, and stay home if you want to sleep in.
- You get to meet new people all the time.
- You get to see the different kinds of centres, and how they work, the different dynamics a work, and travel.

Cons of Casual Agency Work:
- Work availability may not be constant = no money = can't pay rent = stay home all the time.
- Stress from having to adapt to new contexts, remembering names ,
- You feel disconnected as part of the team, as you are viewed as 'outsider' by the centre's permanent staff. If you are lucky, you may meet really friendly staff, but that is almost rare.

---- Sent from my Nokia E71 mobile

2nd Trial Day: Christian Montessori Day Care.

Today was my second day of the Trial.

I forgot to mention that on my first trial day, M, the Coodinator of the school also did ask to see my certifications.

Not only did the Principal, but the second in charge person, the Coordinator wanted to see my portfolio.

Hence, I was lucky that I didn't leave my file at home as originally intended, but somehow I replaced the file back into the computer bag.

In essence, the preparation, and the availability of my Teaching Portfolio is essential when one is new to a school to assist in the 'decision making of hiring' process.

Of course, in this case, the Teaching Portfolio was personalized for a Montessori school, being a position in a Montessori centre.

She did noticed there were some lesson plans from my practicum days, which I had printed off my website.

The Coordinator was also Montessori trained, and is very particular about employing the Montessori methodology in almost all aspects of the school environment.

Eventhough the position was for that of a normal Early Childhood Teacher, which didn't necessarily require Montessori training, however having that background would and will make a lot of difference especially when applying for a position in a Montessori school.

In general, Montessori qualifications are not recognised in the traditional mainstream Australian preschools.

The centre being classified as day care, had to follow and meet the country's Accreditation needs for a day care centre, which in this case was the Australian- National Childcare Accreditation Council (NCAC), as well as legislation set out by the New South Wales- Department of Community Services.

Today, I had to:
- watch and help out in the setting up of the outdoor play, which takes place after the Montessori three hour period.
- watch and help out in the cleaning up, as the school doesn't employ cleaners.
- watch and help set out with the preparation for the next morning Montessori's classroom.

---- Sent from my 3 mobile

Monday, August 30, 2010

Trial Day 2: Christian Montessori DayCare- Things to Do.

1. Observe how the Montessori teacher of the classroom presents the activities.(have not really managed to do that yet).

2. There would be a record of what the children can do or cannot do.
- To ask the Montessori teacher about the work record of the children.(asked the Directress! It was all done in coding to simplify the recording process)

3. Prepare some circle time activities.
- Bring some storybooks to read.(I did, but so far have not been in use as I found out I had different training focus).
- Prepare songs to sing with the preschool children.(I did, but so far have not been in use as I found out I had different training focus).

4. Set up late morning outdoor play with the Assistants. (Did it with one of the Assistants)

Trial Day 1: Christian Montessori Day Care.

So today was my first day at work. My feet are hurting after being on my feet all day.

6.45: Walk out to Train Station.
7.07: Ashfield Train Station. Bought a weekly ticket.
7.47: About 40 minutes of travel to the designated suburb.
8.10: To be at centre about 15-20 mins before shift starts.
8.30-5.30: Shift For the whole day.
5.30: Get off work...

So I reached home about 7ish this evening. Went to Kmart to get some supplies.

The centre is amazingly quiet.. all the elements of Montessori are found in the way the classroom is constructed. But the centre was not originally a day care centre to begin with.

As the Coordinator explained, the centre through the years, changed the services it provided to accomodate the needs of the society. It has a history of over 20 years.

Elements of the Montessori Classroom as Observed.
  • The teacher spoke in a quiet voice. There was no shouting, or loud voices in the room. One of the main staff noted that after having being in such an environment for over ten years, she did not like it when a Liaison Teacher from a teacher training college for one of the staff came in and started talking in a really loud voice with the student teacher. To her, it felt like they did  not respect the calm & quietness that the centre employed.
  • The children walked in a neat and quiet manner. Those who didn't, had to go back to the start of the line. 
  • The children put their bowls away after their meals, and cleaned their "dining" space on the table. 
  • Many of the Montessori teachers stated that their reasons for coming to work in a Montessori school, was due to the Sense of Order found in the montessori classroom.
It was really a change, returning to a Montessori environment. It really is different from the typical Australian traditional preschool system (which currently is utilizing what they called Reggio Emilia's play based approach).

Indeed, learning where and when to "step back" from "overloading" the children with too much interaction is a skill that trainers should include in the provision of teacher training in the mainstream teacher training colleges today. Sometimes children just want to concentrate/focus/work on activity without necessarily needing to have a conversation, which may just distract them from what they were trying to do.

Wouldn't you feel annoyed if someone kept trying to talk/engage you in a conversation when you were trying to focus on an activity, say reading, surfing the Net, baking a cake, drawing a plan?

(But you didn't want to be rude but just let them continue but actually you weren't very focused on listening to them anyways...)

My point exactly. 

    Friday, August 27, 2010

    Trialling a Montessori/ECT position next week.

    So, how has everyone been this week?

    I had gone for an interview last week, but it wasn't a successful affair. It was just a casual position in a play based chain of childcare centres, but the failure to procure it, propelled me to be extra vigilant with the preceding one, as it was a permanent position in a centre.

    For the interview, I had prepared a teaching portfolio, and was vigilant with the pre-interview answer preparations.

    The centre I applied to is located an hour away, in the inner eastern suburbs. It was, if readers shouldn't be any more surprised by now, is a montessori centre. And a christian one at that.

    The interviewing questions posed by the Principal was not exactly too particularly challenging, yet I know she was trying to suss out if I was going to be a match for the centre, i.e. how long would I be in Sydney, and how far the centre was, would I be willing to travel, etc.

    However I was not prepared, nor in the state of mind to expect that the principal would there and then 'offer me the position' like that!

    Of course, the Principal did not directly show all her cards at once, but I had seen the advertised position on the Internet for more than 8 weeks in circulation now. So I figured she in a desperate need to fill in someone for the position.

    Initially, the position advertised was just a part time position with a focus on programming 'general' non montessori experiences from mid morning. Which was seriously fine by me....

    However, I believe the principal was not expecting a montessori qualified/trained teacher for the general ECT applicant.

    Yet due to the fact that I am montessori trained, the principal then asked me if I would consider coming in early for the montessori three hour work cycle period of the day's session.

    I very much wanted to not accept it, as that meant many less hours of sleep (on a daily basis!), but the temptation of working alongside in the montessori classroom was something I had not wanted to give up...

    Seriously, I would have been happy with a lower position, i.e. Montessori Directress, which does not require a degree, nor as much work.

    But I had been praying for a position which would challenge my repertoire of skills, and settling for less would not be making use of my skills and knowledge that I possessed.

    It had taken me more than 8 weeks, as long as the duration of the advertisement, with considerations in applying for the position being the distance required to travel for work.

    Perhaps this was the position that God had prepared for me, for even with my lack of australian based centre experience, my not too particularly stellar confidence, and the fact that I had worn the wrong type of shoes to the interview (which the Principal duely noted....zzz)

    At the back of my head, I can note a few reasons why I could have been offered the position.

    1- She needed someone to meet the Accreditation purposes = the degree.

    2- I had excellent Programming skills, analytical and academic mind, and fine with words, if you can't tell by now.

    3- She could have extra help for the montessori three hour cycle period observations and teaching without needing extra time to re-train.

    4- the centre has a christian ethos, and would have christian-y activities, which I share too.

    5- It was predominantly a Chinese/Cantonese speaking neighbourhood, which I did, and that would help in creating rapport with the children, and their families.

    I did ask the Principal for some time to ponder about trialling the position. After having heard what my mother had to say, my heart was more at ease, and I finally informed the Principal that I would be coming in next week.

    Thursday, August 19, 2010

    Should Your Child Sleep In Your Bed?

    Text taken from:
    (2003) Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems (Ferber, Dr.Richard) Dorling Kindersley. Pg 38

    Should Your Child Sleep In Your Bed?

    Studies have shown that the movements and arousals of one person during the night stimulate others in the same bed to have more frequent wakings and sleep-state changes, so they do not sleep as well. But there are even better reasons for your child to sleep in his own bed.

    Sleeping alone is an important part of his learning to be able to separate from you without anxiety and to see himself as an independent individual. In addition, sleeping in your bed can make your child feel confused and anxious rather than relaxed and reassured.

    Even a young toddler may find this repeated experience overly stimulating. If you allow him to crawl in between you and your partner, in a sense separating the both of you, he may feel too powerful and become worried.

    He wants the reassurance of knowing you are in control, and that you will do what is best for him regardless of his demands. If you show you cannot do this, and let him act out his impulses, he may become frightened. 

    Most children have no serious continuing problems sleeping alone. If your child is 'too afraid' to do so, and you deal with his fear by letting him into your bed, you are not really solving the problem.
    There must be a reason why he is so fearful.

    If you find that you actually prefer to have your child in your bed, you should examine your own feelings very carefully.

    Finally, if your child always sleeps with you, you may have gr eat difficulty leaving him with a babysitter. This could affect your own social life and you may find that you begin to harbour angry feelings towards your child.

    Monday, August 16, 2010

    Golden Rules for Teaching Manners.

    Berkenkamp, L., & Atkins, Steven C. (2001) Teaching Your Children Good Manners, Nomad Press, 12, 14-15

    Good manners demonstrate respect for others.

    We all want our children to make a good impression, whether it's over the phone or in an introduction.

    Think about this: Teaching your children proper table manners now could pay off during that crucial job interview twenty years from now, which just happens to conclude with lunch.

    Good manners are good for your kids, and might even give them an advantage in life.

    Golden Rules for Teaching Manners:
    1. Model Good Behaviour
    - Parents are children's most important role model, and your actions will speak far louder than your words. So if you talk with your mouth full, or interrupt other people, your kids will too.
    Use this opportunity to pay attention to your own manners.

    2. Plan for success.
    - A little advance planning goes a long way toward helping your kids use good manners in social situations.

    3. Have high expectations but set realistic goals.
    - Don't forget that kids focus on only one or two ne ideas at a time.

    4. Be Patient.
    - Good manners are just good habits that are learned and practiced over a period of time.

    5. Have a Sense of Humour
    - Remember that honing social skills take a long time, and slip ups are inevitable. The embarrassing moments now will make funny stories in the future.

    ---- Sent from my 3 mobile Nokia E71

    5 Reasons Why Your Child Won't Go To Bed.

    Woolfson, Dr. Richard C (2004)'A practical guide to parenting: Why do kids do that?' Hamlyn- Octopus Publishing Group, Bedtime 64-65.

    5 reasons why your child won't go to bed are:

    1. Staying awake is more fun.
    - the active mind of a child would rather have stimulation than passivity.

    2. Life goes on when she is asleep.
    -this maybe because she is convinced that everyone else in the family has a good time without her.

    3. She doesn't understand the significance of sleep
    - the link between her irritability and her tiredness may not be obvious to your child. That's why you need to point out the connection so that she understand why sleep matters.

    4. Her bedroom is unattractive.
    - if the room is too cold, too dark, or the decoration is too dull, your child won't anticipate bedtime with any enthusiasm. Her bedroom should be attractive.

    5. Her mind is still racing.
    - She may still be thinking about the events of the day,in and these images are so vivid and exciting that they keep her awake.

    ---- Sent from my 3 mobile Nokia E71

    Parenting when your child swears!

    From Berkenkamp, L. , & Atkins, Steven C. (2001) 'Teaching Your Children Good Manners' a Go Parents guide.' Nomads Communication.

    Pg. 54
    Talk to your child alone first and point out that you are aware of her behaviour when she is with her peers. Clarify your rules regarding swearing and warn her the next time you hear them swearing you will interrupt.

    Don't be apprehensive about parenting your child. Parenting is about respect and understanding, and not being about a friend. Through your earned respect, you will enjoy a peer-like relationship when they are adults.

    ---- Sent from my 3 mobile Nokia E71

    Tuesday, August 03, 2010

    Some children's antics

    As a casual, these are some antics you may want to be aware of. Some are downright comical, but some are just where the children are trying to see how far they can go with a new teacher!

    Use your words!
    One of the preschool girls kept pursing her lips at me and making whiney baby noises when she tried to tell me something during sleeptime.
    Me: Use your words. I don't know what you're talking about!
    The girl started speaking long words. I was so surprised!

    I need to go to toilet
    Girl B: I need to go to toilet.
    So I let her. And she came back.
    After 15 mins..
    Girl B: I need to go to toilet.
    The teacher nearby said she's just mucking around!

    Where do you keep it?
    At show & tell
    Me: Children do you have any questions?
    One child raises hand. 'where do you keep it?' referring to the show and tell item.
    After the next child speaks about their show & tell..
    One child raises hand. 'where do you keep it?'
    Must be the favourite question of the year!

    Monday, August 02, 2010

    Is it just a case of Staffing for Ratio Purposes, or more?

    On Sunday evening, whilst I was attending service at the Anglican church nearby, I received a private call on my phone. Dismissing it as probably an overseas call from my over-worried parents, I did not pick the call up.

    However, seconds later, I received a text from Agent E informing me that there was work in the nearby vicinity and I should call if I was available for work the next day.

    So I returned the call.  I was really surprised, as this was the first time ever to have heard from the Agency on a weekend, and what more on a Sunday evening!

    I was surprised to hear that the centre assigned was one I had been to. As there had been some mix-ups some weeks ago, it has made me more cautious in finding out information on age groups before receiving an assignment.

    The agent informed me that the centre is aware that I am unable to work with the certain age groups, but they still wanted me to go in. (or probably could re-arrange the teachers, I guess?) Since they were fine with that, I was more than happy to accept the assignment.

    4 Adults To 20 odd children . . .

    So today I woke up to a really chilly morning. I was really praying hard for a good day at work after some rather "hard-hitting" experiences in the past few weeks. >.<

    What I realised at work today was there were 4 adults for a preschool (3-5 years- for NSW) classroom with about 23 children and one child (who had a minor degree of autism/special needs) in a privately funded learning centre.

    Isn't that costly?

    The group leader and assistant worked really well together.

    Another male casual staff, M, from the same agency brought a digeridoo and clapping sticks. He even brought a bag of story books (with one by Pamela Allen). I am seriously amazed at how he was able to carry a digeridoo... if he was driving, it would make sense to bring it. But if one was taking public transport, say the train, or bus, it is a bit heavy to lug around, i must say.

    M told the tale of the digeridoo really well... it was my first time seeing a digeridoo, so I was impressed as well. He was that good! ^^

    The group leader, P, and the assistant, X, were really warm, and friendly.

    2 Adults to 25 Children. . . 
    Compare this experience to my time in the privately run centre I was at not too long ago where there were almost 25 children in the room, with only two adults to spare. One adult had to prepare the room, and the other adult to manage the children.

    I can really understand how much more difficult it is to only have two adults in a room, where there are about 25 preschool aged children.

    Does that theory runs true, seriously?

    Still, I remember my time when I was sent for work at this charity run childcare centre in Canterbury, where there were only two adults to about 16 toddler aged children (18 months - 2 years) classroom two years back. I was there for a number of weeks and, even though there were only two adults to 16 toddlers, we were able to somehow manage well.

    For quite a number of occasions, I had to have lunch with the children in the room with the other teacher (who also did not leave the room once throughout the day!) but there were no complaints and it was challenging, but at the end of the, it was good.

    So among the other questions, is, was it a question of: 

    1) The children adult ratio and whether that affects the entire classroom mood?

    2) The compatibility of the teacher's temperament to the children's temperament?

    3) Does staffing ratio affects a teacher's temperament and ability to manage the classroom?
    Say if the teacher had a "sanguine phlegmatic" temperament vs a "choleric melancholic" temperament in a room of 25 children : 2 adult vs 25 children: 4 adults. What would the outcome be?

    WHAT I Like About the Centre Today

    Still however, what I really like about the centre I went today, is that the staff do not have the type of "high expectations" of casual relief Early Childhood Teachers that come in to the room.

    I also liked the fact that the group leader had a lovely way of relating to the children. If not wrong, I could almost readily assume she had a "sanguine phlegmatic" temperament, and not once did she even lose her temper.

    When she was reading a book at group time, one of the younger preschoolers came up to her and gave her a hug. She told him to sit down and join the rest of the group, but she did not once lose her temper with the children, which was really lovely to see.

    I gave P and X a hug before I left. I really hope to meet more staff like them in future. ^^

    Saturday, July 31, 2010

    Reflections: The Different "Asian" Teacher Personalities.

    Even in working with other teachers of asian descent in childcare centres, I have met a wide range of teacher personalities.

    With regard to those from Singapore and Malaysia, versus China, Japan, and South Korea. I have realised that the teachers possess different needs based on two factors, mainly the language needs and temperament factor

    Language/ Communication Need
    The first difference is the language/ communication need. I have observed from my time in different centres that for where teachers whose English is not spoken as the first language, or much at all, they are not so 'pedantic' about the application of textbook manual instruction verbatim.

    The study of early childhood pedagogy in the english language is no mean task, and requires certain fluency to handle the teaching instruction.

    Further compounded also by the differences in culture, it will take a while for a teacher to get acquainted and used to a foreign classroom, before being able to prepare a contextually appropriate classroom programme.

    A teacher's temperament also comes into play, in how teachers view their teaching instruction.

    The Temperament Factor
    Have you heard of the Humors, the four different temperament types namely, Choleric, Phlegmatic, Melancholic, Sanguine?

    There were teachers I were able to get along due to their easygoing personality (sanguine choleric temperament), but there were some who were just downright testy to get along with (choleric melancholic temperament).

    When I say downright testy, this means that they really need to pass a comment on about almost every single .. almost as if they require perfection, when it is not necessary.

    I really do work better with a Sanguine Choleric.

    Recently I've had to work with a teacher (who I supposed could be of Choleric Melancholic temperament ) who could not resist giving her perspective on every single thing that I did.

    It was okay getting along with her, but having had to listen almost every hour of the day on her feedback was a bit too much to bear...! Oh dear. Perhaps her centre really urgently required a staff to come in, hence the urgency in all that.

    I am relieved that the centre managed to find someone to come in.. in all things regard, for teachers of this personality type, it is better to be friends than workmates.. else I'll never hear the end of it!

    Agent E strikes again!

    So today my agent called me. At 10am!

    Why did I wake up so late? Coz I was not supposed to be working today, and hence I slept late last night. 

    The first thing the consultant said was 'are you aware that you were supposed to be at xx centre 8.30am this morning?'

    Well, Ms.Smartie Pants, I refuse to be non-plussed by your agency. I don't care if you are paying my wages, but that is not how you should treat your candidates!

    Let me state the reasons for these..

    1. I was not informed that I was supposed to go in. I normally receive a formal text message from the agent.

    I was a bit surprised to hear that as I was definitely not informed to go into to any particular centre .. not to mention the fact that the agent is not going to cover my transportation fees EVER if the centre cancels my shifts!At least this is my past experience with this this particular Agent E in the last two months!

    2. When I arrived at the centre, I was informed by the group leader that they only only confirmed the decision to bring in a casual today. So what was the whole hissy fit about, excuse me??

    So, don't try to put a fast one on me, thank you very much!

    Monday, July 26, 2010

    Demonstrating Initiative as a Casual Staff.

    So last week, I completed two days at a childcare centre near Ashfield.

    The group leader, YL is a singaporean chinese who married an Anglo Australian, with three children.

    To provide some background info about this lady, she is in her mid 50, but doesn't look it. She has three children, and has been in travelling and married for 20 over years with her husband. She was personally working as a manager in Quality Control in Singapore until she moved over to Australia.

    Among some of the feedback that she provided for aspiring staff who would like to look for more permanent work at centre when on casual assignments include:

    1. Initiative- 
    Casual staff need to take and demonstrate take more initiative in the classrooms- According to YL, it was the little things that counts, that make or break the chances of securing a job offer from the Management. 

    2. Need to demonstrate flexibility.
    As in when casual staff have been instructed to perform a duty and a parent comes in to speak to them, they should leave whichever work they are doing and instead attend to the children. I.e take over group time, or whatever duties that could keep the children's attention and keep them away from trouble!

    Taking care of the children are more important during these times! This is more essential and important in centres that are not able to employ above the child adult ratio, or have limited funding for employment of staff to come in for ratio purposes. Yes, this happens in countries with strict child adult ratios in the classrooms.

    3. Use more 'teaching language'. 
    - Perhaps that this teacher possess a more thorough personality (as per her previous work as a manager in Quality Control!). Hence, she was particularly insistent on this in her teaching methodology.

    Although I do believe it'd be good to use 'teaching language" if not just to keep the children's attention and keep them thinking, but also to demonstrate one's skills as a trained staff. I do agree that it is important to be trained in the arts of "teaching language" but more important is when to use it, and not to over do it.

    In summary, a teaching qualification is important.

    But the above aspects are just as important when one is out looking for more permanent work. If not important, are ESSENTIAL!

    Sadly, these sort of things are not taught in the textbooks, but rather, are picked up along the way as one goes to work, and hopefully, well.. they learn!

    Tuesday, July 20, 2010

    Rebound from winter flu!

    So today, I called my employer (Agency E) that I was ready to return to work... after my long extended winter illness.

    Actually I had already emailed them, but I wasn't sure if they had already received my note, so a call was much more reassuring.

    I am not really sure how many casual assignments are available in winter, but I do know that many people do catch the flu in winter.

    Among the good news is that Agency E had officially sent a note to all their Early Childhood Teachers pay rate will be standardised to the normal Early Childhood Teacher industry rate! All four and three year trained teachers will be paid the same rates regardless of the number of years they have worked.

    In a way it is good for all the Early Childhood Teachers, but from the view of work availability, it could mean less work, since it means that the fees for centres would have gone up, if it had not already.

    Perhaps companies initially lower their fees, and having established a relationship, they decide to revert to industry rate?

    I guess it now depends on the childcare centres whether they would like to continue this "relationship" with their staffing agencies, with all things being now.

    Wednesday, July 07, 2010

    Hit by Flu.

    Yeah, I am sick. Been down with the symptoms of the flu for the past three weeks, but it only seriously hit me on Friday last week.

    Right after I completed one of my assignments. Been bed-ridden since Monday.. not a good thing.

    Winter and flu. Comes together like horse and carriage. Hmmm.

    Sunday, June 27, 2010

    Reflections on my first Australian Montessori school visit.

    So this morning I did managed to make my visit to the Forestville Montessori School, as it had an Open Day. I almost did not make it as I woke up late. There are not many buses that run from the city to Forestville, so getting there also took a while. But anyways, I managed to make my way there. 

    I am sure you're wondering excitedly how the school was?

    The school, without any doubt, is a school that subscribes fully to Montessori principles. Apparently, as I later found out, the centre is also an outsourced AMI training centre, where local students who want to enrol in Montessori courses can do it there.

    The 3 Year Cycle
    The school strictly follows the three-year cycle as written by Montessori, and the enrolment of the children starts around the age of three. It would prove a difficult task for students who have never started in a montessori school from the younger age to be able to move up to the older classes, as Montessori schools have their own set curriculum.

    The classes are divided into the three year cycle where students are enrolled from the age of three onwards.

    Cycle 1: 3-6 years.
    Cycle 2: 6-9 years.
    Cycle 3: 9-12 years

    At the end of any cycle, the parents are allowed to withdraw their children, and they may enrol in a normal public/private school of their choice.

    State Regulations
    In the case of most montessori preschools/kindergarten that are attached to a primary school, children in the Cycle 1 years fall under two different assessing and education boards.

    In NSW, for the children that falls between the ages of 0- 5 years, that would be the Department of Community Services (DOCS), and for children aged 6 years and above, this would fall under the normal primary schools that falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Education.

    Hence, I believe the same legislation applies too for any other Montessori school that is attached to an elementary school.

    As for how the Montessori schools can meet the National Curriculum, check out this link here from the Montessori Australia website.

    My Impressions
    It was a first for me to visit a fully Montessori preschool + elementary school. It was most definitely an exciting experience, as in Malaysia, we may have Montessori preschools, but not anything beyond that age group.

    Further, in Malaysia, children start school at age 7, so if Malaysian preschools wanted to implement a Cycle 1 (three years) it may likely be possible. The difficulty being that there would b no continuity into Cycle 2 or 3 in the later years. 

    One of the administrators brought me around the school, for I was looking a little lost in the huge area of the school. She was really friendly and warm!

    I observed that in regards to the population of the school, it seemed to be the size of three houses put together, so you can gather that the school population is almost like a close knit big family. 

    I did mention to the administrator that I had done my montessori training under the UK umbrella (Montessori Centre International) and was wondering how different it was compared to AMI (Association Montessori Internationale), to which, she said the most interesting thing...

    That regardless of where one does their training, what matters most is that the student gets the heart of the philosophy was. Which was comforting to hear.

    Montessori Certification 
    I get the general idea that montessori schools that are attached to a primary school, may run on a similar platform. For schools that do run on the three year cycle, especially those which are attached to a primary school, where AMI's certification courses would be more relevant as it would cater for the 3 year cycle.

    My understanding is that as many principals in Australia are trained under AMI, they therefore are familiar with the AMI, having gone through the training. As human nature would state, most principals will need some, or may want to some of the information background of the examination board/background/type of assessment done when looking at transcripts/teaching credentials as they want to be careful when hiring a teacher onboard. 

    As MCI's certification is for children 2.5 -6 years, it may probably make more sense in Malaysia, or other types of montessori centres that are not attached to a primary school, since for the most part, children do enter primary school  at 6 years.

    I really doubt I'd pay 12,000AUD just to redo a Montessori course, when I have already graduated from one. Yes, and the MCI International Diploma is no doubt recognised in the UK and other parts of the world.

    and yes, if you are wondering again, ALL teachers in Australia still need their 4 year degree in order to be a registered teacher whether at public/private/religious schools. And if heading to a montessori school, the necessary Montessori credentials on top of it!

    Friday, June 25, 2010

    Abortion is illegal in Malaysia.

    In Malaysia, it is currently illegal for a woman to have an abortion. For young women in their late teens who get pregnant, most just get married to the boy (forcibly by the woman's family), or have an abortion.

    For the record, I do not support Abortion.

    However, in the case of Malaysia, I would vote to have abortion legalised. There currently really is no support for teenage pregnant mothers here, or an asylum for these mothers to have any kind of mental support, or counselling like they have in western countries.

    The support system really does not exist, and being a typical "conservative" thinking, a young girl who is pregnant does and is not able to get much support from the society as a whole.. she may even be "denounced" by her family for bringing shame to the family...

    Even if they choose to have the baby, it is not a common practice for most other asian couples to be adopting babies. I have a cousin who adopted a baby, but that was after she had tried for 10 years, and she was in the States, where it was a more common practice, and she adopted a child from China.

    In order to keep abortion illegal, there must already be in existence, be a support system, or family planning system in place for these young women, as well as an asylum for these pregnant mothers, as well for their born children to go to should they decide to give birth to the baby, but not keep it.

    Malaysia still has a long way to go...

    Gianna Jessen Abortion Survivor in Australia Part 2

    Part 2 of Gianna Jessens's testimony as an Abortion Survivor..

    Gianna Jessen Abortion Survivor in Australia Part 1

    I found these videos when I was surfing the Internet today...

    Gianna Jessen is an Abortion survivor. In Australia, and in many countries around the world, abortion is becoming legalised...

    Thursday, June 24, 2010

    Some Key Issues Identified So Far...

    I was trying to source for information for teachers who work in through casual employment, as well the complexities of supporting Asian international pre-service teachers as they undertake practicum  in Australia.

    The two articles from the journal would cost 60AUD, which would cost too much for anyone to pay anyways, but it is helpful to know that such issues does arise, and I'm happy to know that these problems were not uncommon.

    I particularly like how the abstract of both the articles above as follows:

    Teaching Staff in Casual Employment...
    "The Educational Alumni Support Project (EdASP) indicated that there is an urgent need for the teaching profession to support casual beginning teachers (CBTs). The EdASP that was carried out at the University of New England provided online support for primary and secondary beginning teachers, yet the majority of postings were submitted by CBTs.

    In general, these casual teachers experienced feelings of alienation, culture shock, a lack of school and systemic support, and are often not considered part of the school community by staff or students. The analysis of postings by CBTs provides further insight into the difficulties they face, as well as reveals or reinforces strategies that could effectively facilitate their teaching.

    Many of these findings are not new, yet the call to aid casuals continues to be overlooked. This need for support is both professional and pragmatic.

    Ethically, education - a nurturing profession - should support its novices. In addition, the transition period from pre-service to professional teacher has significant implications for teacher educators plus the potential retention of teachers."


    Complexity of supporting Asian international pre-service teachers..

    Increasing numbers of Asian international students are choosing to undertake their tertiary studies in English-speaking countries. For universities, international students are an important source of revenue. However, Asian international students face multiple challenges in adapting to a foreign culture, understanding the expectations of their role, and adjusting to language, communication and cultural differences.

    These challenges are manifested, in particular, during practicum or field experience. This paper investigated the concerns of twenty Asian pre-service teachers before and after their practicum in Australian schools by drawing upon data from focus group interviews.

    Although language barriers and cultural differences were identified concerns before the practicum, concerns about their relationship with their supervising teachers and the limited time in which they had to learn also emerged after the practicum.

    Whilst the findings are limited to the present study, implications for supporting Asian international pre-service teachers during practicum are discussed."

    The abstractly sweetly summarizes the issues and problems that I have identified in my blog entries so far...

    Open Day @ Forestville Montessori School

    This Saturday the Forestville Montessori School is having their Open Day.

    10AM – 2PM
    Infant Community (3mths - 3yrs), Pre School (3 - 6yrs)
    & Primary (6 - 12yrs) 1 Angel Place, Forestville 2087

    Secondary Campus
    3 Myoora Road, Terrrey Hills 2084
    This is a great opportunity to visit our classrooms and talk to the directors about our programme.
    www.forestvillemontessori.nsw.edu.au ph 9452-2044

    The Forestville Montessori School was established in 1981 by the Peninsula Montessori Association Ltd. It is accredited by both the Department of Community Services and The Department of Education. The programme offered is child-oriented and follows the development of the child according to the Montessori Philosophy. All staff hold traditional and Montessori teaching qualifications. A full Montessori programme is offered for 3 - 6, 6 - 9 and 9 - 12 age groups as well as an Infant Community and After School programme. The school's beautiful premises are located in Forestville, a leafy suburb on Sydney's northern peninsula.

    "Education should no longer be mostly imparting of knowledge, but must take a new path, seeking the release of human potentialities." Dr. Maria Montessori

    Note To Self
    The centre is a bit far away from where I am staying, but I'll be heading there to have a visit, since they are having an Open Day anyways.

    Staffing Agencies: Pros and Cons.

    I'm in the midst of wanting to look for more consistent work in the same place.

    Among the pros in working for a staffing agency is that we get to try/see different kind of childcare centres, be it Council owned, private, not-for-profit, and hopefully, the occasional purely Montessori centre (which has yet to happen in Sydney anyways, nor with any of my current agencies)..

    In doing that, we learn a bit more about the different types of childcare centres, and in the process, are able to make more informed decisions on whether we want to work in those centres, or the kind of facilities available at the different kind of centres.

    However, I've come to understand better that as the cost of bringing in temporary contractors from staffing agencies is high (and expensive!), most centres try to make use of their current staff, or always opt for a cheaper option, whenever possible.

    Through discussions with other staff in the same field, I've come to learn that by applying for work under a network that directly manages (meaning, a childcare centre that comes under a similar network, or franchise), it is much more cost effective, and therefore less expensive, and more consistent in terms of the areas/centres where casual work is concerned.

    However, the complication lies whereby when an agency sends in a temporary/contractor to a centre (or their clients), and if the centre would like to offer employment, whether directly/indirectly or through a third-party, the client is still liable to pay a "commission" to the agency.

    This would be good in a situation should the contractor were looking for a permanent position, however, for most of us, may have other priorities in hand, and a permanent full time/ permanent part time may be the last thing for our mind, and I seriously believe that no centre will pay a hefty fee for a contractor who is looking at working only for casual hours.  

    Where a pool of childcare staff is available through in a joint venture agreement or arrangement, it is much more cost effective by way of where the Management does not have to pay apart from the award + loading/penalty fees, they do not have to pay further outsourcing fees, hence making it cheaper for the centres.  Correct me if I am wrong, but that is at least what I am aware of.

    Casual Relief work is good, however, I would like to have a bit more familiarity with the centres I would work at. It would look better on my resume in the long term nonetheless, not to mention better for my mental psyche, as well as the advantage of creating more intimate relationships (hopefully without the politics!) with the children and their families.....

    So anyways, I'm now in the midst of checking out the different types joint-venture agreement/arrangment type centres, as well as other Montessori childcare centres, since I am trained in that field. Where do you think the web address of my blog came from then?

    Tuesday, June 22, 2010

    Remember to keep it COOL!

    One of the things I always try to keep in mind when I go in for a casual/relief assignment is to not let the little things/gestures of the first person, which may/would normally be the Director I meet at a centre to aggravate/upset my state of mind for the rest of the afternoon. 

    Perhaps some people get upset, or are sensitive to a number of things. But as I have learnt from watching my dad (yes, even my dad!).

    Being the owner and manager of a business, he learnt to ignore irrelevant gestures/comments and just disregards it. Sometimes he just warns us off with a look, or a comment, or just tells his staff off verbally when they start to panic/whinge/etc.

    I really think it is a good skill to learn. Just learn to ignore irrelevent comments and just go in and do whatever work that one has been assigned to set out to do.

    And seriously, being a teacher, we have to learn that skill. I had observed recently, a dear friend of mine, who works as a language teacher, and gets easily emotionally upset at the little antics of some students when she is teaching... and they're students who are in their late 20s!

    Perhaps she may not have had students who have tried her patience much... I've had children who have bitten me and tore my sleeves/skirt/etc (and they aren't autistic, mine you!), starting running around the class in the middle of a lesson, and etc.... she can't beat that...!

    Sometimes these gestures/words may have been said out of frustration, say when the manager has had a really bad day, or maybe she is just is like that, or when some students (who at the age of 28) may still try to be cheeky.  *Tsk tsk tsk*

    But Always Always try to remember to keep it cool, and don't let it get the better of you! You'll feel much more in control, and better at the end of it. ^^

    Tuesday, June 15, 2010

    Pay rate for Early Childhood Teachers (ECT)

    As ECTs are rare as Diploma qualified staff abound, I am and is always happy to meet another ECT. Our conversations are always towards amiable should our circumstances be similar in that aspect.

    Recently, I did meet one in her early forties. She is Australian-Greek, and is working for a centre part time (three days) and the other two days, she works casual for an agent (not the same as mine).

    For someone in her forties, she noted that she was fine with working three days a week, as having to work a 5 day week was much too tiring.

    However she did noted to me that casual ECTs should earn at least AUD34/hour minimum.

    She earned her degree in the same year as I did (2008), but was working as a Diploma qualified prior to that. Stating that we (ECTs) don't spend two to three extra years at university waiting on a degree to earn peanuts;

    for as working permanent part-time for a non-for-profit childcare centre as an ECT, she earns about $30, in which case, she stated that I should think of looking for an employer which pays on a similar level.

    Some thoughts are running through my mind now. To say, I must mention that perhaps it is also dependent on the number of years we have worked, as there are many contributing factors.

    I must however add too that when one starts out as a fresh graduate, it is perfectly fine to be paid a lower salary. However, as we gain confidence in our skills, our salary should commensurate, and looking for an employer that pays appropriately should take priority in those circumstances.

    As the chinese proverb says, "wool grows on a sheep" (羊毛出在羊身上), there are expectations to be met when one's earning is of a certain threshold, and hopefully we would have the ability to take it in stride.

    Sunday, June 13, 2010

    Return to Relief Childcare Work.

    Well, so I went to work this week.

    It was for two assignments this week, one being a four-hour assignment in Ashfield, and another for a 7.45 hour assignment in Leichhardt.

    I found out that apparently these days, lunch breaks are no longer paid for even as a permanent staff. But two to three years ago, that was possibly still possible before the economic crises, I guess?

    So how did the work go?

    For both assignments, I was working with children in the two to three years age group. It was a surprise for me as I expected either pre-school age, or nursery age group for both, but it came down to be of the same age group for both assignments. 

    I was informed by my agent that my performance was marvellous in the first centre. In the second centre, the centre's permanent staff also informed that she was really happy that I was able to follow her "hints" and "directions", hence management of the class was though tiring, we were able to co-operate and work well together as a team. 


    I really have to state that after being away from the childcare work for almost 18 months, I am quite happy to see that my skills have not deteriorated that much.

    Of course, the fact that I kept notes during my one year as a casual relief staff helped a lot. Re-reading my written notes (which I kept in an notebook) helped me to refresh my mind on
    • classroom management skills. 
    • the ability to work well with other centre support staff in managing the children's behaviour.
    • appropriate age related skills 
    • preparing in my mind to prepare the activities relevant to each age group
    • spacing my strength and energy to work with children
    • taking care of my voice when working with children.
    Before going out to work this time, I headed over to Basement Books (in Sydney CENTRAL area) to purchase story books. The books in Basement Books were quite cheap, as compared to some of the upper priced shops around town. I would believe that perhaps TAFE may have some resources, but I have yet to visit it.

    Maintaining My Voice
    At the end of my second assignment with the preschool children, (2-3 year olds), I realised that I almost had no voice left. So indeed, drinking a lot of water, my larynx moisturised, and especially in the winter, was of utmost importance to any teacher. Also, I had to continually reapply lip gloss, as it just became terribly dry and cracked.

    Sunday, June 06, 2010

    Australia: Working With Children Check.

    Recently, as you may have known, I went back to see my previous Childcare Agent.

    Among the more important documentation that I had to fill in was the NSW Work With Children Check.

    Now, if you have been following my adventures on childcare in Australia, you'd have known that the Work With Children Check are among the more important procedures that every person who wants to be engaged whether in voluntary or paid employment in any childcare related industry has to undertake before they can be legally released and approved to work with children.

    As it has been more than 12 months since I've been inactive from my employment, I have to complete a redo of the Work With Children Check. The best thing about doing it in NSW is that the entire procedure is FREE, but it is payable in states like Victoria, and Queensland (starting from AUD70). However, it can be used immediately when one is in a lack of time!

    Here is a recent February 2010 report that I found that describes the Pre-Employement Screening & Police Checks of all the different states in Australia. It is published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies. You may also download here for printing purposes.

    It would take within 10 working days for the Work With Children Check results to get back to Childcare Agency. Till then, I'd just be sourcing for my teaching resources.. (and going for my facials ^^ )

    Wednesday, June 02, 2010

    Australia: Back to Childcare.

    As most may know (if you have not been following my blogs, what have you been doing eh?), I am back now in Sydney.

    So yes, I've been back here for almost a month. Mostly just rusting at home, preparing my application to TAFE. Yes, I've decided to put my grey cells to work by taking a course at TAFE. I've since put in my application, but only the lecturer assessing my portfolio will decide how well my application goes. It took two weeks for me to prepare my portfolio, and since I do not have any official letter from my employer in KL in relation to my course, the portfolio was necessary.

    Anyways, as I had bought a 7-Day Rail City ticket this week, I decided to make full use of it and meet my previous employer, Agent E, to re-activate my "employment account" with them. With more than two months to go till studies at TAFE starts, staying and rusting at home is not exactly the best thing to do.

    This entry serves to help those who are in a similar situation like me, who have previously worked for a childcare agency and left for a while. Of course, I am worried as its been more than 18 months since I've been away. But anyways, here's what happened.

    When I was in the office, I had to fill in some forms. They were:
    • Working With Children Check (it's just filling a form, so that was really easy. But proof of identity with Passport, or Driving Licence is required.). 
    • Filling in the employment application form with the latest details (bank details, latest home details).
    • Tax File Number information. 
    • Nominating a Superannuation Fund (which I can choose) 
    Anyways, Casual Staff Manager informed me that apart from the above documentations, I did not really have to do the test (yes, there are about two case study tests for Diploma & ECT qualified applicants to fill in) and two references, as I had worked for Agent E prior to this.

    I believe they would try to get my case in soonest possible, as you would have to understand that Agencies make their commission from the casual employees that they send out. Agency staff would try their hardest to ensure that the staff that they send out perform well, improve our performance, as highly qualified (and experienced) staff in childcare are hard to come by.

    The Agency is also linked to a training centre, but she told me that as I was already "highly qualified" there was not much that the training centre could do for me. For as far as childcare qualifications went, the three- year degree was the highest.. even recertifying my first-aid certificate had to be done at an institution like St. John's.

    Oh well.

    The Manager in charge of Casual Staff did ask me how soon could I start work?

    Of which, I then informed her that I had to take time to source for teaching materials as I could not just waltz in, or "rock in" (as they call it) to a childcare centre unprepared. "I need to show some standard for my level, you know".

    I told her that I would contact them when the necessary preparations were done. She just nodded her head.

    Roles of a Coordinator in a Children's Services setting.

    An Early Childhood Teacher is normally qualified to hold the position as Co-Ordinator... the roles & responsibilities as defined by NSW Industrial Relations are as follows for a Coordinator in most Children's Services settings. 

    Qualified means a qualified carer who holds the Diploma in Children’s Services, an Associate
    Diploma in Social Science (Child Studies) from TAFE or equivalent qualifications which are recognised under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 as amended, and who is appointed by the employer to co-ordinate, administer and manage a service. An employee at this level is required to perform the following duties:
    • be accountable to the employer for the administration of the Service;
    • co-ordinate and manage the day-to-day operations of the service;
    • manage staff through liaison and consultation with the employer;
    • oversee and ensure the maintenance and implementation of a healthy, safe and clean environment for staff and children;
    • ensure day-to-day administrative tasks are completed appropriately, including requirements for funding and licensing;
    • ensure the Service adheres to all relevant regulations and licensing guidelines;
    • ensure all appropriate records are maintained;
    • liaise with and consult with parents regarding the needs of the children and the community;
    • liaise with management to ensure that all matters and procedures relating to government funding are complied with in accordance with appropriate guidelines and, where applicable, submissions for funding to relevant authorities are made and funds applied in accordance with the relevant guidelines and approvals;
    • assist with the preparation of budgets in consultation with the employer, making appropriate recommendations and manage service financial responsibilities within approved levels;
    • attend meetings as required by the employer consistent with position responsibilities.
     In addition an employee may be required to perform some or all of the following duties:
    acts as Authorised Supervisor in accordance with the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 as amended, where required by the employer;
    • develop, implement and evaluate Service policies and procedures and ensure these and licensing conditions are met in consultation with the employer;
    • prepare and present reports regarding service issues;
    • develop goals and directions for the service in consultation with staff and management in line with early childhood policy and practice;
    • ensure that government guidelines on priority access to services are adhered to;
    • other duties as required by the employer which are within the knowledge, skills and capabilities of the carer, including duties at a lower classification; provided that this does not promote de skilling.

      An employee at this level is required to possess and maintain a current first aid certificate recognised under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 as amended, and administer first aid as required."
     Woah. That sure is a lot of roles, and responsibilities, isn't it? ^^

      Australia: Regulation of ECTs by ECE settings, state and territory

      Here is an extract from Dr Louise Watson report in the DEEWR website.

      There is no national consistency in the requirement for qualified early childhood teachers at the pre-school level (4 year-olds). This varies by jurisdiction, and can be influenced by the type of provider and which set of regulations they come under.

      Child care services are regulated by different government departments within each jurisdiction – in some states these are education departments, but more often, they are departments of family and community services.

      For example, in most states when 4 year-olds attend a childcare centre, their program will be delivered primarily by childcare employees holding a VET Certificate in Children’s Services and possibly designed by an employee who holds a Diploma of Children’s Services.

      In some jurisdictions (eg. Queensland), the director of a large childcare service must have a 3-year degree in Early Childhood Education or an Advanced Diploma in Children’s Services. But in other jurisdictions, it is acceptable for the Director of a childcare service to have a nursing degree. In New South Wales, childcare centres are required to employ a teaching staff member (who must have a Degree or Diploma in Early Childhood Education) for groups of 30-40 children over the age of two.

      Within jurisdictions, pre-school provision can be a mix of government-operated pre-schools, private and community-based pre-schools and childcare centres (community-based or privately owned). While government-operated pre-schools usually come under the jurisdiction of an Education Department, other pre-school providers, such as childcare centres or early learning centres will be governed by children’s services legislation (which in many states is implemented by a family and community services agency, rather than an education department).

      Thus 4 year-olds attending a government-run pre-school (ie, administered by an Education Department) are likely to be taught by an Early Childhood teacher with a 3 or 4-year Bachelor’s degree (with the help of an assistant).

      In the ACT, for example, where all pre-schools are government-operated, children in pre-schools are taught by a qualified pre-school teacher whereas 4-year-olds in childcare centres fall under different legislation which does not mandate the qualifications of staff above VET Diploma level.

      A privately-owned pre-school might also employ a qualified Early Childhood teacher, but would not be obliged to do so, if it is registered as a childcare facility under children’s services legislation.

      A further complication is that in some jurisdictions non-government pre-schools may receive subsidies from State Education Departments and the receipt of this funding can involve meeting minimum qualification requirements – even though the pre-school would be registered under childcare legislation.

      Confusing, eh? I'm still trying to figure it all out too.... ^^

      Wednesday, March 31, 2010

      Language Learning Strategies.

      As I am currently taking up Korean at ICLS (a language school in Malaysia), many of these strategies will come useful as crunch-time heads on in the next three weeks with my language assessment in two weeks from now!

      Many of these ideas were posted on FLTEACH. The original list is from the Spanish Department at the University of Kansas.• Make flashcards.
      • Repeat aloud.
      • Don't be afraid to make mistakes.
      • Speak to others in French (Spanish/German.)
      • Watch French (Spanish/German) television programs on cable TV.
      • Praise yourself for your efforts.
      • Listen to lab tapes.
      • Don't wait for the teacher to evaluate your progress.
      • Go to a French (Spanish/German) restaurant and order in the target language.
      • Eavesdrop on people speaking French (Spanish/German.)
      • Don't make excuses.
      • Name objects in French (Spanish/German.)
      • Relax before going to class and before studying.
      • Don't worry about your age or aptitude.
      • Talk to yourself in French (Spanish/German.)
      • Try not to translate from French (Spanish/German) to English in your head.
      • Practice speaking French (Spanish/German) with friends.
      • Form a study group with classmates.
      • Review class notes.
      • Reward your successes.
      • Guess when in doubt.
      • Re-write class notes.
      • Record new vocabulary and grammar in a notebook.
      • Make review cards grouping verbs, nouns, etc.
      • Don't pretend to understand when you really don't.
      • Paraphrase when necessary.
      • Listen to French (Spanish/German) radio.
      • Rent French (Spanish/German) videos and watch them.
      • Stay alert; don't "zone out" in class.
      • Hang in there; be persistent.
      • Read ahead in the book.
      • Use mime and gestures.
      • Write down words that you don't know, then find out what they mean.
      • Keep a language diary.
      • Keep your expectations realistic.
      • Practice daily.
      • Make corrections in class when reviewing homework.
      • Memorize using images, sounds, rhymes (mnemonic devices.)
      • Attend class.
      • Teach someone what you have learned.
      • Be assertive in class.
      • Participate in group activities in class.
      • Use cognates for association with English.
      • Have a positive attitude towards class and the language.
      • Read French (Spanish/German) newspapers on the Internet.
      • Use what you learn.
      • Make study sheets.
      • Do homework.
      • Review the day's lesson after class.
      • Try not to use the dictionary too much.
      • Ask for help when you need it.

      Additional resources
      • Tips on Studying
      • Learning Style and Foreign Language Learning
      • Concepts of Foreign Languages

       Copyright © 1999, 2000 Beverly Larson. All rights reserved.

      NCLRC ORG. Extracts are taken from: http://www.nclrc.org/essentials/speaking/stratspeak.htm)

      1. Using minimal responses
      Language learners who lack confidence in their ability to participate successfully in oral interaction often listen in silence while others do the talking. One way to encourage such learners to begin to participate is to help them build up a stock of minimal responses that they can use in different types of exchanges. Such responses can be especially useful for beginners.

      Minimal responses are predictable, often idiomatic phrases that conversation participants use to indicate understanding, agreement, doubt, and other responses to what another speaker is saying. Having a stock of such responses enables a learner to focus on what the other participant is saying, without having to simultaneously plan a response.

      2. Recognizing scripts
      Some communication situations are associated with a predictable set of spoken exchanges -- a script. Greetings, apologies, compliments, invitations, and other functions that are influenced by social and cultural norms often follow patterns or scripts. So do the transactional exchanges involved in activities such as obtaining information and making a purchase. In these scripts, the relationship between a speaker's turn and the one that follows it can often be anticipated.

      Instructors can help students develop speaking ability by making them aware of the scripts for different situations so that they can predict what they will hear and what they will need to say in response. Through interactive activities, instructors can give students practice in managing and varying the language that different scripts contain.

      Wednesday, February 03, 2010

      The Playground: Play in developing Social Skill Awareness.

      This article Playground describes some of the reasons why kids get bullied and rejected in skills.

      As many will know, those who study play in early childhood studies will know that those early skills in the playground are actually essential, and an indicator to an individual's social skills when they are adults.

      (will write more on this later...).

      Monday, January 25, 2010

      Amazing News: 7 Year Old raises £50,000!

      According to this news report, this young boy, Charlie Fulham from the UK has raised over £50,000 for the earthquake victims in Haiti.

      "Initially only wanting to raise £500, but as news of his challenge spread pledges flooded into his appeal", SKY NEWS reports.

      Truly amazing.

      I wonder if something similar will happen on Malaysian grounds.

      Friday, January 22, 2010

      South Korea: High school students come home at 11pm.

      When I was in South Korea recently, the schools were having their holidays.

      My friend's niece is 13 (Gregorian Calendar) this year, and has just entered Middle School (Junior High). Yet, the holidays is not really a holiday. I was informed that she has to spend at least three hours each day "learning" something. Be it from online learning, or practising the piano, or even Japanese.

      It is not that I am against "learning" or "studying", but I am wondering if students there are actually able to apply what they have learnt?

      Students stay as late as 10 o'clock most nights for whatever reason it is at school. This I hear too, from the boarding master at the backpackers I was lodging in Seoul . He said it was the norm during his schooling years (he's 27 now). High school students go to school at 6am, and they arrive home at 11pm??

      His best friends are the ones he spend the whole day in school at.


      Have you ever watched the Korean Drama "Delightful Girl Choon Hyang"? The drama starts with students in the high school level.

      When I first watched the drama about two years back, they actually have students still in school at around 9 to 10 o'clock. I wondered, who in their right mind would allow their children to be at school at this hour?

      Apparently that is the norm in South Korea. 

      Related Links:
      Education in South Korea.

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