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. ^^

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