Wednesday, April 09, 2008

An Early Childhood Teacher at work.

It could mean coming into a room of children & just taking control. Or even at a cafe. There are many factors that enable a person to be able to come in to take control. A huge factor is to do with the person's personality as demonstrated by my flatmate, Titi, who works in a cafe but possesses a rather "choleric" personality.

Titi is Indonesian & has horrible English grammar, but the moment she steps into a restaurant, she starts ordering people around & everyone else listens to her. Even the Australian white locals take their orders from her! When she has toothache & walks into the dentist's office without making an appointment, even the dentist acquieses to her to avoid trouble. No one dares to upset her when she is in the house!

To illustrate a point about this in childcare, I'd like to share what happened at work today. The centre that I am currently based for this week only takes in ECT casuals, (in other words, degree-qualified casuals). It was "over-booked", meaning there were too many casuals that were booked in. The scenario that took place was that Agent C had booked me in to go to the centre but they did not receive any email confirmation from them to confirm that I was going in. However the centre still kept me in.

What happened was that instead of asking me to go home, I took turns being a "floater staff" in both the toddler & pre-school rooms to enable the Group Leader, Nikki & Michelle to do their programming. Floater staff are basically staff that float around to relieve staff according to the adult: children ratio needed as per the childcare legislations. I.e. when there are more children than normal, and there is not enough staff around, or staff that relieves the main skeleton staff when they go off for lunch or have to do their curriculum-programming. (Granted, we don't have this in Malaysia or most asian countries if you're wondering!)

Today there were two other casual ECTs from two different childcare staffing agencies, apart from mine. From my observations, I would say they were both much older women in their late 40s (not thirties, mind you). As this is actually my first time in contact with other ECTs, it was a great learning experience for me to watch how other more experienced ECT casuals work as well. In my weeks of doing my casual work, I have actually had not had the opportunity to be able to work with staff of ECT level, but mostly the group leaders and assistants. (which in other words are the diploma & certificate qualified staff).

In the centre I am based now, I am pretty much the only asian casual staff which I'm not too fussed about. I could tell that these ECTs had been to this centre much as they addressed the children by their names and they were quite experienced as they used a lot of behaviour management strategies which I had not seen used yet. What I like most about the class is that they came in and just took control of the children, which is an area that I am trying to strengthen, regardless of whether it is with children or adults. Or even animals!

What I believe is that I think that these two ECTs demonstrate much choleric traits compared to the other staff I have seen in the centre. It is just something I perceived. Reflecting on it, I remember an incident that took place last year when I was back in KL for Chinese New Year festival & I had gone to my uncle's home for visitations. It was a really hot & sunny day, and I was rather cranky & had a really bad tummy upset. Anyways, when my family left the car to enter my uncle's home, their pet dog was barking like mad. It seemed that everyone was afraid of the dog.

My crankiness must have shown through because the moment I looked at the dog, without a word I gave him such a stare that the dog just kept quiet & started whimpering. My mom who was behind me then asked me what did I do to the dog, to which I told her that I had not done anything but given him a stare. Later I went to the dog & tried to be friendly with it. As you could guess, my personality does not fall under the "choleric" category although I do demonstrate some of these traits as my entire family members are ALL choleric!

In conclusion, I believe that learning to take control of an audience or group of "creatures" is a skill that can be self-taught regardless of their personality, although that does play a major role in helping a person to put out or take on an authoritative role in the group.

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