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Reflections Magazine : Reflections Magazine Issue 54
10 Another benefit of the change is simply that it is more aesthetically pleasing. It engenders a greater respect for the resources provided and it becomes a place where educators and children want to be. Educators benefit from understanding the importance of the physical environment and the difference it can make to children's behaviour. Overall it will improve our rating of National Quality Area 3 (ACECQA, 2013). Organisational culture and expectations of staff and teams The NQS will guide and support the required changes with its focus on a physical environment that is considered, meaningful and engaging. There was a need for a shift in the workplace culture and attitudes. The culture has gradually changed through the recruitment of passionate and motivated educators and teachers who share in the vision and importance of an engaging physical environment. Educators' expertise and interest in areas has contributed to a change in practice through the allocation of areas of responsibility to specific people. Overall an appreciation of care and respect for the environment as a whole is growing. Just as care of the indoor environment has been embedded in everyday practice, so the outdoor space and resources are being promoted as deserving the same respect. A clear vision and expectations of teachers and educators has been required, and continues to be important, followed by a transparent performance management process. The team is guided by the NQS, Regulations and clearly defined position descriptions which set out these expectations. Schrag, Nelson and Siminowsky (cited in Rodd, 2006) suggest six strategies to help staff cope with change. These strategies include communication, commitment, challenge, control, confidence and connection. It is essential that staff feel a sense of ownership to see the importance and reason for change. Professional learning As Centre Director, and in my capacity as a leader, I empower members of the team to be autonomous and thoughtful while in the workplace, so they remain passionate and responsible (Carter & Curtis, 2010). Professional learning opportunities have included: • Educators and teachers have engaged in professional learning sessions on how to set up engaging environments for children. • Educators have visited other centres in the community for ideas and discussions with peers on creating innovative inspiring 'wow' environments for children. • An ongoing supply of readings and textbooks on inspiring spaces for children from Australian and International publishers has been made available. • Reflection exercises have occurred with educators and teachers leading to 'inquiry' questions, and to seeing things from a child's perspective. Evaluation and celebrations Success, however small, needs to be celebrated and our Quality Improvement Plan has proved invaluable in documenting the journey we are on. Families, community members, educators and teachers have the opportunity to view and comment on our progress. Our success is measured in various ways: - when educators walk into a space and feel that they too want to play; - when children are engaged in experiences for lengths of time facilitated by educators using open ended questions; - when children's experiences are visible through meaningful authentic documentation of the learning that has occurred each day; - when families and community visitors recognise and comment on the environment and the engagement of children and educators. Providing an engaging and natural environment in a simulated outdoor environment is definitely a long and challenging journey. At the same time, it is an invigorating challenge that brings great rewards. There is no end to our learning journey, once we reach our vision, it will be time to reflect and look towards a new vision for the physical environment at Nanbaree Child Centre. References: Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (2013). http://www.acecqa.gov.au/Physical-environment Date accessed 7th July 2013. Carter, M and Curtis, D. (2010). The visionary director -- a handbook for dreaming, organizing and improvising in your center (2nd edition). United states of America: Redleaf Press. Rodd, J. (2006). Leadership in Early childhood (3rd edition). Sydney: Allen and Unwin.
Reflections Magazine Issue 53 Summer 2013
Reflections Magazine Issue 55 Winter 2014