5 tips for… High expectations and equity

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This principle is all about recognising everyone’s strengths but also being inclusive in your approaches. Here are 5 tips to help with this principle …

  1. Everyone is capable of greatness: This can sometimes be something that we forget when our expectations of everyone becomes a uniform approach that expects everyone to have the same strengths and abilities. Everyone has skills and something that they can offer and be amazing at, and it might not be documentation or running a group time. It might be arranging the environment, talking to families or keeping the team moral high. Valuing everyone for what they can bring to the service allows everyone to shine and feel encouraged to work harder as well as building a more equitable approach to what the role of an educator is.
  2. Avoid one size fits all approaches: If everyone is expected to do things the same way it restricts some people from being their best selves. It also means that there is a restriction on creativity and different approaches to tasks. Allowing all levels of the service (children, families, educators) to get involved in the curriculum in ways that allow them to feel supported and engaged is likely to lead to a more secure and collaborative environment than one that assumes there is only one way to document, one way to show milestones have been reached, one way to run a routine, one way to celebrate events etc. etc. etc.
  3. Never stop challenging the status quo: As soon as mediocrity becomes accepted we stop aiming for high expectations, and these high expectations come from a willingness to challenge and be challenged. A willingness to debate and critically analyse why things are happening in the service. A willingness to have open critically reflective discussions that support different ideas and allow for innovative thought.
  4. Have a service vision: Without a vision in place a number of service strive only for compliance and get so caught up in compliance they forget what makes them unique and what their goals are in their own community. Having a vision can align everyone to think greater than compliance and strive for high expectations that make them stand out from other services, not blend into uniformity. If you would like help with creating a vision RARE can offer consultation around this or there is a webinar next year on this topic.
  5. Recognise when people stop reaching their potential: If we are all doing the best that we possibly can, and one day someone drops their standards this is a sign of something going wrong. A symptom, if you like. Either the person involved has something going on outside of the service that is pulling their attention and energy, or they no longer feel supported/challenged/accepted, or they may have disengaged with the service because it no longer meets their needs. As soon as someone dips in their potential take time to explore what it going on and reflect on what may need to be put in place to correct this, before others start to go down the same path.

 

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5 tips for… Partnerships with families

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Families play a very important role in our services, without families there would be no children. Here are 5 tips to help with this principle …

  1. Develop professional relationships: While we see families sometimes 5 days a week for many years and get quite close to them, it is important to maintain a professional relationship as this can be useful if there are any issues that arise during their engagement with the service. Actions such as becoming facebook friends, socialising outside of work and so forth can lead to preferential treatment, or an abuse of privacy and confidentiality. Some services have clear expectations around this whether verbal or written while others do not so the expectations are unclear.
  2. Respect the needs of the families: While running an early childhood service is  business, it is also important that it reflects the context within which it operates. Families are all going to have different needs and expectations and while not all of these will be possible due to a range of reasons, taking the time to understand where the family is coming from can help bridge the gap. It is also important to respect their wishes and try, where possible, to negotiate or compromise instead of simply refusing because it is “not the way we do things here”. You never know when challenging the norm and trying new things can lead to improved practices and collaboration.
  3. Provide a variety of ways for families to engage: Not every family is going to be able to engage in the same way. Sometimes this is due to time constraints, financial issues, language barriers, cultural reasons, mental health issues, etc. It is important to offer a range of ways for families to engage from meetings and events to providing feedback and donating resources. This way all families can play an active role in a way that suits their needs, not just the needs of the service.
  4. Address issues in a swift and supportive manner: If an issue should arise with a family this should be valued as learning opportunity and responded to quickly. If you do not have all the information at that time then provide a time-frame that the response will be given by. Make sure when working with families you don’t just offer problems but also offer solutions. For more information check out the recorded webinar “difficult conversations with families
  5. Don’t stop offering opportunities: Even though families may not engage with the service as much as you would like it is important to continue to offer opportunities as if you stop offering you will miss opportunities to connect with those families looking for ways to get involved and miss out on the chance to build meaningful partnerships.

 

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5 tips for… Secure, respectful and reciprocal relationships

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Having worked our way through the practices and the role of the educator I will now unpack the principles and how these can be explored and embedded in your organisation. Here are 5 tips to help with this principle …

  1. Create a sense of belonging: There are many ways to ensure that all stakeholders have a sense of belonging, including through recognising their culture and identity in the environment. Developing a sense of belonging allows people to feel respected and included in service decisions. The way in which information is communicated and gathered can also be a means of including or excluding different families, educators and children.
  2. Develop and build trust: Trust is very important in services as it allows for a safe space for others to share their voice and feel heard. One of the simplest ways to develop trust is through consistency and predictable outcomes. This can allow for children, families and educators to feel secure in the environment as they can predict what will happen when they behave in certain ways.
  3. Allow others to use their voice: As I have discussed before on several different occasions it is important to ensure that everyone has a voice in the way that they need, not in the way that you want to offer it. Saying “speak up now or we move on” is confronting to some people who may have insightful suggestions but need time to process or a less intimidating space to raise them in. Consider offering a set time frame for feedback or additions to be raised via writing or verbal communication that allows different personalities to be heard.
  4. Allow that voice to be seen in service decisions: When families, children and educators are asked for their opinions and feedback it is good to reflect this in service decisions to show how their input had been used. This can be through policy updates, environment changes, modifications to systems or sharing information through newsletters etc.
  5. Practice empathy at all times: A key component of reciprocal relationships is that everyone feels like they have a voice and are heard, and empathy is a great way to achieve this. Considering other people’s opinions and perspectives allows for a deeper level of compassion and understanding than working on your own agenda.

 

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