One of the advantages of working for an organisation such as Mission Australia is that you have the benefit of an entire organisation, including all the various branches, to support what you are doing. There is still the not-for-profit, community-minded base to the operation, unlike similar private set ups. A key initiative in this supportive approach has been the coming together of colleagues across services to exchange ideas & share learning. These communities began with Directors who have been meeting roughly once a month. This was shortly followed by bimonthly meetings of 2ICs. There are many examples of services doing something similar, particularly for Directors. However, I was lucky enough to participate in the latest initiative of our Regional manager, Ben Williams. That is to have a coming together of room leaders working with the same age groups. Last month the preschool room leaders met & last week I was part of the first toddler room learning community.
This gathering included all toddler room leaders from the 11 NSW centres. We were able to meet our peers, many for the first time & it is planned to hook us up electronically so that we can continue to collaborate & support each other despite the geographical limits. I won't go into the details of what took place, but it was a very positive & supportive atmosphere. What makes this such an insightful initiative is that NSW is the only state to do this at the moment. It was the brainchild of Ben Williams, an early childhood trained teacher who worked in schools for several years before taking on his current role. I can't help but think that his early childhood background was influential in his development of this learning communities idea.
This is another example of a male making a difference in early childhood education, only this time in the management side of things.