Sunday, June 10, 2012

Professional Courtesy

I am the last person to try and claim anything near to perfection. I am flawed in so many ways and am guilty of many indiscretions on a personal and professional level. However, through personal reflection and constructive feedback from colleagues, friends and family I m usually able to recognise these gaffs and move forward in a way that sees a process aimed at eliminating such behaviours or practices.

What baffles me is that too often I see and hear so called professionals complain about what they do. Whinge about particular children, family members or other staff. Find excuses why something couldn't happen rather than find reasons to do something. What I have witnessed is when many of these people are made aware of their indiscretions their attitudes will appear to change in the short term, but old habits will soon begin to sneak their way back.

Of course there may be outside factors at play, such as poor health, domestic dramas, financial stress, etc. However, it is our duty to the children and families in our care, as well as to ourselves, to ensure these impact our daily professional practices as little as possible. Talk with colleagues, seek assistance from whatever avenue is available, open yourself up to help from whatever corner you can because in the end if you don't you are letting yourself down, the children down the families down, your colleagues down and the entire early childhood sector.

I'm lucky in so many ways in this regard. I have a supportive wife and children who are understanding and have sacrificed for me so many times on this journey. I have a network of friends and colleague who I can lean on in times of need and who will freely offer advice when requested. Now not everyone will be so lucky, but when all else fails
The Early Childhood Australia's Code of Ethics is a document that represents the cornerstone of what educators in the early childhood sector in Australia should be striving for through our beliefs, practices and relationships. There is a section dedicated specifically to our responsibilities and expectations of us to ourselves. Here is what it has to say. 
Courtesy of Early Childhood Australia

In relation to myself as a professional, I will:

1. Base my work on contemporary perspectives on research,
theory, content knowledge, high-quality early childhood
practices and my understandings of the children and families with whom I work.

2. Regard myself as a learner who undertakes reflection, critical
self-study, continuing professional development and engages
with contemporary theory and practice.

3. Seek and build collaborative professional relationships.

4. Acknowledge the power dimensions within professional

5. Act in ways that advance the interests and standing of
my profession.

6. Work within the limits of my professional role and avoid
misrepresentation of my professional competence and

7. Mentor other early childhood professionals and students.

8. Advocate in relation to issues that impact on my profession
and on young children and their families.

9. Encourage qualities and practices of leadership within the
early childhood profession.

Now if we all looked to such a document to guide us then we would become more reflective, more supportive, more understanding and more collaborative. All of these attribute lead to become a better professional. However, for me there is one undeniable fact that supersedes all of the other factors mentioned already. If you don't like being around young children, at their best and worst, then this is not the vocation for you. If someone doesn't want to be around you I bet you can sense that. Well guess what? Children sense it too and usually much better than us adults do.

Our children deserve the best we can offer. The best environments, both indoor and outdoor, that are inviting, challenging and safe. The best opportunities to be themselves, to build on their skills and knowledge, to interact positively with others. The best adults to ensure all these other areas are taken care of. As a parent I want too know the people charged with caring for and educating my children ALWAYS have their best interests in mind.

So here's the challenge. If you are one of those people struggling with what you are doing please seek help and advice about whether it's the right place for you to be or if there is something that can be done to turn things around. You need to be the one to make the move. If you see someone struggling, offer a shoulder to lean on. A helping hand can often makes things so much less daunting. A friend by your side is so  much better than a gossip behind your back.

I hope this post have given us all some food for thought. In writing it I have even thought of things I need to change. Let's all help this profession be the envy of all others and make our world, the world of early childhood education and care the best it can be for the children, their families and ourselves.


  1. I live by the saying "Nobody is perfect, but who wants to be a nobody anyway?"

    it doesn't however stop me striving for being the best educator possible. I'm seeking education nirvana.

  2. Let me know when you get there Juliet. Oh, & if you don't mind can you give me directions to there as well?