Previously, Niyati Prabhu has written for us about a local research project she led which connected parents, educators, schools and children in order to improve her service’s school readiness programs. Over three articles, Niyati is sharing a range of educator-wellbeing strategies employed at Cherry Bridge Station, Lane Cove, where she is the nominated supervisor.
In this final article in the series, Niyati ties together the practical examples of wellbeing support at her service with the extensive pedagogical and psychological theory behind her strategies. A list of references for further reading is included.
Don’t miss the first in this series here.
Wellbeing leads to better teaching
The wellbeing of an educator directly impacts the wellbeing of a child.
This statement rings true when we consider how professional practices in ECE fluctuate between child-centred and didactic approaches (Spitek, 2004).
A child centred approach requires educators to reflect on each child’s individual interests, strengths and abilities to be able to plan an effective curriculum.
An educators’ effectiveness at both a personal and organisational level will determine the teaching style they use in a setting, so the more effective we are, the more likely we are to follow best practice and apply child-centred approaches. Effectiveness as an educator is supported by personal wellbeing.
The cycle of wellbeing and effectiveness
Educators may not be effective when confronted with disruptive behaviour and when they are experiencing a personal or professional burnout (Jones & Harcourt, 2013).
Stresses like this can result in the educator reverting to a didactic style of teaching, which of course only increases the child’s reliance on adult interactions and reduces child-led and child-centred interactions.
This style of teaching least supports strategies that help children acquire social competencies and and it hinders creativity in both teaching and learning.
Strategies I have discussed in the previous article in this series will empower staff to support social competencies in children. These have included monitoring staff wellbeing, rostering time out of the room to plan a child- centred curriculum, and supporting educators to build vital reflective skills.
Making it happen
This finally brings me to reflect on what a leadership model should look like in a service that is trying to gain more positive outcomes for its staff to promote overall wellness and wellbeing for the educators and children in their care.
Robbins, et al, (2006)(as cited in Bergman, Stagg & Coulter, 2006) believe that the democratic style of leadership is more effective than the authoritarian leadership style because it aims to involve all members of the group, strengthen relationships and communications with staff and it increases staff motivation and equity.
An organisation which follows this style of leadership works towards sustaining a positive self -actualisation for all staff within the work place. This interlinks with Maslow’s (1970) hierarchy of needs, where an individual progressively fulfils each of the five needs, resulting in the employee’s enhanced psychological and emotional wellbeing.
In conclusion, as leaders and managers we must continuously create innovative and supportive learning environments.
We have to ensure that educators know there are tools that can help them when they are feeling stressed or under pressure to meet changing demands. We need to be creative and to use the information our colleagues can share about their own needs for wellness and wellbeing, as well as their personal and professional goals.
In this way we can gain positive outcomes for educators, children, and the service as a whole.
Baer, R.A. (2003). Mindfulness training as a clinical intervention: A conceptual and empirical review. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10, 125–143.
Jones, L., & Harcourt, D. (2013). Social competencies and the early years learning framework’: Understanding critical influences on educator capacity. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood. 38(1).
Robbins, S.,Bergam, R.,Stagg, I., & Coulter, M. (2006). Leadership. In S. Robbins, R. Bergam. I. Stagg., M. Coulter. Management (4th ed). Australia :Pearson Education
Schaufeli, W.B., & Greenglass, E.R. (2001). Introduction to special issue on burnout and health. Psychology & Health, 16, 501–510.
Stipek, D. (2004). Teaching practices in kindergarten and first grade: Different strokes for different folks. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 19(4), 548–568
VanSlyke-Briggs, K. (2010). The nurturing teacher. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Education.
Youth Health and Welfare: The Cultural Politics of Education and Wellbeing. (2009). Australian And New Zealand Journal Of Public Health, 33(6), 585-586.
Meet the author
Niyati Prabhu belongs to a family of educators who firmly believe that 'a child miseducated is a child lost.' When she switched careers from psychology to early childhood, "It felt like it was always meant to be, like I had come back home". Niyati joined the Cherry Bridge Station Lane Cove team in November 2015 and took up the role of a nominated supervisor and educational leader in January 2016. Her work was recognised across the provider's network at the annual award ceremony later that year. In the past two years, she has enjoyed building pedagogical relationships with the educators, mentoring and supporting them to develop their skills and practices. Part of advocating our profession is providing information about the national quality framework and for this I believe it is very important to engage the educators, families and children in research, to explore new ideas and approaches that will enhance the educational program.