When it comes to Assessment and Rating (A&R), why are we so unsure?
- As confident people that are entrusted and look after others most precious ‘possesion’, their children.
- As confident leaders that manage centres and run ‘businesses’ effectively.
- As confident Educators that lead centres which are basically like running a small (or large for some of us) school, but without the support.
- As staff that are expected to administer first aid in difficult situations with no medical training.
- As staff that are expected to handle high level additional needs with minimal training (compared to those in classrooms with the same children).
- As staff that handle endless behaviour situations and work hard to resolve and improve the outcomes with minimal resources (no backing of a school councilor, etc).
I challenge you to find others you know in other industries, that do what you do. That have the responsibilities you hold.
We do so much. We have so much authority, trust, leadership and skills. But why when it comes to A&R do we question what we do?
I’ve been there, and am all of the above, but still got so nervous when it came to A&R. Although day to day confident in everything we do, why is it this one part that scares us so much? This isn’t just in OSHC, I’ve noticed this in all education and care (early childcare, preschool, FDC, etc).
How do we change this?
I’m not sure how we change it or why we are this way to start with. I’ve been through the ‘old’ process pre NQF and for me personally, it felt quite similar in regards to how our visit went. So it’s been apart of what we do for a while now.
Is it the rating we fear the most?
Do we fear the rating and final outcome that it affects our judgement (and nerves) leading in to A&R? Does this fear make us start to question what we do which in turn leads us to get nervous and not articulate well why we do what we do (the back bone of all that our centres are built upon – our philosophy).
As someone with learning difficulties, I’ve delt with this fear for a long time (dredded the HSC and results at university). I was often told (written across essays in bold red pen actually) that I need help and I can’t write. One of my most passionate areas is additional needs, having a family background here it’s what I know and know well. However I failed this subject not once, but twice at university. Although I knew what I wrote was acurate, I wasn’t confident. Overtime I learnt not to worry so much on what they were saying, but to still do what I believed in.
I know when I write these blogs / articles there will be others critiquing how and what I write, but I honestly don’t mind. It’s taken a while to get there – but I genuinely don’t. Why do I still write? I’m passionate and I love what we do (although a little nervous as spell check is for some reason not working right now).
That may seem like a random tangent, but with OSHC and your practice. Don’t just focus on A&R. Focus on your passion and why you do what you do. Embedding is a big part of the whole NQS and achieving the Exceeding themes. If we only think about A&R, are we really embedding it? If we think of it as a normal every day practice, now that’s truly embedding.
We had things ‘go wrong’ during A&R, but it was how we handled those situations they were looking for. Of course a child decided to jump up on a counter and walk around (honestly never happens), and I of course freaked out safety wise. But it was how our team handled the situation in getting the child down, as it was obvious this wasn’t normal practice. It was embedded that educators know how to react to situations, to supervise adequately (picked up on it straight away) and since they were engaged they had great relationships with the children – so the child listened with no issues (there was no yelling across the room, but a calm collected educator talking to the child).
Seems like a little occurance, however with this one occurance:
- Our practice is embeeded in service operations, as educators are provided guidance and leadership and given tools and skills to use, there is group and individual professional development provided, the supervision areas are well spread out / thought about in regards to what is needed, Educators are confident with their abilities due to being engaged and hands on with our program and the encouragement from leadership to be involved, Educators are carefully selected in the team to ensure they suit the centres philosophy and our play culture, and so much more.
- Our practice is informed by critical reflection. It is how we decide on service operations. It is how we decide on programming – perhaps from a conversation it is found out that child is bored and wants to climb, maybe they recently went rock climbing and loved it, educators can use that information and discussion with the child about perhaps they’d like to do tree climbing as it can closely mimic rock climbing. This is critically reflected on by the Educator by looking in to the detail, getting creative, asking questions and exploring, keeping that continuous process of engagement and coming up with an idea to help strengthen the program by providing ongoing quality experiences for the children. This idea of tree climbing now has meaning behind it and not all educators will agree to this idea. This is where critical reflection can be used again, it is an ongoing process of learning and how we can work with all educators to gain different perspectives (some educators might be nervous to supervise tree climbing, some might think since it’s a school rule not to climb trees we should do the same, some may be more reckless and think kids can climb as high as they like cause they did as a child, and so forth). There are so many different perspectives that can build up on this one simple program idea / suggestion.
- Our practice is shaped by meainingful engagement with families and / or the community. Educators can take this idea to the school community to discuss why tree climbing would be beneficial in our enviornment (risk assessed, supervised, educational perspective of skills that can be developed, etc) and can discuss the above as well with families. The relationships are already built upon at the service for these conversations to happen. In fact, educators have been pre-emptive and already inform families of the centres practice and program of risky play with written information (could be in your philosophy, welcome pack to families, etc). This means families are not caught off guard when activities like tree climbing pop up.
“Critically reflective teachers are always thinking about how they influence and effect the learning and teaching environment, and importantly upon the likely effects of theirteaching and presence upon the quality of their students’ learning.A critically reflective educator will ‘frame’ their reflections from a student perspective and will embark upon a deliberate process of gathering information and evidence, and finding out how students’ are experiencing learning and teaching.”
Seems like, again, another random tangent, but that is how one little occurance can be looked in to indepth. It is likely happening without you even realising. Going in depth like the above and ensuring practice is informed by critical reflection (which is not evaluating) is important in what we do in OSHC.
- It’s how we continuously evolve as a service.
- It’s how our educators grow.
- It’s how our team develops.
It doesn’t mean sitting and writing the above and hours of ‘reflections’, forcing staff to do it after each session (albiet if it works for you – go for it), not at all, but having the thought and mindset embedded in practice, the discussions going as a team, with families, community, the children or individually and exploring ones own practice.
Hold the Fear
With A&R, don’t forget what you do. Go back to the first dot points of this blog / article. Remember the responsibility. Don’t doubt yourself. Move forward with a positive mindset in what you do, in your practice, in your team and centre.
Use the regulations, check with your states regulatory authority when you’re not sure or want to double check something (personally do this a lot and by email, so I have the response in writing if needed in A&R). Be strong in your knowledge of the NQF, the NQS and the learning framework. Look at it from different perspectives and go back to it frequently.
Research, continue to build on what you know and your knowledge. Continue to evolve. This isn’t just researching what other centres do, but research educational practices (as we are focusing on children’s development in OSHC), consider yourself a geunine educator (because you are) and nothing less.
You got this.