Leading by example: Developing a professional identity in 2019
The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Sector.
As educators, we are still working to raise the profile of our work and achieve the respect we deserve as professionals. At CCC’s AGM last year, Dr Anne Kennedy – who was a member of the team that wrote the EYLF – highlighted the importance of our sector developing a professional identity.
Raising the professional profile of our sector starts with all of us. How can we, as educators, create a professional identity for ourselves (and level up in our careers, too?).
Here are my 5 best tips for developing a professional identity:
1) Upskill, upskill, upskill
By neglecting your professional growth to put out short term fires, you could be leaving your career in the dust. Upskilling is non-negotiable for reaching your potential, no matter your level of experience. Don’t stress though – you don’t always have to fork out big dollars or go back to school to study. You could attend a full-day intensive training, find a mentor, take a short course, or tune in for a webinar. CCC’s training is affordable and a good place to start – remember that members get 25 per cent off.
2) Get nerdy: read at least one sector piece a month
Have you read the research that identifies early education as key to overcoming disadvantage in the early years? Keep up to date with new research, expert advice and sector news. A deep sector knowledge will impress your peers and new employers, and empower you to become a better advocate for our work in your community. Passion is infectious!
When was the last time you read the NQS, EYLF, or ECA Code of Ethics? These documents should guide our practice on a daily basis, and help us understand who we are as professionals. If you aren’t already comfortable with these documents, make 2019 the year you sit down and really absorb them.
Don’t stop reading here! I know networking is a scary word, but it doesn’t need to be. Your options are diverse – you could attend a local network group, resolve to introduce yourself to your peers at conferences and trainings, or even join a Facebook support group. Networking can give you access to hundreds of years’ worth of combined wisdom, inspiration and solutions. Plus – as National Education Leader Rhonda Livingstone says – listening to and supporting other educators is a good opportunity to critically reflect on your own practice. To find out which local networks are in your area, contact your Inclusion Professional.
4) Be open to new ideas… even if you’ve tried them before
Being a professional is about having the courage to question the status quo. Hone in on your problem solving and leadership skills by taking the time to try new things. You’ll find inspiration and fresh strategies through networking and within your own team, but don’t overlook strategies that have flopped in the past. You might be surprised how well they work now, in a different context or with different children.
5) Know the language and use it
We are ‘educators’, not ‘child care workers’ or ‘carers’. Always use the language and insist that others use it too. Remember that we all work under the same frameworks. We are in this together and your peers in other early and middle education services are professional educators too!
Most importantly, take time for you. We can’t grow as professionals if we aren’t making the space to take care of ourselves.
Will you make 2019 the year you lead by example?
This article has been adapted from an interview published in the Autumn 2019 edition of Roundtable magazine, and has been adapted with author permission. The original article will be made available on the archive section of the CCCA website, and can be accessed here in future.