Status: Private Kindergarten
Interviewee: Former Teaching Staff Manager
The interview explores the challenges faced by female educators in early childhood education, with a focus on the differences between older and younger teachers. The impact of technology on teaching during the pandemic, difficulties in classroom management, and the importance of parent communication are discussed.
Early childhood education faces various challenges related to technology, classroom management, communication with parents, and staff well-being. Addressing these challenges requires adapting to technological advancements, providing resources, improving salaries, and prioritising the well-being of educators. Support networks and regular meetings can play a vital role in preventing burnout and promoting professional growth among educators.
Regular staff meetings provide a valuable platform for educators in early childhood education to address challenges, seek support, and foster a sense of community. These meetings contribute to the well-being of teachers by promoting affirmation, reflection, and solidarity. By implementing structured and inclusive staff meetings, educational managers can create an environment that supports professional growth, prevents burnout, and ultimately enhances the quality of education provided to young children.
- Differences in Age and Adaptability: Younger educators trained in digital means outperform older colleagues in adapting to technological advancements, leading to challenges during remote teaching in the pandemic.
- Wear and Tear on Older Staff: Older educators may experience difficulties in working with parents due to increased parental involvement, leading to additional stress.
- Technology and Curriculum Implementation: Lack of digital resources in preschools hampers effective teaching, forcing teachers to find alternative methods for imparting knowledge.
- Classroom Management Challenges: Overcrowded classrooms and diverse student needs make it challenging for teachers to ensure productivity, creativity, and attention retention.
“ The most important aspect after the formation of a working team is involvement - without involvement, participation, active participation as we like to express ourselves lately, you cannot expect to get results when working in the field of education because the educator plays a role importantly, it is a trainer, a trainer of opinions, of characters, of future citizens, of people. ”
“ Being a preschool teacher is a work of passion and commitment. The workload of the teachers is enormous and is also very challenging daily. As easy as it might sound, it’s not. It is truly time and effort-consuming work, but it also is rewarding in its ways. ”
- Parent Communication: Clear and transparent parent communication is crucial for supporting children's learning and growth, but updating parents regularly requires significant time and effort.
- Recruitment Challenges: Low salaries compared to other professions deter young professionals, leading to difficulties in finding qualified educators.
- Staff Well-being: The demanding nature of the job can lead to burnout, and the lack of attention to staff well-being by public entities is a concern.
- Importance of Support Networks: Establishing support networks and regular non-formal meetings can prevent burnout and provide teachers with affirmation, reflection, and solidarity.
What are the age-related issues seen in your institution?
Differences arise between older and younger female educators, yet this doesn't always impact work quality, mainly the adaptation to changing systems over time. Naturally, a contrast exists between tech-savvy, young educators and older ones. Especially during the pandemic's last 2 years, using technology for remote teaching caused challenges for older teachers, as students often knew more about devices. Online teaching was tough for everyone during that time. Signs of weariness occasionally surface among senior staff, not in child-related tasks but in interactions with parents. Parental involvement has increased significantly, sometimes excessively, adding stress for educators.
Can we speak about specific challenges?
In our situation, the advanced use of digital media wasn't a priority. Educators primarily engaged with children directly, so the shift to online activities caught us unprepared – educators, families, and the entire education system. Despite this, we all made a rapid and significant effort to adapt as best as possible. Unfortunately, support from the ministry and local authorities was minimal during this period.
Additionally, challenges arise in direct classroom activities, especially when classes are overcrowded with children. Parental preferences for specific educators contribute to this issue. Managing a classroom of toddlers is never easy. Every child has unique needs, and balancing attention, productivity, and creativity can be demanding. Distractions are frequent.
Implementing the school's curriculum is another challenge. The push for modern technology in teaching is significant, but most preschools lack the tools for digital education. Teachers struggle to fill this gap and adjust to a book-based approach.
Educators invest considerable time understanding the curriculum, planning activities, and tracking children's progress. Crafting inclusive lesson plans for diverse students is tough while handling daily tasks and paperwork.
Maintaining transparent parent communication is crucial, but it's time-consuming. Keeping parents updated about their child's education is a big responsibility, demanding energy and patience.
Finding qualified educators has been a challenge due to low salaries. I had to opt for older or even retired educators due to a scarcity of candidates. The imbalanced pay and workload discourages young people from entering the field. Despite comparatively better pay in our private organisation, personnel recruitment remains difficult due to this ongoing issue.
Are there any measures implemented to prevent/solve/improve problems?
Working with young children is a daily challenge, a source of energy, and a significant responsibility. Maintaining confidence in this role is crucial. Confidence shifts can lead to problems, potentially causing stress or burnout.
Unfortunately, public entities don't prioritise these concerns. Programs addressing age management for early childhood professionals or schools are lacking. Public focus remains on employment requirements and taxes, with individual or managerial care for staff.
As an educational manager with a psychology background, I prioritise staff well-being. I invest time in observing, building relationships, and understanding colleagues. Burnout signs might not be obvious, but fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, or frequent absences can signal issues. Disengagement from teaching also raises concerns. Being present in the kindergarten daily allows me to monitor my staff closely.
I firmly believe in the power of social networks. Teachers with supportive communities find affirmation, reflection, and solidarity. We organise regular meetings for teachers to engage socially, especially after challenging days. These informal gatherings provide ideas and positive encouragement. Occasionally, I join, but often, I let teachers connect among themselves.
What message would you pass to other colleagues?
I can say that the most important aspect after the formation of a working team is involvement - without involvement, participation, active participation as we like to express ourselves lately, you cannot expect to get results when working in the field of education because the educator plays an important role, it is a trainer, a trainer of opinions, of characters, of future citizens, of people. I am convinced that change can only come from us. Thus, in order to educate others, we must learn how to change ourselves.