Educators - Know Your Stuff!

Four things that Educators who know how to exceed do  Educators working towards the National Quality Standard don’t. 

I have noticed something interesting…  the difference in the practice of services who have been rated as working towards the 

National Quality Framework (NQF)

 compared to those who are exceeding it. I have been fortunate to visit hundreds of education and care services to support educators since the implementation of the NQF. I’ve learnt stuff; lots of stuff. There is a couple things, however, that stand out and I want to let you in on the secrets. Mostly, so you STOP buying unnecessary paperwork, dodgy plagiarised folders of documentation, EYLF posters and templates, and start using the free documents and information that is readily available to you.Many educators that I meet who are confused about the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) have never been handed the Educators guide to the EYLF during their studies. Instead, they think it’s profound when someone plagiarises and sells it to them. Some have never even held a copy of Belonging, Being & Becoming and usually those same ones are, what I call, Pedagogically phobic –  they have an irrational fear of using or pronouncing the word Pedagogy, let alone defining it. They’re confused about which documents are helpful and which aren’t. Who wouldn’t be? All you have to do is open your internet browser to find 'consultants' peddling their interpretations, study notes, cheat sheets, manuals and charts with the ever so tempting promise of the elusive magic formula to take the stress and hard work out of Educational Program and Practice.

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As a strength-based practitioner, my emphasis is on supporting my colleagues to build their own capacity. I write the same prescription of documents and quality assured resources and websites for educators all over the country, so they can continue their ongoing learning and reflective practice after I’m gone. I have promised them a post that links some useful free documents to start their learning from the moment they rip up their cheat sheets. Here it is.This post is for you if you or your colleagues:

  • Are unsure if your programming and documentation will hold up in A&R;
  • Still can’t get your head around the EYLF;
  • Are confused about what to document and how;
  • Want to know if you’re “doing it right” when it comes to educational program and practice; or
  • Are an educator who has confidence in meeting the National Quality Standard (NQS) and want to know how awesome you are.

Here are four things that educators who know how to exceed do that educator working towards understanding the NQS do not.

1) They know their shit

Educators who just get the NQF are lovers of the art and science of teaching children. Not only can they pronounce pedagogy but they use the word in context, frequently. They know that the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) has three elements and they can tell you their favourite practice or principle with stories from their work with a glimmer in their eye.

2) They do not cheat!

You won’t find a cheat sheet with their programming, instead, they own a tattered copy of the EYLF. Educators who are meeting the NQS adore their copy of the approved curriculum framework and open it frequently. It’s usually missing the cover and pages are starting to come loose from the staples. It’s often covered in highlighter, coffee stains, and has known many post-it notes.

3) They like to mingle

Educators who know their shit, and don’t cheat, also mingle with like-minds. They’re excellent professional net-workers and love a good robust debate about contemporary practice in education and care. The side effect of this is that they’re often addicted to Professional Development, ‘cause they know they’ll find their kind there. They’re the first to put their hand up for PD and attend with bells on, even on a Saturday.

4) They don’t buy more paperwork

That’s right… you can’t buy self-assessment, reflective practice or ongoing learning. Nor do you need to. Educators who are confident with the quality of their practice know this and they can spot a rip-off a mile away. They refuse to buy someone else’s study notes, or a consultant’s re-invention of existing NQF supporting documents (which incidentally, are publicly available for free). In fact, they know where to find the most useful resources to further their knowledge of the NQS.

So where to next?

You want to know how to understand the National Quality Framework? First of all... stop buying more paperwork. You have everything you need to understand the NQF at your service. Until those resources look as old and haggard as your favourite book, from being opened and loved… do not buy another thing. Try these four steps:

1) Know your shit

Open your curriculum framework every day until you know it inside out. Learn the vocabulary used within the framework so you’re no longer scared of it. Research and explore the evidence behind the principles and practices of the EYLF. Explore them in your work. Use your documentation as a research tool and become a confident learner.

2) Chuck out your cheat sheets

You know those A4 charts that say LO 1.1, LO 4.3, LO5 point 2 point bullshit ? They have held you back from getting to know the most important document of your profession when it comes to making curriculum decisions that meet QA 1.  Throw them out. Burn them (after making necessary risk assessments). Get your own copy of the EYLF and learn to love it. You’ll soon notice that there is no LO1.1 or 4.3.

3) Professional network like a boss

Go to PD. Join groups. Find mentors. Fill your social media feeds with rich conversation, articles and ideas about pedagogical practice (not craptivities and craft ideas). Get to conferences. Meet, follow and talk to people who are passionate about children’s rights, social justice and early childhood education.

4) Don’t get suckered into buying crap

Instead, get to know all of the supporting documents and readings available for free. Sign up to publications from Early Childhood Australia - then read them. Pull out the NQF resource kit (big blue folder in perfect condition on bookshelf), open it to QA 1 and make sure you understand that first. Then reference the folder regularly. Know the Educator’s Guide. Also know that it was written years ago and is just that - a guide. But start there. Find the bits that resonate with you and read some more. Here are some links to get started (for free). Enjoy this journey of discovery and learning to love this necessary and essential part of our work… a National Quality Framework.

At the bottom of this page are some handy PDF pages you can save in your iBooks for later. It's important to go to the source. Get the original documents (not re-writes of them). Most documents pertaining to the NQF are produced by the Australian Government and The Department of Education and Training. Here's some more references and links to get you started.

Childhood Online - This online library, provided to support early childhood education in Australia is cooperative of the following organisations supporting Education and Care services:

NQF for Early Childhood Education and Care - Resources - This is a list of all the resources that are associated with National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care from the Australian Government Department of Education and Training.

Here's a hot tip. The following pages have the above links embedded as button's in PDF. For quick reference, you can save these pages to your desktop, downloads or (preferably) iBooks. Once they're there you can grab the documents as you need them. I highly recommend saving the EYLF, Guide to the NQS and the Regs into your iBooks and frequently utilising the search function.

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