Early Years Teachers
1st February 2018
By Hayley Smith
Growing up I always wanted to be a teacher; I was that child who used to line up my teddies and dolls and pretend to take the register, and I was happy anywhere as long as I had a pen and paper with me! But as I have worked more and more in Early Years, I realise that I would not be suited to teaching the rigid key stage curriculum in a mainstream school environment as I used to imagine that I would. I also realise, though, that those of us who are working with children in early years settings are just as much ‘teachers’ as any other educators working with a curriculum to teach new skills to children and young people.
There is an ongoing push for early years practitioners to be a highly skilled and highly qualified workforce, and to receive the due recognition which that carries. Many settings have staff teams who are qualified to varying levels from NVQ’s to degrees and beyond! I am a highly qualified member of staff in my setting as I have a BA (Hons) and Early Years Teacher Status, and I am currently half way through an MA. I enjoy learning and I feel that relevant study improves my practice and I have been fortunate to be provided with opportunities for learning and study.
As I completed my BA (Hons) I was offered the opportunity to study for the, newly named, ‘Early Years Teacher Status’ which replaced ‘Early Years Professional Status’ in an attempt to recognise the teaching which takes place in early years settings. I thoroughly embraced the name change and embarked on the course which I quickly learnt intended to enable me to be a better practitioner and a leader of good practice within my setting. Whilst I am passionate about early years and deeply understand the value of good practice within settings, I feel the pressure of my role and I am conscious that the concept of ‘good practice’ and what that might look like may not be the same for everyone.
I believe that I am continually supporting best practice to take place within my setting but I also believe that the ambiguous nature of children and childcare means that we are all together on a huge learning curve. My position as an early years teacher gives me the task of leading practice but I am very much learning from the individuals who I work with everyday, regardless of the qualifications they hold. Similarly, online forums or meetings, or even large exhibitions such as the childcare expos, provide opportunities for networking and learning from others on a larger scale outside of my own setting.
No matter how highly qualified I might become in my chosen field of education and specifically early years, I will always have more to learn. I believe that such learning opportunities will continue to come in the forms of interactions with colleagues and other professionals, and also in interactions which I share with the children whom I work with and care for.