Haha yea I love that picture. I've never been one to "put myself out there" online, I have to be somewhat concious of privacy (as we all should online!) and coming from a small town it's even more of a concern. And I really don't photograph well haha, so I generally find an "avatar" or profile picture that gives people a sense of my personality rather than a photo of myself.
I have been working casual shifts in a LDC centre while completing my Diploma. I'm about a month away from completing all my units (full time Gordon institute TAFE student) and coming up on my final placement. My centre will endeavour to give me paid shifts in an over 3's room so I get time to complete my placement assignments (as this will be my 4th 120 hour placement, paid work hours can be counted towards placement hours apparently.) So I'm almost done!
Might as well give you the full background...
I had worked for 12 years full time in retail/customer service positions, I spent 7 years with JB Hi-Fi as a music department manager and in August of 2013 I left JB to manage a clothing retail store. I was seeking change, challenge and reward in my career and this setting provided very little of any of that for me.
Working with children (primary teaching) was one of my earliest career aspirations. I was on that path until year 12 when I was hit with Glandular Fever and was unable to complete VCE. I entered the workforce with the plan to apply for Uni once I was 21 and of mature age. But I got used to an income, bills, rent and lifestyle that created a comfort zone making me loose sight of my career goals.
After taking over the clothing store, I fell into deep depression and anxiety. During this period I spent time with family, friends and professionals discussing my deepest feelings and fears, and dedicated myself to changing the situation. I underwent cognitive behaviour therapy and worked extremely hard to "correct" my thinking and manage my anxious responses. Biggest challenge I've ever faced in my life.
Ultimately, I am in this position now because of my wife Elle. She is my rock. Elle flat out told me "you are going to study next year, we'll make it work." and she has had my back through some very tough financial positions we've encountered (possibly wouldn't have encountered, If I found out about "working towards qualifications" earlier in the picture!) So Elle researched the diploma and gathered all the information available, she presented it to me as "It's not Primary teaching, but it'll get your foot in the door."
I went to sessional Kinder as a child and then onto Primary. Never set foot in a LDC service and I had a lot of pre-conceived ideas about the nature of these businesses. I really thought I'd be "going through the motions" for the duration of the diploma and it was just the start of a decade long process of working in retail while studying for my Bachelor.
Coming up to my first placement, I had a completely different outlook. Everything I had learned up to this point fit in perfectly with my own values an beliefs (and a philosophy I didn't even realise I'd formed at this point.) That placement nearly broke me. Everything I observed of "educators" was the opposite of what we'd been learning, everything I'd thought to myself "Really? People do that?" I got to experience first hand on that placement. FYI babies room. Fell back into depression and considered leaving the diploma. But I had the mental strength to hold off on a decision until the next placement. Kinder.
The Kinder placement in November 2014 was the final piece of my mental puzzle. I had an incredible experience with educators who I respect and learned a lot from. The sessional Kinder setting was so different in so many ways and I felt I had found my calling. LDC may not be for me, but there is always Kindergarten as an option.
Jump forward to my 3rd placement and I had a choice of the babies or toddlers room. I chose toddlers as I hadn't experienced that age bracket yet. After 2 days in the room I had a revelation, my first placement experience had nothing to do with the LDC setting in general, it was just that centre. This centre was displaying everything positive we had been learning, I very quickly found my role in the room and had some incredibly insightful discussions with the educators in the centre. This is what "child focussed" looks like, these are positive and respectful interactions, these are meaningful and quality experiences.
At that point, everything seemed to converge in my mind and start to make a lot of sense. People are still people, even with the exact same training and knowledge, some people are just awful. Laziness, self absorption, poor attitudes and complacency will be evident in every industry. The people and team you are working with can make or break job satisfaction.
So basically, I've found my calling. Early childhood suits me perfectly. I no longer have any desire to work in Primary education because I feel such a strong connection to the early years practices and principles and above all...learning through play. Just need to be wary that some settings will not suit me and learn from the negatives rather than let them deter me.
In my centre, I work in all rooms (being a casual) but if the opportunity arises, toddlers room is my home. I've built some amazing relationships with the toddies and I really start to miss them if I'm needed elsewhere in the centre! I've built some great relationships with the older children too, but they understand that I have to leave and go to other rooms, the toddlers tend to "wail" a bit when I have to leave (such a conflicting feeling, yay because they miss me but I wish they wouldn't cry!)
I love the centre I've been working in and I'm really looking forward to finishing my studies and being able to accept more hours. I cannot wait to get more involved in planning and start bringing in ideas and resources.
Sorry about the "thesis" post haha