Sunday, 27 September 2015

What it takes to be a preschool teacher...

I don't think there is a specific recipe to be a preschool teacher... we are all different with our own personal experiences, our different combinations of theory learned as well as different practical skills...

What I think is essential is how we all combine these... not only so that we can be the best teacher we can be, but also receive critique and grow from it rather than it being a personal insult.

A long time ago I saw an explanation of professionalism as a series of circles... and I am not sure if I am remembering/interpreting it right - but this is how I have developed them.

model 1

This first image (model 1) demonstrates a teacher who has equal amounts of theory and practice. So not only is there plenty of hands on interactions with the children there is also equal amounts of reflection and application of theory. There is also an equal amount of the person coming to the job - with own childhood experiences and history that can enrich the role of preschool teacher.

model 2

 In this model there is a great deal of theory but not much hands on practice. Lots of reflecting, lots of theory being discussed but not so much of it reaching  and benefitting the children.

model 3

In this third model there is little theory and lots of hands on... the teacher is active with the children but is not taking time to reflct about
why or how this is affecting the children.

model 4
In this fourth model the personal side of the teacher is taking a large role. This means that when the profession is being critiqued it is taken personally as not enough practice and theory is there to "protect" the individual with professionlism. The arrow being the outside input. It can also mean that personal incidents can influence the children both positively and negatively.

model 5
And there is the fifth model where there is very little of the personal involvement of the teacher... the passion, the professional love, memories from their own childhoods that can be applied to understanding and empathising with children today.

For me, model one, with equal amounts of personal, theory and practice is what we, as teachers, should be striving towards. The arrow is the outside input... this can be both positive and negative... and when the teacher has a circle where the personal takes a large role it can mean that the teacher is more reliant on positive feedback to feel good and that critique intended to extend thinking and challenge the status quo is seen as more threatening. Provoking thought is never going to be easy, but if we are taking it as an insult whenever someone thinks differently from ourselves then it is going to make change all the more harder...

Working philosophically.. not only with children but also with colleagues opens up the potential to discuss ideas respectfully... to be aware of being open to other perspectives and to understand that nothing is personally intended but that ideas are being challenged, argued for and against and distinctions being made. This, then can be a great way at practicing to be model 1.

I am sure that there are not just 5 models... but for now i think they can aid you to understand not only your own approach to your work, but maybe also understand colleagues. And through understanding we can make adjustments in our communication and enable us all to grow and extend.

I hope these circles are helpful.


  1. So helpful! I love this model and think it will be helpful in conversations with teachers about a range of topics.

  2. Very good models...I think too the first one is the "best"...balance should be the key word, I could add also flexibility, sometimes we need more theory, sometimes more personal and sometimes more personal...but in a larger view yes, we need a third of each, questioning always ourselves on what, why and how we do our work.