Author: Lynne Brooke – Educational Leader
Date: 21 June 2019
This week I stumbled across a podcast that discussed professional identity and how we as professionals identify ourselves to others. Listen to #102 Professional Identity with Catharine Hydon from The Early Education Show in iTunes Podcasts.
What resonated with me was the language we use to describe ourselves as Early Childhood Professionals. Whether we are educators, managers or service staff, we are all advocates for the sector. To discover your own identity I feel comes with practice and you have to create your own sense of belonging to become part of a much bigger picture.
Back in the 1990’s when I was a trainee educator, I did not feel like I was making any kind of difference, just a “small fish in a big pond”. But with experience and finding my voice through professional learning, I could see how an Early Childhood Professional makes such a difference in raising quality outcomes for children.
That statement “having a voice” is so important. When introducing yourself to others, how do we highlight the importance of our role? Stop with the, “I just work with children” and say, “I am an Early Childhood Professional who provides education and care to young children”, “I am a small business owner” or “I am a qualified Family Day Care Educator”. Give yourself some credit for the work you do and the sector we are part of. Explore the expectations in the National Quality Framework (ACECQA, 2017). Some intense stuff? Absolutely! Words like pedagogical practices, critical reflection, assessments of children’s learning and development do take a ‘professional’ to understand and implement in practice. But do we not do all this on a day-to-day basis in our role anyway?
So how can we help ourselves to discover our professional identity? First step; use your voice to define yourself. Second step; value your role. You are a professional! Third step; become part of a group with like-minded people and get yourself out there to showcase the uniqueness of the service we provide to families. We are Early Childhood Professionals! We all play a part in children’s lives. Celebrate yourself and reclaim your professional identity!