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ECE Leadership in our times

Volume 5, Number 1 – May 2017

Editoral

It is timely that the first edition of He Kupu for 2017 follows the theme of leadership as New Zealand Tertiary College celebrates 35 years as leaders in early childhood education. The theme follows on from the 2016 NZTC Symposium that brought members of the early childhood sector together to engage in meaningful conversations on the topic of ECE Leadership in Our Times. This edition of He Kupu extends those conversations providing guidance for practitioners to develop and reflect on their leadership and management skills. A highlight of the symposium was international keynote speaker Luis Hernandez’s presentation where he spoke of five key qualities of leadership – curiosity, confidence, team, communication and fearlessness. The papers in this edition reflect these five key qualities.

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Practitioner Researcher

Leadership is not something we always seek but as teachers in early childhood, there is a need to take up this mantle while being true to one’s own personal and professional philosophy. In this paper, I reflect on my journey as an early childhood teacher and how my personal and professional philosophy has guided me to my present understanding of authentic leadership. I will also consider how this learning can be put into action in an early childhood setting.

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We all have the capacity to inspire and empower others. But we must first be willing to devote ourselves to our personal growth and development as leaders” (George, Sims, McLean, & Mayer, 2007). This is a statement I have certainly taken to heart and is significant and pivotal to my journey of developing towards an authentic leader. In this paper I will articulate my personal and professional values and beliefs regarding authentic leadership, and then consider how I can put these into practice in an early childhood setting.

In this paper, I explore my personal values and beliefs about authentic leadership, as I relate them to foundational leadership concepts and approaches. I make connections to how these values can be incorporated into my practice to enhance my authenticity as a leader.

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Special Edition

Rose Rees-Owens – New Zealand Tertiary College (NZTC) Communications Officer talks to Luis Hernandez the 2016 NZTC Symposium keynote speaker about his unexpected journey from an architecture student to an internationally recognised leader in early childhood education.

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This article reflects a recent symposium presentation that explored ways positional leadership limits opportunities for members of the community of practice to contribute leading practices. As many early childhood environments in Aotearoa/New Zealand become increasingly market driven, a focus on outcomes and accountability have influenced the leadership and management hierarchy. This focus places leadership as situated in a designated position afforded to one or two individuals (Rodd, 2013). The approach advocated in this article provides opportunities to develop mutually supporting and complimentary shared practices of leading, between all members of the community of practice (Wilkinson & Kemmis, 2016). This aligns with leadership founded on collaboration and empowerment of teachers, as well as student teachers, to contribute expertise and abilities, equating to leading practices. Transformation from individualistic leadership to a more collectivist style, promoting skills and attributes individuals could contribute underpins this approach. A kaupapa Māori model of leadership that aligns with a collectivist perspective, is used to challenge understandings of responsibility within the community of practice. This approach invites communities of practice to draw on people’s capabilities, promote self-efficacy and provide space to grow leaders.

Waiho i te toipoto, kaua i te toiroa
Let us keep close together, not wide apart

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This article explores mentoring concepts that have stemmed from an organisation’s long term self-review of mentoring practice. It challenges the contemporary hierarchical, positional leader approach to mentoring and suggests that the power in the mentoring relationship needs to shift to a consultative and collaborative heterarchy leadership style. 

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Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum in New Zealand, positions the parent and child as leaders in the teaching-learning process (Ministry of Education [MoE], 1996). This position is supported by socio-cultural pedagogy, which sees learning as taking place in context of the child’s family and expanded through relationships with other adults, children and the environment (Duncan, Te One, Dewe & Te Punga-Jurgens, 2012; Smith, 2013). Parents and whānau, often see the teacher as the expert however and may consequently be unaware of their prominent role in their child’s early education (Whyte, 2016). This creates a dynamic in which the teachers are taking sole responsibility for the teaching-learning process. Meanwhile children are co-constructing story-threads by creating and re-creating spaces of learning on their own account (Scanlan, 2016). Parents pick up on these threads and will contribute their and their child’s ideas to curriculum planning if this takes place before the learning story is written by the teacher (Whyte, 2010; 2016). Hence obtaining a ‘parent-with-a-child-voice’ before the learning story strengthens the parent’s position and sees the parent and their child together in the role of initiators of learning. In this article the potential for learning that opens up with parents and children in a leadership role is explored, drawing on combined insights from two master’s theses (Scanlan; 2016; Whyte, 2016).

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The lack of leadership research in Pasifika early childhood education requires attention, as policies for improved outcomes targeting Pasifika learners remain an interest for Governing bodies. One such target includes the increased participation of Pasifika children enrolled in early childhood services (Ministry of Education, 2014). Current literature draws attention to strengthening culturally responsive practices, particularly in the critique of curriculum and pedagogy. However, the gaps in research to support sustainable leadership in our Pasifika early childhood settings continue to widen and includes a lack of research that investigates the impact of leadership upon teacher pedagogy. The need for further research within Pasifika early childhood settings is essential to understand how leadership influences and engages Pasifika children within culturally relevant pedagogy. This article will discuss the importance of cultural values, family and community contribution to sustaining a collective approach to education, which in turn resonates with Pasifika ways of knowing, Pasifika theology, ontology and epistemology. Leadership in the spirit of the collective fosters difference and offers potentialities in the learning and collective constructions of knowledge in leadership.

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The benefits of beginning education for sustainability (EfS) in early childhood education are becoming widely known. There is growing concern in the western world that children’s access to the outside world is decreasing and children are becoming disconnected from nature and thus not gaining a foundational ethic of care toward the environment. Concern for the state of the environment and fostering children’s connections to nature has led to a growing number of early childhood services in Aotearoa/New Zealand implementing sustainable practices, however, EfS is not widespread throughout the sector. This paper examines how early childhood teachers can become leaders for sustainability and presents a pedagogical approach that sustainability leaders can use to enable children to become active citizens who enact change for a more sustainable community.

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This paper presents ideas that are associated with authentic leadership. In addition, it is concerned with how aspects of authentic leadership have influenced the direction of the author in a Pasifika early childhood teacher education specialisation program. The concept of the ‘third space’ is introduced and employed to demonstrate the ways in which relationships and communication with those involved in the Pasifika program are enacted. Given Pacific cultures, languages and spirituality are at the core of the Pasifika early childhood specialisation program, the need to develop and sustain structures, processes and conditions for continued sustainability and retention become pertinent issues of concern.

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Book Reviews

This collection of authentic stories and insights outlines a variety of challenges and relevant issues we experience in our own journey towards personal and professional growth in the early childhood sector. Its purpose is for us to reflect on our own experiences, and how we, as determined in the book’s title, can learn from any ‘bumps in the road’. Written by four accomplished professionals and respected leaders in early childhood, this book shares practical, personal and relatable experiences that provoke thought, and the hope for further discussion and debate amongst readers. The experiences and ideas shared empower us to find our own silver linings, and to face our own challenges and experiences head on, whilst inviting us to treat these challenges as an invitation for growth.

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The authors’ aim is to share insights from their research into leadership to assist new and existing leaders to bring about change and make improvements in practice. Drawing on their work over three years of talking to and observing 40 early years leaders in England, the book presents activities which enhance quality of provision: practice leadership. The authors conclude that as well as following certain principles of practice, effective leaders adapt approaches in response to the context and changes in capacity as new leaders emerge in their settings.

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This book focuses on the key role education leaders can play in promoting inclusive practices, equity, and social justice in early childhood education. It is aimed at those already familiar with anti-bias education, in particular, at education leaders who aspire to bring about change and a more just world. The book comprises ten chapters, each covering a different aspect of anti-bias education, and is a useful companion to the earlier work of Derman-Sparks (2010), Anti-bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves.

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Contributors

Anita Croft, Barbara Scanlan, Gail Pierce, Helen Wrightson, Jacoba Matapo, Jacqui Brouwer, Julie Treweek, Lee-Anne Turton, Luis Hernandez, Manutai Leaupepe, Marjolein Whyte, Nicolette Mackwood, Robyn Chaffey, Tania van Niekerk, Tristan Wallace

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