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Joy at Work

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Joy can be described as fun plus purpose. During these times of stress and pressure, it’s easy to overlook the need for joy. But in these stressful times, joy is needed more than ever. People intrinsically seek joy and joy helps people connect with each other more powerfully than almost any other human experience.

Keeping staff engaged and motivated can seem like an endless task. Just when you think you have your team on track, something goes off the rails! Providing experiences of joy not only promotes learning but also builds resilience.

If Educators become disengaged, you run the risk of losing your best staff.  Great services use joy to provide Educators with a sense of purpose, an opportunity to learn and grow, and to celebrate strengths.

When these experiences are used repeatedly, they create a stronger sense of personal interconnection, shared purpose, and heartfelt pride across the service.

Below we’ve listed 10 experiences that will promote joy in your service. They provide both purpose and fun.


Backyard Blitz

Break your staff up into teams. Each team gets a $50 budget to spend at Bunnings. The week-long challenge …to create the best indoor learning environment based on sustainability! The winning team gets to choose a visit from either a juice truck, ice cream truck or coffee cart to the centre. Everyone shares in the prize.


Check your skills week

Identify some key Educator competencies and create a week of challenges!

Idea 1. Wrap a pen in a piece of paper with ‘syringe’ written on it. Leave it in the outdoor area and see how well your educators do their backyard checks!

Idea 2. Create a fake emergency and see how your team reacts.

Idea 3. Call the service pretending to be a parent. See how much confidential information educators give your dubious concerned parent over the phone.

Idea 4. Check out their first aid skills by writing symptoms on a doll and placing it in the babies’ room.

Idea 5. Throw a plastic snake in the backyard. See if your Educators know what to do!

The week is about celebrating success; prizes, vouchers, and rewards, all add to the fun.


Eye spy quality interactions

Grab a Go-Pro or digital camera and set it to take images of the outdoor area every 30 seconds. Print the images or bring them up on a screen and get educators to review the images and discuss where they see quality interactions or missed opportunities. Create an amazing discussion about how you can create quality interactions in the outdoor area.


Nappy Changing Olympics

Need to review your nappy changing procedure? Create nappy changing ‘events’ with dolls and challenge each educator to enter. Ideas include the one-handed nappy change, the time-trial nappy change, most interactive nappy change or blind-folded nappy change. What alternatives can you think of? Use the experience to discuss and review the nappy changing procedure.


Gratitude week

At the beginning of the week, everyone is allocated a member of staff. Each staff member is tasked with doing something nice for that person during the week whilst remaining anonymous. Flowers, hugs, thank-you notes, the possibilities are endless! Devious types might want to throw in red herrings by doing something overtly nice to someone who isn’t their chosen beneficiary.


Family Matters

Do you want Educators to create strong relationships with parents? Start by helping them remember the parents’ names.  Give them a week to remember the names and interests of the parents. Now it’s time to hold your quiz night.  You can split the service into room groups. Randomly select a child’s name from each room. If the Educator can identify parent, one’s name, they receive a prize from prize level one. If they can name both parents, they receive a prize from level two. If they can correctly identify both parents and the interest listed, they receive a prize from level three. There will be laughing, joking, cheating and usually, throwing of food. It’s all part of the learning process.


House Swap

This is a great experience for cross-skilling educators and celebrating strengths. In this experience, you allocate an educator to another room. They spend the day in that room and their only task is to list 10 amazing things they’ve observed during the day. They present the list to the room Educators at the conclusion of the day. PS. This is a great way of building inter-room relationships.


Sustainability Mystery Box

Everyone loves a competition! Deliver the same sustainable resources to each room. They have 2 weeks to build the most interactive, age appropriate, learning experience with the children, using exclusively, the resources provided.  The competition can be judged by your sustainability committee and the winning team can win a voucher for their room.


Allergy Celebrity Head

Allergies can be serious, but the learning process doesn’t have to be. In this experience, an educator has a child’s name tacked above their head. Asking only allergy related questions to the team, the educator must guess which child they have been assigned.



Take your documentation to the next level. Film an interaction between a group of children. Place your Educators in inter-room teams, email the recording to each group. Have each team discuss, investigate, and document the learning that has taken place in the video. In a staff meeting, you might like to have each team present their findings.


Bonus experience – Adopt me

This experience helps educators build strong relationships with children from other rooms. Each Educator is allocated a child from another room. They have a month to get to know that child. Needs, interests, likes, and dislikes. After a month they must report back to the Educators from that room. Talking about the information they’ve ascertained and without using the child’s name, the Educators from that room must guess which child has been the subject of the study.


Fill your service with joy and the rest will take care of itself.

Exceed QA7.2 in 3 Simple Steps

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According to ACECQA Snapshots, QA 7.2 consistently rates in the bottom 3 standards to be awarded exceeding. In this post, we explore 3 simple steps to achieve exceeding on 7.2

For many managers, the month of May signals the beginning of performance appraisals; a stressful time in any service, as giving and receiving feedback can be awkward and uncomfortable.

The good news is, they don’t have to be. With the right skills and the right approach, appraisals can be a stroll in the park!

Services that achieve an exceeding rating, need to have a performance and development system that supports high performance. Formal once-a-year appraisals belong back in the ’80s along with Michael Jackson and Jane Fonda. The old-school approach of having a yearly meeting to deliver feedback and assess performance has no place in the modern high-performance workplaces of today.

Here are 3 simple steps to achieve exceeding in QA7.2


1. Include parents and families in your Educator appraisal process

It might seem counterintuitive, but the exceeding themes require services to seek input, guidance, and feedback from children, families, and the community during the appraisal process.

For community and NFP services, this might involve a parent representative on your staffing or remuneration committee. For other services, this may involve including parent feedback in the appraisal process or surveying the parents about staff performance.

Preschools and Kindergartens may like to draw on the voices of children to support the appraisal process.


2. Ensure reviews are completed regularly and form part of a larger performance management process.

Appraisal meetings are just a small component of a much bigger performance management process. Best-practice performance management suggests that feedback should be continual, and the service should have an embedded culture of personal development and of celebrating success.


3. Reflect on the process and effectiveness of performance reviews

Reflecting on how you manage the performance of Educators is key to creating a high-performance culture. Performance management has evolved a lot over the past 10 years. We used to set goals once a year, expect good all-rounders, and give formal feedback.

These days we do regular weekly check-ins, allow people to become subject matter experts and deliver feedback in real-time. Performance management has evolved, and we need to reflect on our approach to ensure we are keeping pace.



About the Author:

Adrian Pattra is a management consultant with a Master of Education (Ed. Psychology). He is currently facilitating a comprehensive webinar series designed for EC and OSHC managers “All About Appraisals”

Leadership – it’s definitely not all in the name.

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Leadership – it’s definitely not all in the name.

Ask … Am I really being the Inspirational Leader my team needs?  Because authority, seniority and prior performance simply don’t qualify us as a Leader.

Look…We need to take a courageous look at ourselves, do we have an inspiring leadership identity?  Can we define it?

Do we; inspire, empower and serve those who we ‘Lead’?  Is the result of our actions, a tangible improvement for individuals and the whole team?

Do we foster relationships with those in our team? Relationships require great discipline, hard work, energy, learning and the commitment to others.

Are we seen as a trusted advisor?  Trust is the pivotal concept of inspirational Leadership.

The trust in you, of others, that you will be there, for the successes and the failures.

Trust is like the bend in a tree branch. Relationships built on trust will bend under the strain of stress and pressure, but when the stress subsides the relationship bounces back.  Without trust, the branch snaps and the relationship fails.

We must resist the urge to think of ourselves first. We must make it our priority to think of others. We must set high standards, then work tirelessly to coach people towards exceeding them.

Leadership skills are an investment, we need to invest in ourselves and by default our team. An inspiring leader understands that after stress will come quiet, after fear will come freedom and after confusion, clarity will appear.

We can’t possibly know it all, we need to lead with humility, defer to others, show vulnerability and put our hand up when we need help.

We have the power in our words to motivate and inspire and this is the true sign of an Inspirational Leader.


About the Author:

Adrian Pattra is a management consultant with a Master of Education (Ed. Psychology). He is currently facilitating a groundbreaking webinar series designed for EC and OSHC managers “The Early Childhood Management Series”