SPOTLIGHT: Case Study – Unfair Dismissal

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Is children escaping the service reason enough to terminate the staff member who was in charge of supervising?

The answer may surprise you.

Last year, a teacher was dismissed after children escaped from a kindergarten near Geelong.

The incident which prompted the dismissal occurred three days prior when two young children escaped from the kindergarten without detection and walked down the street to a nearby primary school. The 4-year olds managed to escape by opening two doors with the aid of chairs and then by climbing a fence to unlock a “child-proof” gate.

The teacher in question was a nominated supervisor at the time and was dismissed from her employment for:

 

  • demonstrating a lack of adequate supervision;
  • breaching the duty of care and responsibilities of an early childhood educator and nominated supervisor;
  • failing to show remorse and accept responsibility.

 

The teacher made an unfair dismissal application.

The Fair Work Commission found that the failure of the teacher to properly supervise the children and allow them to not only escape the kindergarten, but to also allow the disappearance to go unnoticed, was a valid reason for dismissal.

However, the Fair Work Commission also found that the dismissal was harsh, as the company had failed to consider the teacher’s 39-year employment in the role in which time her record was unblemished. The Fair Work Commission stated that the financial consequences to the teacher far outweighed the valid reason for the breach and that the kindergarten had shown some clear deficiencies in their investigation process with regard to the issue.

Together, these two conclusions resulted in the Fair Work Commission finding in favour of the teacher and stressed the importance of employers taking into account their employees career history and also the need for a careful investigation process.

 

To find out more about managing poor performance and termination check out our Hiring, Firing and Everything in Between workshops.

Can I give you some feedback?

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Most people avoid giving constructive feedback because they are worried about destroying relationships. But why does feedback hurt so much?

Giving feedback is a key leadership skill, and creating an environment where feedback is expected and accepted should be the goal of every service.

So, if we know it’s so important why do we avoid it.

At the heart of receiving feedback is a clash between two key human desires:

  1. The need to learn and grow, and
  2. The need to feel accepted and respected for who we are.

We’re wired to enjoy learning and growing. It’s a big part of what brings satisfaction and accomplishment to life. I can point to the many times that I ’ve learnt and grown from feedback in my past.

But we also need to feel accepted, respected, and safe just the way we are now. And that’s why feedback is such a conundrum. It can be enormously threatening because the very fact that someone is giving us negative feedback suggests that the way we are now is not quite right.

But there is a better way!

You can create an environment where feedback is expected and accepted

 

and even in those instances where constructive feedback is given, Educators can leave the interaction feeling reflective and inspired.

The foundation for creating an environment where feedback is expected and accepted is to develop a culture of constant inquiry.

A culture of constant inquiry starts with the ability to ask great questions. Questions are also a powerful tool for promoting thinking and learning. Asking great questions is at the heart of effective communication and the secret to great leadership.

By asking the right questions you can gather better information and learn more; you can build stronger relationships, manage people more effectively and ultimately deliver better feedback.

Questions unlock and open doors that otherwise remain closed. They allow us to see things from different perspectives. It’s important to remove the negative stigma attached to the process of asking questions. The Nominated Supervisor says to the Educator, “Why didn’t you put the bikes out today?” The Educator becomes defensive, “Have I done something wrong?” The Educator fires back.

All too often questions signal a reprimand.

 

The first step in giving great feedback is to establish that questions are simply an attempt to gain more information, to get better insight and to understand perspectives. Great leaders can ask questions which denote a positive sense of genuine inquiry.

Begin your feedback journey by asking great questions

  • What was your vision for setting up the yard today?
  • If you could have any resources you wanted, what experience would you design for the children?
  • What was your inspiration for that experience?
  • If you could have your time again how would you handle that situation?
  • If you were a child, what would it look like?
  • If you were in my shoes, what would you do?

One final thought—we only accept feedback from people we trust. Start by asking great questions and building trust.

To learn more about creating a culture of feedback, join us for The Leadership Academy.

 

10 Amazing Ways to Motivate Your Team

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Help From Teacher

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!

It is critical that leaders create environments that are motivating, inspiring and challenging for Educators.

If Educators become disengaged through poor management, you run the risk of losing your best staff.  Great services provide Educators with a sense of purpose, an opportunity to learn and grow, the resources to collaborate and the encouragement to celebrate strengths.

Old-school management suggests that levels of motivation and the health and wellbeing of Educators were issues to be dealt with by the individual. However, current research shows us that workplaces also have an important role to play in improving employee wellbeing.

Two of the most important factors in keeping Educators intrinsically motivated are a perceived sense of competence and a sense of belonging.

Below we’ve listed 10 experiences which will help both perceived competency and a sense of belonging.

The experiences are not about having fun, they are about:

  • Building connections with other educators
  • Learning new skills
  • Creating a sense of belonging
  • Being challenged
  • Celebrating strengths

And, if a laugh is had in the process, then that’s a bonus.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Family Matters

Do you want Educators to create strong relationship 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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 has to guess which child they have been assigned.

  1. CSI

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 have to 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 have to guess which child has been the subject of the study.

 We hope you loved these ideas. Sign up to receive 5 MORE WAYS TO MOTIVATE YOUR TEAM!


7 Time Saving Tricks for Centre Managers

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Being time-poor is perhaps the biggest hurdle in being an effective manager in an early childhood education and care setting. So many people say “If I didn’t get so many interruptions, I might actually be able to get something done!”

In this post we explore and look at time-saving tools to significantly improve communication with Educators / Teachers and families. These tools can literally save you hours each day.

1. Reduce interruptions by talking to your staff more

Having regular catch-ups with your team 1:1 will mean less interruptions. Ideally, you should meet with each of your staff once a week for 5 to 7 minutes. In this time, you can give them your undivided attention, find out how their weeks been, follow up on any feedback and check in with them. As your weekly meetings become more and more regular, you’ll find your Educators / Teachers interrupt you less. They hold their ideas waiting for the weekly meeting. You can even get them an A4 exercise book where they can jot down their ideas during the week

2. Delegate

Make sure the right person does the right job at the right time. You shouldn’t be the person ordering nappies and baby wipes. Having a manager ordering stock is a poor use of resources. Giving an up-and-coming staff member the responsibility of managing the stock levels is a more appropriate use of human resources. You can relieve that staff member whilst they order supplies and you can use that time to coach and mentor staff in the room.

3. Have morning briefings

How many times do you have to deliver the same message each morning? First into the babies room, then into the toddlers, then to the preschoolers and don’t forget the kitchen and the office. Take the time to have morning briefings., Do them over an intercom system. The room leaders listens on the intercom to the morning briefing, often no longer than three or four minutes. Then they’re responsible for passing on the message to their teams. Absent children, messages from parents, lunches or changes in shifts, they can all be delivered over the morning briefing. At Farran Street we call them the morning POW-WOW.

4. Schedule other people

At Farran Street, we invite potential families to make an appointment to tour the service. Tours are conducted every Monday between 9 and 11am. If potential families pop into the service outside these times, they are greeted and invited to make an appointment for the following Monday. Sales reps, booksellers, handy men, potential families, everyone needs to make an appointment. Reminder emails are sent two days before meetings to minimise no-shows.

5. Use technology to save time

Create a closed Facebook group to help your Educators / Teachers keep in touch. You can post rosters, notices, questions and reminders all to the Facebook group. Staff will receive notifications when the group has been updated, and you’ll be able to see who’s viewed the material. A closed Facebook group is just like the whiteboard in the staff room, only this way, it can be accessed from anywhere at any time and it becomes a discussion rather than just a way of delivering messages.

6. Schedule reactive time

If you have eight hours of office time and you know that normally you’re interrupted at least a quarter of the time, then you should only be scheduling six hours’ worth of work. In the morning, list down all the things you plan to complete that day and leave time for interruptions and reactive tasks. This way you won’t feel frustrated or demoralised when you have to deal with an issue immediately.

7. Use geo-reminders on your iPhone

The iPhone’s reminders App is pretty handy., Add in its location-based abilities and it becomes an absolute lifesaver. You can set up reminder alerts to go off at a certain place. For example, if you keep forgetting to collect those art and craft supplies, your iPhone can remind you the next time you’re within 100 meters of the supermarket. It can also remind you of things before you leave the house or set a reminder to take work home before you leave for the day.

Don’t plan your 2018 meeting dates before reading this!

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Meetings tend to be the bugbear of both staff and managers alike. As you begin the year it might be a nice time to reflect on how to get the most out of your meetings.

Below are 3 do’s and don’ts for having effective meetings.

Don’t

1. General Reminders

Team meetings are NOT for general reminders. “I’d like to remind everyone to supervise correctly.”  “Don’t forget to wear your hat.” General reminders in a large group setting do nothing but decrease morale and promote an autocratic environment

2. Tell off the Entire Team

Team meetings are not an opportunity to tell off the entire team for what one or two people may have been doing wrong. “A few people have been coming in late…can everyone please remember to come in on time.” Telling off the entire team creates a culture of blame and intimidation.

3.  Have large group discussion

Large group discussions seldom succeed in getting the best ideas from your team. Often large group discussions can become confrontational and often only the loudest people are heard. Not everyone operates best in a large group environment.

Do

1.  Celebrate Achievements

Whole team meetings are a great opportunity to celebrate achievements from Educators. Staff meetings should be an opportunity to present best practice from around the service and highlight great work. Remember: What you focus on is what you get more of.

2.  Generate Discussion

Team meetings are a great opportunity to generate discussion and capture ideas from the team. Use a 3 step process to make sure everyone feels included. 1. Individual brainstorm, 2. Small group discussion. 3 large group discussion. Using this process will ensure everyone has a chance to thrive.

3.  Learning and Development

Team meetings are a great opportunity for learning and development. Allow Educators to specialise in areas of interest and use team meetings as an opportunity for them to share their knowledge with the broader team. Team meetings are also a great opportunity to have a guest speaker or run a training session.

With these simple tips, your meetings will be loved not loathed and you’ll get the best from your team.

5 New Year’s resolutions for 2018

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It’s this time of year when we’re encouraged to set goals and chart a new path forward. Eat healthier, get more exercise and save money always tend to be at the top of the list. Let’s look at 5 resolutions you can make to help your team succeed in 2018.

1.Get Fit

We’re on our feet all the time however, 2018 is a great time to get fit with your team. You can use an activity tracker like Fitbit to track your activity during the day. Get started with a Fitbit Group for your team. Maybe even a Fitbit challenge. Fitbit not your style? What about a walking group? Each week Educators get a day with 10min extra on their break to walk around a local park. Build fitness and team morale in one go.

2. Become Flexible

Your team will have people with a variety of strengths, backgrounds, personalities and work styles. To be the most effective leader, you’ll need to modify your leadership style to accommodate the needs of each team member. Being flexible means modifying your approach to create an environment where your staff can thrive.  It’s not playing favourites, it’s supporting high performance.

3. Develop Strong Teams

One person alone cannot steady the ship.  It requires a small team of committed individuals to chart the path forward. Services that succeed have a team of leaders who support each other’s decisions and commit to exceeding expectations. Develop a team of supporters around you and you’ll see huge changes in the morale of the team.

4. Be Mindful

Not everything is going to go to plan. Be mindful, new leaders are going to make mistakes. You’ll need to be mindful and compassionate in your approach. Your role as a leader is to serve your team. Eventually, to make yourself replaceable, teach people well so one day, they can supersede you.

5. Learn a new language

Make 2018 the language of Character Strengths. When you learn the language of character strengths, you talk about what is right with people. Your words will bring them energy, and help them be engaged. There are 24 character strengths, and when you learn to talk in terms of strengths, they’ll feel more motivated, more energised and more connected in your team.

 


 

Help your team reach their New Year’s Resolutions with some of our stand out programs in 2018.

Leadership Skills

Leadership Essentials, learn the fundamentals of leadership in just 4 hours. Special 3-for-2 offer on now.

 

Team Workshops (We come to you) 

Understanding Yourself and Others – This workshop explores individual personality styles and helps your team improve communication and reduce conflict.

The Trusted Team – This workshop explores the language of character strengths. Help your team increase a sense of belonging and protect against burnout.

 

 

2018 Professional Development Program

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We’re very excited to launch our Professional Development program for 2018. 

Congratulations, we’re glad you’re here and that you’ve thought of us to support you in your learning journey. We’ve created a range of learning programs designed to inform, inspire and ignite your thinking.

Farran Street Education delivers learning experiences which leave you inspired and full of ideas. Our customised learning solutions are practical, fun and driven by results. We provide fast-paced, easy-to follow learning experiences specifically designed for Children’s Services professionals.

At Farran Street Education, we find that despite being technically strong and having many years of experience in Early Childhood Education, managing, motivating and engaging other educators continues to be the most prominent roadblock to services achieving quality educational outcomes for children. Our programs are designed to support you in this area and help you and your team be the best they can be. Our programs are designed for Educators who are looking to step up into leadership roles or experienced Leaders looking to refine their practice. We’re here for managers who want to learn new techniques or those who are unsure about where to start. We are here to help you navigate the learning journey so you have the strongest possible team.

Whether you’re a room leader, director or operations manager you’ll find our learning experiences jampacked with the latest research, practical ideas and step-by-step solutions to help you lead and manage your team. We’re looking forward to helping you navigate the path forward and joining you on the journey.

Request a Hardcopy

Or Download to your Computer

We run programs all over Australia and NZ. For booking and more information call 1300 366 896 or email us at education@farranstreet.com.au

 

To Be Fair or Kind?

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How to overcome internal conflict (and be a better stress-buster)

Conflict. Typically, we think of this as an interaction between two people, or groups of people. But conflict can also occur within a person. Ever been in “two minds” over making a decision? “Should I do this, or should I do that?” Sound familiar?

We each have a unique composition of 24 Character Strengths. These strengths fight for our attention leaving us flip-flopping between options and unable to solve the problem. We sit in our conflict and we inevitably feel stressed too. This is when our strengths clash – within ourselves.

 

Here’s a problem I faced with my team.

 

Be fair or be kind?

Let’s talk about Fairness and Kindness. I often struggle when these two strengths come forward and split my mind over the next action I should take. I had a team member who was hardworking and loyal. A solid performer. She had started coming to work late, then sometimes not showing up and only contacting us mid-morning. Her mood had flattened, but then I also saw some unusual outbursts of laughter at very inappropriate times. She was simply not the team member I know and love and her contribution to the team was lowering every week. I had approached her a couple of times to offer an ear, to find out if there was anything going on that I could assist with. I was shut down every time. When I listened to my strength of Fairness, it was telling me to take action to put a stop to this behaviour, her mood was impacting the team. In a negative way. I wanted to protect our team culture – this was only fair to everyone else. But how could I do that when she wouldn’t open up to me?

When I tuned into my strength of Kindness, it was encouraging me to show more compassion, give her more time. Cut her some slack. But Fairness wanted to put a quick end to this negative behaviour that was impacting the team. I was torn over what to do next.

Wrestling with my own two points of view, I realised I was at an impasse because my strengths of Fairness and Kindness were clashing and I couldn’t make a decision.

 

Strength Spotting

Remembering that strength spotting overcomes strengths that clash, I did some strength spotting of my own. I tapped into one of my Top 5 Signature Strengths – Judgement. Using this strength, I could take a step back and consider the bigger picture to put this situation into perspective. This strength is where one considers all information before making a decision. For long-term and lasting gain, I had to offer assistance to help my team member through whatever she was experiencing. If she could overcome it, then it was likely I would get the value from her again. We talked and I made it clear that things needed to change, so we agreed upon external support through our employee assistance program.

 

Just as we do strength spotting in our teams, it’s also helpful to exercise strength spotting on ourselves when our strengths clash. If you are struggling to make a decision, take look at your strengths profile, and bring forward another strength to help overcome the hurdle. You can resolve those clashing strengths by letting go of the dilemma and drawing from another strength to help you through. Not only will you overcome your conflict, strength spotting also helps to Build Resilience. And confidence.

Be a better stress buster

Resilience and confidence help us to better cope with the natural stressors in our jobs and in our lives. We can build these traits by getting to know our strengths, and then using them at every opportunity. This might sound like hard work, but honestly, it’s not. Our strengths are the things we do with minimal effort and the bonus is they have the biggest impact to the environment we use them in.

Here’s the good news. The more you practice strength spotting, the more capable you become at solving problems and making decisions. Guess what that means?

You are better able to deal with stress.

Here’s a recap:

 Feeling conflicted?

Identify which of your strengths are clashing

Do some strength spotting to find another strength and apply it

Take action

Reflect and be proud that you handled the issue

Smile because you solved it.

You’ve got this.

 

To learn about how Strengths Spotting can build a Trusted Team, click here to take a look at our team workshop.

About the author:  Nicole is an organisational psychologist who believes that when people understand their strengths, capabilities and motivators, they can unleash all their brilliance to perform at the highest level and create high performing teams.  Nicole is an integral part of the Farran Street Education facilitation team, and currently facilitates team workshops including Understanding Yourself and Others and The Trusted Team.

Forget The Pecking Order At Work

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Check out this amazing talk by business leader Margaret Heffernan at TEDwoman. She suggests that it’s not intelligence but social cohesion and team members asking each another for help which creates a high performing team.

Did you love the video? Then you’ll love The Educator Leadership Academy. This 2-month program focuses on a fresh approach to leadership, motivation, feedback, delegation, and assertiveness. Kicks off on 18th October. Click here to reserve your place today.

From Friend to Boss

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What’s the quickest way to lose a friend? Become their boss.

Becoming a boss is an exciting time, but it’s also fraught with dangers. Managing people who used to be your peers can be a minefield just waiting to explode.

New managers need to take the time to establish their credibility and authority without seeming like they are now drunk with power.

Let’s look at five (5) quick tips which can help you navigate the minefield of going from peer to boss.

 

  1. Announce the transition

Your role has changed. Ideally, your current boss will announce the change to the team and parents. It’s really important that everyone understands your new role and responsibilities. You can also help to announce the transition by having 1:1 meetings with each of your team members. These can be awkward at first, but if you make them casual meetings and start by asking; “what are your expectations of me as your manager?” “How can I best support you?” You should also take this time to establish your authority as a leader. This doesn’t mean that you should start telling people what to do. Rather you should take the time to listen to their concerns, and assert your authority in a positive way….think extra annual leave, additional resources, learning and development etc.

 

  1. Be a butterfly

Fly around. Be pretty, say nice things, make no enemies for the first 3 months at least. You probably have lots of new ideas about how to lead the team, but you want to avoid making any big changes in the first 3 months. You can make a few small changes in the first few months, especially if they are seen as positive. However, delay any big decisions until after you’ve had time to chat with the team and seek input from them.

 

  1. Distance yourself from your former peers

When you become the boss, the dynamic between you and your former peers changes completely. People start to watch you like never before. You need to recalibrate your existing friendships. Unfortunately, you can’t continue to have the close relationships you had before. Failing to recalibrate those relationships will leave you open to the accusation of playing favorites. You want to avoid staff-room gossip sessions. You might need to be less available for social gatherings. You don’t want to become unapproachable. You just need to signal a slight change in the relationship. You’re no longer their peer. You are now the person who delegates work, gives feedback and manages complaints.

 

  1. Build your new network

You may need to distance yourself from your peers, but a whole new network of people has just opened up to you. You have a new boss to build a relationship with and new leaders who have now become your peers. Think about how you’re going to build your leadership network. You can see the development of your leadership network through 3 different lenses. Operational, personal and strategic networking.  Operational networking is building relationships with people who are going to help you succeed at getting the tasks done. This could be suppliers, families and other managers. Personal networks are largely external to the service and are comprised of people who have similar interests or responsibilities. Finally, and most importantly is your strategic network. This is your network of influences, industry leaders, change agents, experts and people who may seem unconnected to your current role, but will provide invaluable information in keeping you ahead of the game.

 

  1. Demonstrate your leadership style

Now that you’ve been promoted you have a great opportunity to try out different leadership personas. We are not one, but many selves. Our leadership style will be defined by many things, who we hope to become or even who we fear becoming. When you become a leader, you have an opportunity to try out different selves, different leadership styles. Try new things, tell different stories, use trial and error with your leadership practice. Just like you have developed a style as an Educator, it’s now time to develop a leadership persona. How will you delegate? How will you celebrate? How will you communicate? You as a leader, what do you stand for and what do you believe in?

 

Going from peer to boss can be a minefield to navigate, but with the right support and guidance, you’ll become a leader that’s respected and admired.

 

Are you learning to lead? The Educator Leadership Academy is the place to start.

 

About the author:
Adrian Pattra is the Education Director of Farran Street Education. In this role, he manages the day-to-day operational and educational outcomes. Adrian has been involved in adult education for the past 15 years, he holds a Bachelor of Education and a Master in Educational Psychology. Adrian has worked with a range of Children Service’s organisations, providing them with the tools to improve their competency and learning frameworks, while creating a culture of continuous learning.  For the past 20 years, Adrian together with his family has a small long day care service on Sydney’s lower north shore.