Early Childhood Educators Feel Burnt Out And Undervalued

Early Childhood Educators Feel Burnt Out And Undervalued

Late at night, we are driving along a highway through the remote Kimberley feel area of northern Western Australia. This area known as the Fitzroy Valley. It lies about 3,500 km north of Perth, Western Australia’s capital city, and approximately the same distance east of Darwin, the capital of Northern Territory.

Canberra, Australia’s capital and home to federal government, is approximately 6,000 kms southeast of where we drive. In the afternoon, we leave Broome to head inland to the rivercountry, an area where Nykina, Gooniyandi and other language groups have maintained traditional Customary Law relationships over many generations.

We want to be in Fitzroy Crossing by nightfall, where the famous and extensive Fitzroy River runs. Amy is a local artist and traditional owner in native title customary law. Amy, a widow, has five children and grandchildren. She also has an extended family that lives in the Kimberley and Western Desert towns and communities. We drive onwards until we reach Fitzroy Crossing. Then, we travel further to Bayulu Community, where Amy lives.

We load the vehicle with bags, water bottles and food. Ngurnta informs me that she must visit Mangkaja Arts in order to check if any of her paintings are still available. She wants to know if she has enough money to buy food, such as bread, milk, tea, coffee, tea, sugar, fruit, sugar and tinned fish, and to fuel her trip inland to visit her desert homelands.

Learns That Payment For Her Painting Feel

We visit Mangkaja Arts, where Amy learns that payment for her painting is not ready for her to collect. We then meet up with Marminjiya who is on a lunch break from her work at a local Aboriginal resource agency. Meet Amy’s eldest daughter, Wayawu, who is employed on a part-time basis as a journalist and broadcaster with the local west Kimberley-based radio station, Wangkiyupurnanupurru, and Amy’s mother’s sister, Wapi. Lunch together sitting under a tree not far from the Bunuba-owned Ngiyali Roadhouse.

After lunch, we talk about many things, including Amy’s ngawaji or grandchildren, Mangkaja and a possible trip to the desert. Wayawu suddenly speaks out. Let’s make a book about Amy. About her life. Let’s talk about Amy’s stories. She has a lot of stories and paints. From this moment, a tiny literary and artistic seed is plant. This seed will later refer to thematically by visual storytelling.

Amy says she loves the idea of a book. This is partly because it may help her grandchildren to learn more about her life, as a Juwaliny/Walmajarri woman, who married a Walmajarri male to live in the Fitzroy Valley. Amy makes it clear that she wants the story inclusive. Early childhood educators in Australia feel undervalued and burnt out. Our research focuses on over 200 educators experiences during COVID-19, which exposed the system’s strains and further undermined their well-being.

Pointed Out Three Ways

Teachers also pointed out three ways that their well-being could restore. One educator shared his experience with us. You can’t pour from an empty cup. To do our best work, we need to feel supported in our well-being

The challenges faced by educators have brought to the forefront by the pandemic. Teachers have to deal with emotionally difficult work. They are often require to work long hours and receive low pay. They have limited career opportunities and are not eligible for professional advancement.

This has led to high levels of stress and burnout at work. Many people are leaving the sector. Teachers need to be healthy in order to do their jobs well. Their health and well-being have a direct impact on the development, learning, and well-being of all children in the country. Families, communities, and societies need a stable, qualified, and healthy workforce.

Our research revealed that more than 85% reported negative effects on their well-being from the pandemic. Three key findings show how to support well-being. Education experts spoke about the importance:

  • self-care
  • Relationships with parents, children, and teachers.
  • Recognition for their important work

Self-Care Must Priority Feel

Education professionals spoke out about the need to refocus on self-care in order to sustain their well-being. We all have finally realized that taking our dog on a walk has great merits, and that meditation, mindfulness, and weekly yoga classes are all effective.

Self-care was more than meditation and exercise. Creative activities like baking, clay-making, and knitting were also good for your well-being. To improve their well-being, educators took proactive steps to ensure their health.

Supports are also important. Professional development and counseling were both helpful. Online professional services like Beyond Blue and Employee Assistance Program were used by educators. Some services offered additional support for mental health. The psychologist was very powerful and she gave a few presentations on how to look after yourself.

The Burden Is Lighter Supportive Relationships

Education’s well-being is dependent on the quality of our personal and professional relationships. Solidarity and mutual understanding are possible through professional relationships. Lockdowns increased the value of being able talk, debrief and unload with colleagues at work. This sense of belonging and the strong support from all educators.

Although educators said that the pandemic had negatively affected their well-being and caused them to feel anxious, they reported strong relationships with their children. Teachers’ well-being is based on their ability to engage with children and teach them. It is important to connect with other aspects of the lives of children. COVID taught us that the most important thing is the relationships that we have with our parents and families.

Recognize Their Important Work Feel

Our research found that educators rated their senses of contribution highly. This is evident in workforce studies, which show educators appreciate and recognize the importance of their work with children. Their professional contributions are not always recognized. We were told by government] that we are here for essential workers, without actually being called essential ourselves was a serious blow to the industry as well as to educators self-esteem.

To ensure educator wellbeing during the pandemic, it was even more important that the local level be acknowledged. Families really appreciate the work we do. They gained an additional appreciation for the education they receive for their children.

Research on child development has shown us that there is a continuum of essential learning from birth to eight years old. The Australian education system is very different in how it treats pre-school and school settings. Educators felt neglected in government decision-making during the pandemic and have long advocated for early learning to become a key component of life trajectories.

Important Part Of Life Feel

A system that recognizes that early childhood is the most important part of life. The child struggles to become an adult. We educators know this. That also impacts our well-being.

She is more than just a focus on her. This project focuses on the interconnectedness of family, storytelling, and painting and not on Amy’s personal life.

We visit, be, and talk with each other in a variety of desert and Fitzroy Valley settings and in Perth. While Amy and her children are able to sustain their Aboriginal connections, we also rekindle old friendships with non-Aboriginal people.