Montessori Alliance

Transitions Aren’t Only for Children – Admin

Posted by Administrator on September 23, 2019

When I started this project (research study) I had no blueprint; I had no plan; my aims were to be in the company of children and through my interaction with them to be able to glimpse the world of the child.  I was doing this on a voluntary basis, it was my project, no one was expecting anything out of it therefore I had autonomy and complete freedom within the limits of the policies & practices of the Early Years setting.

Before I had set foot in the setting I had been Garda Vetted but a couple of weeks into the project my friend, who is the owner, asked me for my curriculum vitae & for a copy of my qualifications (for her records), so I gave her those.  Another week passed and she asked me for the contact addresses/emails of my two referees (for her records), so I gave those to her too. I know she contacted the referees because they both let me know they had to send written references to her.  At this point I was beginning to get a bit suspicious.  Surely she didn’t need my curriculum vitae on file or written references from my referees, it wasn’t like I was an employee…but then I got a text.

My friend the owner: “Lyn, would you be able to fill in and be in ratio tomorrow because X has an appointment? If you can’t that’s no problem but seeing as you’re coming over anyway…”

Me: “Em yeah no problem. What time do I need to be there at?”

My friend the owner: “That’s great; thanks a mil 🙂 If you can be here for the morning session, so arrive to set up at 8.30am and finish at 12pm. You will of course be paid for the time 🙂 ”

That’s how I went from being solely a free agent to being part of the paid staff who covered other staff members scheduled absences.  You have to hand it to my friend; she did it very subtly, so subtly that it took me a while to actually cotton on!

Occasionally I was called on to do a couple of days in a row ‘in ratio’.  The first time I did more than one day in a row I was absolutely wrecked. I nearly crawled on my hands and knees to the car at 12pm! I also discovered I am of the ‘be careful’ mind-set, anticipating spillages before they happen so the words “be careful with that” leave my lips before I’m even aware I’m saying them.

I also noted that I needed to work on having a presence or a standing within the setting.  Part of this lack of presence is my undefined role.  As a researcher I am playing with the children as a co-player, speaking their language and interacting with them on their terms. But when I am ‘in ratio’ I am a teacher – someone who is in charge.  Initially I found it difficult to switch between roles but I discovered it was me who was causing the problem.

Why did I think I deserved to be listened to? Why did I think I had to be in charge? Okay, yes I am the adult therefore I have a degree of power over the children already, but the shift from (adult) co-player to teacher shouldn’t be that noticeable. So I turned to the other adults in the room, I looked at my colleagues; watched them play, listen and talk with the children.

The children knew my colleagues weren’t children, they knew my colleagues were ultimately in charge but that didn’t mean my colleagues weren’t co-players. My colleagues inhabited both roles seamlessly; there was no line where one ended and one began. So really the problem was of my own making. I needed to consider how I could transition from the role I have become familiar with, that of researcher, to the role I haven’t inhabited for a long time, that of teacher to young children.  It took a while but over the course of the year I got a handle on it.


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