A qualification of the heart - what’s in the heart matters more than what’s on paper

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The company we keep has a huge impact on our experience and emotional well being.

The people we surround ourselves with can either lift us up with their presence, or bring us down.  We know this and are usually careful about choosing our friends. We look for ‘our kind of people’, build our tribe and enjoy our relationships.  

But what about at work?

How important is the company we keep there? The short answer is it matters hugely. The long answer has us reflecting on why we are ECE teachers, and what is our role.

If we see our key role as nurturing a warm relationship with children, we do that best in a team that makes us feel positive and inspired.

It is hard to give our best to children if the energy around us is draining us.  If we see our most important role as being to prepare an environment that supports a children’s natural development and play urges, our team still matters. We'd be best supported ourselves amongst those with similar beliefs, the right attitude to change (neither addicted or resistant to it), and a positive outlook on who children are and what they need.

Our authentic selves

The beauty of being a heart centred teacher is that our individuality matters and we can be our authentic selves.  There is also beauty in the fact ours doesn't tend to be a solo profession. In this relationship focused sector we are normally working collaboratively.  

There are so many wonderful things about this, and some of us are lucky enough to have struck gold in the team stakes - kind, honest, inspired, mature and genuine adults who are solid as individuals, and play well with others.  

Unfortunately this isn't always the case. Sadly it only takes one ‘negative nelly’ to bring a whole team down. One person who is burnt out can colour the team atmosphere more strongly than a handful of passionate, positive people.  Once the team starts feeling affected, the spiral down into negative-ville happens very quickly.

Opt the stakes for an informed choice

The reality is that we'll find ourselves working with people that perhaps we wouldn't have chosen for ourselves.  Or sometimes we did choose but with the very limited information you gain in an interview and things don’t pan out well in the long run.  Meeting someone in an interview is not the same as meeting someone day in, day out, in a job that requires a lot of us.

Getting it right at the recruitment stage is obviously the ideal, and while its not guaranteed we’ll always manage, there are a few strategies that make a truly informed choice more possible:

  • Having a strong living identity for your setting is crucial so you know you what fit you are looking for.  Being a ‘match maker’ is far easier when the partners know who they are, and who they’re not. when you're not sure who the seeking partner.

  • Taking time will really make the difference.  If we're desperate, we'll take what's going. If we can bide our time, even if it means relievers for a bit, we'll make a more considered  choice.

  • Go beyond an interview.  Have a setting visit as part of the process.  A heart centred teacher will not bemoan that step.  They want to get it right too.

  • Remember that it's not just about the person, but about the fit.  Liking someone doesn't make them the best person.  If flexibility is top of the list of needs and a lovely teacher comes in but due to family commitments cannot budge in hours or duties, they are probably not ‘the one’.  Not for this position, at this time.

  • Put thought into your interview questions.  Which questions will reveal the most about who a person is, and what it will be like to work with them.  Remember how deeply that matters. Yes, you're looking for a teacher, but also a team mate.

  • And finally, trust your gut.  Look deeper than just qualifications.  What's in a teacher's heart matters more than how many diplomas they have to hang on the wall.  There are things we can upskill our tribe on. Attitude is rarely one of them.