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'like Banging My Head Against A Brick Wall!'


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I suppose i am looking for some advice, sympathy and the need to be reminded that some of us are in the job because we really want to make a difference in children's lives.

 

I have recently took over as manger and it is my first 'management' role. I started full of ideas and excitment, full of enthusiams and eager to get my teeth into the EYFS. I embraced the settings and began to identify where improvements and changes could be made in order to fully support each and every child. To encourage their independence, to base their learning on their interests and to see them as people and respect their wants, dislikes and so on.

 

The team i manage have all worked at the setting for 10 or more years some 3 years- but all have been used to a much more structured and controlled environment. Initially when i asked for their thoughts and opinions on changes we could make they were all very supportive and said they liked the changes that were being made, they before had had 'their wings clipped' and it felt good for them to be able to have more freedom within in the setting. 'great' i thought.

 

i ploughed on, but soon realised that with this new found freedom, they did not actually know how to interact with the children, or be able to instinctivley act on a childs interest and extend their learning. I called on my EYT and she guided me in how i could support them, i provided a few structured activities throughout the week, where children could make it their own and they could ease themselves into playing alongside a child and indentifying how they could extend the learning that was taking place.

 

Now i feel like it has all come to a standstill, when something 'new' is thought of or someone suggests and idea it is often met with sighs, head in hands, held breath etc. I just find it so disheartening- everything that has changed or been improved has been for the benefit of the children, and i have this vision of where i would like the setting to go, how we can move it forward and maintain and improve our reputation, i really feel a lack of enthusiasm since the end of last term, and find myself almost dreading going back to be met with staff who, it seems to me were happy to do things because it was easier for them, and dont understand how the changes we have made in line with the EYFS have actually given our children a new found independence and confidence- children are spendling longer at their chosen activites, they are playing alongside eachother, they are not being made to sit at the craft table and be creative just cos the planning says so- they are being creative in their own ways.

 

I really want to stay at the setting and continue to move things forward and i know there will be a light at the end of the tunnel- but ah i just feel very frustrated!!

 

I dot know if any one has ever been in this or a similar position, i have tried my best to encourage staff to think about their role as key persons to children, and how they can implement things they have learnt at training, i am open to them bringing ideas to the table but it never seems to happen, i dont want to be dictating everything that goes on each session and to always been the one to decide what provisions are going to be available the children, i would like them to take the lead and indentify what each child will thrive from but it just aint happening... what to do.... what to do.......

 

 

 

rant over... now reading back feel very silly and hope i do not come across as impatient or condecending! But i dont want to lose that spark of excitment that carries me through each new experience and opportunity to improve!!

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It is frustrating when staff do not get carried away with your vision. I have never put together my own team, I inherited a team and sometimes it is like an uphill battle. People can change and change for the better but it will take constant monitoring from you and in house training sessions to rally the troops. Have you had to do any appraisals yet? If they are filling in forms about their performance at least that gives you a good opportunity to talk to them about the reality of their performance.

 

One of the things I never had to strive for was getting rid of structured activities because we had never really worked like that anyway, most of the staff were more than happy playing with the children, what they didn't like was written observations and planning from observations and if I'm honest they still don't.

 

Just keep hammering home the message, lead by example, if possible send them off to other settings where they can see the kind of working practice you would like to have, your EYAT could point you in the right direction here. At the end of the day, some people do end up in jobs which just don't suit them anymore and if some of your staff realise this is the case for them at least you will be able to hire new blood which suits your way of working.

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Sounds like you are doing a fantastic job hfn.

 

In doing my EYPS and trying to encourage change I was told by my manager to 'slow down' which was difficult for me, but I suppose too much too soon can be offputting for some people.

 

Sometimes in early years, due to funding restrictions, I think new initiatives and trying to involve staff in them can mean asking people to do more and more things in their own time (ie unpaid) and I can see how this might cause some resentment.

 

Other that that perhaps asking some of them on an individual basis to see if there is something in particular you haven't spotted?

 

I must admit when I told a colleague that my EYPS would be coming to an end soon and that I would be 'slowing down', she said 'can I have that in writing', so am not an expert obviously in all of this and will be interested to see what others have to say.

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Oh hfn, you do sound fed up! And please rest assured that it certainly does NOT sound silly, and you do not sound imparient or condecending.

 

I think many many of us have been in situations where people react to change. We all tend to like 'our little rut', and it so often feels risky and hard work to change. So, I think, anyone who is trying to lead a setting through change comes up against people's insecurities. It can be a very lonely and threatening place to be. :(

 

I am glad you have aired your feelings on the forum, because my first thought is that it is good to have people who can understand and support you. I have a few other thoughts, but you will have to sort out any that may 'fit' in your precise situation :o

 

1. Have you talked individually to staff? Do you have 1:1 meetings with staff. It can be a very very good way to find out people's real feelings, and it can sometimes be surprising. I was convinced that one of my staff dislikes changes I was making, but when talking to her on her own she said she thought the changes were much better. You could have knocked me down with a feather!

 

2. Did you write any sort of plan for change with staff? If so, you could review it with them and it is normally surprising what changes have happened that you have forgotten about. I 'pat on the back' can them help to encourage staff that change is not so difficult after all.

 

3. A 'quality improvement' style discussion with all staff may help. I recently printed out the small chart form the Principles into Practice cards showing the 16 committments. I then asked them individually to highlight the 3 committments that they thought we should look at first. At the following staff meeting I gave them the numbers of votes for each one and we strated to discuss the committment that had the most votes. That way they knew I was listening to their choice. We discussed the committment and wrote on flip chart paper first what we thought were our strengths, and only then their ideas for improvement.

 

I don't know if that helps at all, they are just a few things that can into my mind quickly.

 

Good luch, enjoy the sunshine this weekend and try to keep cheery

Gruffalo2 xD

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I must admit when I told a colleague that my EYPS would be coming to an end soon

 

I'm hoping you mean the training? There's not a deadline on EYPS is there?

 

 

hfn, as a fellow manager I can only sympathise. I'm fortunate to have directly employed all my own staff, 3 of whom over the years were parents of children who had passed through Preschool so they have trained with me too. When we piloted EYFS we were having a very 'lean' year and there were just the two of us (one luckily on maternity leave) so we went through the materials together and worked out our own methodology, trying and rejecting lots of different ways of working before settling on the one we have (more or less) now. When our new mum returned in June we were pretty confident with our way of doing things and luckily she quickly came 'up to speed'. Our 4th member of staff had no training so was easy to 'mould'.

 

I think now would be a good time to just 'chill' for the rest of the summer term, sit back and watch a bit and praise the good stuff you see. Show by example how it should be done and ask staff to interact, nicely of course. ("ooh can you just go and take a camera to Suzie to she can photograph her model") Think about the WOW moments of the staff and the children and celebrate them.

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Hello hfn

 

Are you sure you are not job sharing with me !

 

I am in a similar position, working as a new manager (in post/setting one year) in a setting where half the staff have been there over 12 years and half around 2 years - with both sets of people resistant to the others, and none really embracing constant reflection with the aim to improve the setting for the children and staff team. Incidentally, to make matters worse, one staff member applied for the job which I got as an "outsider".

 

I also wanted to empower a staff team who had previously worked under quite a dictorial manager with strict written routines and little opportunity for their ideas to be heard let alone acted upon. However, I feel they may have seen my style of management as weak and as such most have not embraced changes put forward. Upon reflection of myself I realise I need to go slower, one step at a time, even though I sought the teams involvement, they probably saw my reflection upon current practice as criticism.

I have started a course on Managing Quality Standards in Children's Services (in my own time) which is helping me with the process of self-reflection and to understand different staff members learning styles. I will also be starting a foundation degree in September (am I mad!) I am hoping that by doing so, I am showing by example that we all need to 'up our game' and should be constantly looking to update and improve our knowledge.

 

What sound responses you received - I shall certainly be looking to implement some of them.

 

Please post how you get on and share any improvements - i shall be watching with interest.

 

Good luck to you.

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Its a hard task taking over an already established team but dont loose heart, it takes a long time to change habits and it does sound like that staff do want to change but its going to take time for them break their old habits

 

be patient an set small steps to change, possibly identify training?

 

is there a setting near you that you could take your staff to visit? I found it very useful to encourag the staff to think about how we could do improve by seeing other settings working well. it was inspiring to the staff because they can see the ideas in practise and know they are workable

 

It took me years to get my setting changed to where it is now and there is still along way to go

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I am in just the same boat - reading your post was like reading something I could have written - almost word for word. I have come to the conclusion that I can't expect everyone to be 'like me' and I expect too much of staff, so I am pulling back, having an easier last term and will start again with the battle in September. I reaslie now that for the last year I have implemented so many changes and perhaps I just need to slow down.

 

I had thought about arranging staff to visit otehr settings so they can see that the changes we have made in ours are good and not 'just for the sake of it'!

 

You are not alone - good luck for the future and hang in there!!

Edited by Guest
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I am also in the same position, it's incredible to think soo many of us are having the dame difficulties.

I had two LA advisory people in last week and they shared my views - staff not interacting with the children, standing up all the time.

I need to get into the room and model what it is I am expecting and to show so many different people with very different ideas about what they should be doing how 'we' do it.

There are different views about such basic things as; children not being allowed to take their shoes off in the room!!!

I often feel desperate about what to do next and then the children remind me off why I stick with it and I'm sure 'yours' do too.

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This all sounds very familiar to me too (as chair).

 

My take on it, is that with the pay in early years so low, some of our staff are doing it for a bit of pocket money rather than as a career choice. You know that saying about 'if you pay peanuts ...'? Of course, I'm not referring to the posters on here, who are clearly dedicated professionals.

 

Although you can coax some people to change over time, there will be others who just never 'see' it. We have one like that and I am crossing my fingers she asks for early retirement.

 

Hope that doesn't sound too pessimistic, and good luck as you continue on your quest for change.

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Hi I have just read your post and It sound just like my position!!!!! WOW and I thought I was the only one! I no it sound sadistic but now I know it's not just me it feel sooooooo much better. Thankyou for your open-ness and bravery. I think you are doing a fab . This new world of standards and EYFS is a hard one for us to sail through and emotionaly a managers job is a hard and lonely one.. Carry on with what your doing, As chickenlicken says your not alone. xxx

 

with kindest thoughts.

 

Kat

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I had thought about arranging staff to visit otehr settings so they can see that the changes we have made in ours are good and not 'just for the sake of it'!

Ooh! How about a setting swap? :o

 

Maz

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I'm up for a staff swap (is that the same thing Maz?)

Yes, that's what I meant! Although I can't imagine any of my ladies coming to London though... but I'll come if you'll have me! :o

 

Maz

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This has made interesting reading, as I had lots of PMs after my blog here and the subsequent article regarding how we changed our practice fairly drastically. Many of the messages were on this line, so none of you are alone and this has been going on for a while now.

 

I would just say, take it steady, don't rush things too much and keep encouraging and praising your staff as they begin to take the new ideas on board. You might like to look at individual interests and strengths, with a view to giving them areas of responsibility which may then begin to give them 'ownership' of parts of the grand scheme. One day they will take stock and realise the progress you have all made together - and be so chuffed!

 

Sue x

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I think the parents are a good judge of noticing how far you have come along, why don't you do a satisfaction survey. I recently did one and despite my frustrations 90% were ALL positive with a few who had a couple of minor issues whihc are mostly beyond my control.

I have also had parents who used to use the centre and now have babies that they are bringin along and they have commented on the differences within the environment and the atmosphere so it can't be all bad!!

 

If anyone would like to come and visit I would be delighted to have them, I am a great believer in learning form each other, I think Maz is top of the list :o

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Ooh! How about a setting swap? xD

 

Maz

 

Brilliant idea.

When my deputy took over a nursery as manager she would talk to me about the lack of interaction between staff and children so we arranged for her deputy to come and spend a morning wih us at playgroup. She was lovely, asked lots of questions took a good look at what we did and went back to her nursery. My friend later told me she'd asked her what she'd noticed the most. Her answer was 'they talk to the children'. :o

It was a huge step for her and she was able to help with getting all the staff to change.

Edited by Rea
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It was a huge step for her and she was able to help with getting all the staff to change.

Its quite powerful isn't it Rea, to see these things at first hand for yourself? I remember one student going home to mum after her first day, and being asked what it was like. "Mum!" she said "they actually like the children!".

 

How sad is that?

 

Maz

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Some fantastic advice on here, as usual :o

I agree with SueR in that if staff are given areas of specialism, supported of course, and encouraged to attend relevant training, they will be invaluable to you. You'll feel you have senior colleagues who want to improve their setting and develop their knowledge and skills, and they'll be able to share the management of less-than-keen staff. You just need to pick them carefully, discuss with them at length what it is you both need, and draw up a written description of the agreed role.

 

Possible areas of responsibility could be:

* PSRN provision

* Circle time

*Creative Art

* Movement and Music

* Language and interaction

* Role play

*The outdoor environment

* Partnership with parents

* Inclusion

* Speaking and listening skills

 

 

I'm sure there are hundreds of others xD

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Thank you everyone for all of your wonderful replies, it is easy to forget that there are other people who are feeling much the same!

 

I have tried to start the term with more postive attitude and step back and assess the changes that we have made since september and what the benefits have been, and we have achieved alot.

 

I suppose i will learn in time to take things more slowly and be more patient and understand that although i have a vision as to where i would like to take the preschool, i must remain aware thta my staff may find this daunting and need time to adapt to change and become comfortable within their roles again.

 

I will be taking onboard some of your ideas, and thoughts and will try to be more reflective and put myslef in my staffs shoes a little more often. I sometimes forget that change is difficult for some and they will need the extra suport and understanding.

 

Many Thanks i will keep you all posted! x

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  • 4 weeks later...

Oh my God reading that is exactly how i felt 9 months ago when i took over in my job and is a classic example of how if people have never had to think about what to do and why they do it they sstop thinking all together. when i started last April as deputy (i'm now manager) the girls weren't even allowed to take dispalys down which i questioned and then took down all of the displays in my room and replaced them with the children's work intitally and then with topic based pictures, writing and photographs. we then continued to rotate them.

Since I became manager in October we have had lots of change and upheaval and some things have been put on the back burner but i have found that giving people responsibility for areas, ensuring that they understand what it is you want them to do even though it seems obviuos to you (i really struggle with this 1), regualar supervisions ( including refreshing child development and going through the EYFS with them) and lots and lots of praise works slowly but surely.

i had a lot of trouble with 1 girl and it turns out she was finding it really hard to get her head round the new ideas as she had had it drummed it into her head for so long that things must be done in a certain way. what eventually worked was giving her the opportunity to see these things in practice at our sister nursery. this made a world of difference. lots of children's centres of local authority nurseries tend to have open days.

things are definately beginning to look up but we do still have a long way to go, the best thing to do is remember that it is a long process and any progress made is excellent and we will all get here in the end.

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my staff all ahve an area that they are resposible for

this is worked on arotational basis -changed every term(6)

 

they all do a well being and involvement on thier area and use fere levers 10 point rating scale

so they look at the area as a whole, the equipment, how it is used, what language and literacy is being used, any psrn, adult to child, child to child and child to adult

 

this is noted down and discussed at staff meeting and that person then comes up with ideas of change or not as the case maybe and an action plan is drawn up

 

each person is also resposible for keeping therearea tidy and topped up

areas change so that keeps interest and different people have different skills so new ideas emerge all the time

 

embrace what skills they all have and work with that

i support where i can and congratulate and praise all the time

but i also say when things arent quite right and im not always tactful

 

hope this helps a little good luck

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