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Petrina Boles, early childhood teacher, Minifie Park Early Childhood Centre

The Leading People in Early Childhood Settings course provided the ideal support for Petrina Boles to assess and adjust her management and leadership style to ensure that she was able to foster a positive working environment in her new role as an early childhood teacher.

Petrina Boles - Leading People in Early Childhood Settings case studyPetrina Boles has not always worked in early childhood education; in fact, she has a business degree in tourism management and up until two years ago had held various high-level positions in the travel and event management industries. But a feeling that she had always missed her calling was the impetus for Petrina to take her career in a completely different direction.

In 2012, after graduating from a Master of Teaching (Early Childhood), Petrina stepped straight into a teacher role at an early childhood centre.

“It was what I had always wanted to do,” explains Petrina. “I decided to go into early childhood because I believe - and research backs this up - that the two years before a child goes to school are vital to how a child learns.”

And although Petrina was sure that she had made the right decision, the transition from office to early childhood centre was not all plain sailing.

“Starting out as a new graduate in a long day care centre was very different to working in the corporate world,” says Petrina. “I hadn’t worked my way up the ranks and not everyone understood where I was coming from, especially in terms of my management and leadership techniques.”

In her search for guidance and ideas on how to “reignite and adjust some of the principles” that she had drawn on in her previous work for an early childhood situation, Petrina enrolled in the Leading People in Early Childhood Settings course at Bastow.

Petrina Boles and her team “I wanted to restructure what I already knew to suit this new setting, which is exactly what the course did, and it did it very, very well,” she says.

The course particularly appealed to Petrina because of its focus on how to develop constructive, respectful and productive relationships, and the opportunity it gave her to reflect on her management and leadership style to determine how she could make them “more relevant”.

The Bastow course not only gave her “a new way of looking at things”, but it also gave her the confidence and reassurance that she wasn’t the only one grappling with these issues. She discovered that other participants were also looking for support on how to set up and lead a team “without friction”, as well as how to develop a collaborative culture that encourages ongoing learning and development of all staff.

“By about half-way through the course I realised that my team didn’t really have a set idea of who was responsible for doing what, and that this was a really basic thing that everyone had overlooked.”

This realisation changed Petrina’s motivation from “trying to be a leader and delegating everything”  to actually asking people what they thought needed to be done and who they thought was the best person to do it. And with this consultative approach, the team now works more effectively because the “communication is more open and more respectful”.

Ultimately, however, it all comes back to the impact on the children, and Petrina is convinced that a more collaborative management style, together with good time management and a clear role structure mean that staff can spend more time with the children.

“Instead of one person doing everything and getting exhausted, all of a sudden you have a team sharing responsibility for the load and everyone  knows what’s going on, and this creates a more positive experience and environment, which is better for the staff and, most importantly, for the children,” says Petrina.

For fur further information on Leading People in Early Childhood Settings, please visit the Bastow website: www.bastow.vic.edu.au/courses/leading-people-in-early-childhood-settings