Here are the top 8 things people should've told me before I decided to devote my working life to the early years.......it may make you change your mind!
1. Cleaning up 'accidents' is part of the job - Think twice if you're squeamish!
Yes, I actually thought I wouldn't have to get my hands 'dirtied' once I started teaching. Part of this might have been a gender thing - I'm a guy, they wouldn't make me clean up the number 1's let alone the dreaded number 2's right? WRONG! I had to do it all and it did take some adjusting. The sight of blood and stubbed toes was nothing compared to having my nose a foot or less away from runny poos. And believe it or not, most teachers have pretty heated debates about what they'd prefer to be encountered by - A runny poo or mucussy vomit....I choose the vomit!
2. It's not just about playing with kids.
When I started in early childhood, I began as a relief teacher which basically meant I was a 'filler' for the day (not to take anything away from the awesome relief staff in early childhood), which means that you take the place of another teacher who might have been absent on that particular day. Interactions with children are the primary functions of a relief teacher so I thought I had it made.....until I began teaching permanently and the paper work started. I have my own personal views on the paperwork teachers are required to do but as a beginning teacher, I felt as if I was swimming in an endless sea of assessment. When I finished my paperwork for the week, I even began dreaming about the paperwork I needed to complete the following week.
3. You'll get used as an example in your training, conferences, and just about every professional workshop you attend.
Things are certain to change in the future (at the pace of the ice caps melting) where women and men have equal representation in early childhood but until that time, we will continue to be the only male team members in our early childhood centres and asked the question "Why aren't there more men in Early Childhood?" more times than we'd care to remember.
4. They'll haunt your dreams!
I was told the other night that while sleeping I said to one of my colleagues, "I don't think that's a good idea Jill (fake name)." And entered into a half an hour discussion, a re-enactment of a recent staff meeting. This was only one of the many, many, MANY conversations I've had with colleagues and children over the years. Even when I'm asleep, I can't help thinking about work!
5. Kids aren't as lacking in knowledge as most adults think they are.
When I first thought about becoming a teacher, my first thought was to go in the direction of primary (generally 5 years and older) because that's where the "fun" seemed to be. The language level was more developed, the conversations more mature and you could actually teach them stuff! What I didn't understand was that in the years preceding 5, the kids would be the ones teaching me. Children I have worked alongside have taught me a different way of acquiring knowledge, learning skills, forming ideas, and developing theories....and all through play! If I hadn't become involved in early childhood, I would still be considering instructional based education as the most effective form of teaching and learning and spoiler alert - It isn't.
6. Every day is different.
After leaving high school, I thought about shooting for the stars - Lawyer, Doctor.....accountant believe it or not. But I learned fairly soon into my early twenties that I wouldn't last more than a couple of weeks in any of those professions, because it's all repetitive. Every day is the same. Same routines, same faces, same boring processes. Early Childhood is completely different. Whether it's going on a bear hunt, dressing up as Princess Fiona and Shrek (guess which one I have to play), or searching for hidden treasure before Cap'n Hook turns up, it really is a profession where no two days are ever the same.
7. We are specialist early childhood teaches, but are called on to be much, much more.
Teacher, doctor, counsellor, social worker, financial adviser. If I expected to explode into early childhood and just pretend to be a super hero with kids all day (which being a young guy I did) then I was mistaken. Versatility is what makes us who we are. A lot of things happen in our environments - from parent separations, to leukaemia diagnoses, to families falling on hard times financially. We start out as teaches, but we become so much more. True pillars in a community, leaders, and advocates.
8. Becoming an Early Childhood Teacher would change my life.
There is nothing I can say that would truly encapsulate how becoming an early childhood teacher has impacted me. The people I have met, the relationships I have formed, the children I have seen grow. I have been involved in early childhood for 10 or so years now and there is nowhere else I would rather be. Teaching isn't just a job; it's a pathway to paradise.
So in the beginning I said it may make you change your mind. By that I meant, change your mind about anything else.