I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, without a team who feel valued, feel trusted and feel believed in, a leader has nothing. Our teams are the very people who, in their own individual and unique way, tie our leadership together, making for the very best early years experience for our wee people.
Just before the October holidays it was announced that at Bowhouse ELC, we achieved grades of six in our most recent care inspectorate. No easy achievement I may add, two years of hard work and nurturing a team which was valued, believed in and trusted was part of the recipe. Not forgetting our amazing wee people, their families and of course those leading leaders. We all need a leader. Someone to look up to, someone to talk to, seek support from and someone who believes, trusts and values you.
Two years ago, as I began a senior position in Bowhouse, I had no idea, just how important it was to lead a team effectively. It’s been two years of steep learning curves; finding myself as a leader, adjusting leadership to different people, the importance of laughter- even when it’s the last thing you want to do, of taking chances, continuing to stand firm in those chances even when everyone else continues in their comfort.
However the biggest learning curve- the thing that has only strengthened over time is the true value of teamwork. In the early days at Bowhouse there were just three of us and I now wonder how on earth we did it all. Free flow outdoor play, independent children helping to prepare snack, woodland visits, stories, songs, rhymes, blocks, planning, learning stories, the list is endless but we did do it. We believed in each other; knew each other strengths and weaknesses but weren’t ashamed of them. That’s why, even though I’m leading marvellous mealtimes across Falkirk, I’m banned from the Bowhouse kitchen, it would seem that actual cooking and baking is not a strength!
Anything is possible, regardless of the amount of people in your team, what really makes it all work is real effective teamwork.
In August 2018 our wee team of three became a team of 15. That in its self was another learning curve. Not only did I pass my senior early years officer hat on, I became an equity and excellence lead (Early Years Pedagogue). At Bowhouse we don’t do anything by halves so just added in the 1,140 expansion, a new senior, EEL, 8 EYO’s, 3 ELC Assistants and a few SfLA’s. As well as 56 wee people experiencing 1,140 for the first time we had a lovely new setting to set up. Phew! I’m exhausted just thinking about it. However a year on, it seems that we’ve always been together. I suppose that’s because in the early days, as an Early Years Pedagogue, I relied on the team to step up and push fo excellence and boy did they deliver. It soon became apparent how different each member of the team was. Each creative, curious and exciting in their own way- even then I knew 1,140 was the best thing to happen to us.
Over the course of the last year we’ve come to respect and value each other for who we are. Claire for her never ending calmness, kindness and positive outlook as well as being the best SEYO! Jacqui for her nurturing and soothing ways with our wee people and families and can do attitude. Teresa for her passion of all things stories, music and rhyme- missed her calling to the stage so is our resident songstress in Bowhouse. Jennifer who has embraced Froebel and transformed our concrete jungle into a gardeners haven, always taking the time to involve our wee people, each and everyone of them. Rachel for her sense of humour- always knowing when a wee laugh is needed, Rachel’s knowledge of family support makes her our go to person when we need to chat. Kimberley’s relationship with her families and the way she knows what they need and how to get it, makes sure our wee people have the best experience, a marvellous mealtime marvel is our Kimberley. Lynne our outdoor warrior has also developed our wee people’s experiences outdoors and has a way of drawing a crowd of wee people, where ever she is, this alone speaks volumes. Kirstie, whose hidden talents include knowing baby shark word by word, provides our children with the love and nurture they need. Always a nurturing soul for our families too is our Kirstie. Emma, just recently returned from maternity leave, is as positive as you will find. Always willing to try new things out and learn, When Jodie walks in our door at 11am, your always sure to know as a chorus of “It’s Jodie’” takes place as our wee people run up to welcome her. That in itself speaks for the kind and caring practitioner Jodie is. Rachel , quietly confident as she reads stories in a relaxing voice, so much so we all need some quiet time. Mel whose enthusiasm for learning shines through as her ever curious practice means it’s all teach, all learn in Bowhouse.
In light of our excellent inspection, I felt it was important to take the time to speak of the Bowhouse ELC team, let you know a little of them and the amazing work they do EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement and glow of an excellent report, however we know we can’t become complacent. That excellence has to be maintained, boundaries need to be pushed, innovation needs to happen.
It is as simple as this, without them- the team, excellence would not happen. Confident, independent, successful and curious wee people would not be moving on in the world without the team.
I would not be a leader without a team who supports me, challenges me, praises me, reigns me in (it happens daily!) and most importantly works with me.
Without them I’m just a person with an idea and what good is that, when you have no one to share it with?