Michele Peden - Big Fat Smile

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  Published on Tuesday, 06 November 2018

Michele Peden - Big Fat Smile

Library Home  >  Profiles & Interviews
  Published on Tuesday, 06 November 2018

An important and popular feature of our weekly newsletter for early childhood education and care providers is our profile on dynamic and inspirational people working in the sector.

This week we are proud to introduce you to Michele Peden, who is employed as a Pedagogical Thinker in Residence (PTIR), with Big Fat Smile.

What is your full name (please include any nicknames you have been christened with by the children!) and age?

My name is Michele Peden and I am mature age.

Which service do you work in? How many staff and children are in your service?

I'm employed by Big Fat Smile as a Pedagogical Thinker in Residence (PTIR); therefore, I'm not affiliated with one service but collaborate with educators across all our services (27 community-based preschools, 14 Fun Clubs and Artspace).

What is your professional background and career experience?

I have been an advocate for the ECEC industry for over the past 20 years. My involvement with this sector has included:

  • Teaching in various ECEC settings
  • Teaching for over 10 years at a tertiary level
  • Continually liaising with those locally employed in the ECEC sector
  • Project managing an interstate research project with UOW, Early Start
  • Research with Early Start, University of Wollongong as data collector and analyst

This process has required me to continually learn and challenge my beliefs and values pertaining the early childhood sector, constantly reflecting upon early childhood practices and policies in order to improve the quality of education and care for children and families. These various positions have allowed me to network with national and international researchers/colleagues about ECEC pedagogical practices in order uphold my currency within the industry.

What attracted you to a career in the early childhood sector?

I chose a career in the early childhood sector because I wanted to provide high quality education for young children and work closely with their families. Having the opportunity to advocate for children's rights and promote accessible and inclusive early educational programs for young children was the reason why I chose to pursue a career in this sector.

What does a 'normal' day look like for you?

Given the role of a PTIR is an innovative role created by an ECEC provider that has a vision to strengthen the underpinning educational ethos and practice within the organisation, each day varies. For example, I regularly visit our services as I believe it's important to build nurturing professional relationships pertaining to current and future curriculum decisions making, and the teaching and learning aspects of pillar two within our organisational strategic plan, which is education ethos and practice.

I conduct contextualised training to meet the needs of educators at a centre and organisational level, develop and provide educators with resources that will support quality pedagogical practices within our services. My role also requires me to form professional and strategies alliances within the community, other ECEC providers and universities in order to promote current evidence-based pedagogical research and innovative practices.

What makes your role unique?

The PTIR role has been created to support and further develop the educational ethos of all services within Big Fat Smile. This role will focus on numerous aspects of pedagogical practices, which will initially investigate the current theoretical foundations that underpin current educational practices across all services within Big Fat Smile. The purpose of this role is to nurture, support and collaborate with educators to enhance the organisations current educational programs.

In order to do this, the PTIR will work closely with our educators across all our services (Community-based preschools, Fun clubs and Art Space) to develop a curriculum framework that guides the design, delivery and evaluation of our educational programs. This framework will be guided by current evidence-based research and practice, relevant theories, educators' experiences and expertise, relevant national quality frameworks and regulations and continual critical refection.

What are some of the advantages of working in early childhood education and care?

To have the opportunity to collaborate with early childhood teachers and educators internally within our organisation, as well as with other ECEC based professionals from a range of organisations around 21st century teaching and learning practices. To play a role in further enhancing the quality of ECEC education for young children based on evidence-based research that informs high quality practices and learning outcomes for children aged birth to 12 years.

An additional advantage of working in the ECEC sector, is the multidisciplinary approaches used in this sector to provide children and families with better educational support, as well working with a diverse group of professional practitioners with various skills and expertise in the area of educating young children.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing the sector?

An ongoing challenge for our sector is how the public perceives and values early childhood education and care services. The views of the ECEC industry are largely driven by the media, positioning ECEC services as an opportunity to increase women's position in the workforce and supporting the view that ECEC services are places where children can be 'looked after'. The mention of education and the benefits supporting the development of our young children in a play-based environment never seems to get a mention.

Additional challenges faced by the ECEC sector include the government's commitment to sufficiently fund the ECEC sector to support the view that all children have an entitlement to access early education services, just like all children are given an opportunity to access primary education. Often vulnerable families are unable to access educational service due to the high costs of accessing ECEC services, which has the potential to promote an inequitable education system that is only available for those families who can afford it.

Another concern is the consistent barriers associated with attracting and retaining female and male teacher trained educators into a sector. Currently an ECEC teacher's wages are not in line with primary teachers, despite the training ECEC teachers undergo and the fact they are required to complete a 4-year degree. The recognition of their knowledge, skills and qualifications is not yet fully recognised.

This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Tuesday, 04 February 2020