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The importance of respectful and trusting relationships


Leadership in a remote preschool setting - an interview with Jodie Dickinson from Rocky Hall Preschool

In a recent interview, Jodie Dickinson shares her insights about nurturing respectful and trusting relationships with children, families, staff, and community with Jessica Horne-Kennedy, Education Hub Manager.

Jodie is an early childhood teacher and leader from Rocky Hall Preschool. Rocky Hall Preschool is a small preschool situated in a deep and remote part of the southern Bega Valley where the team value diversity and the contribution it makes to the richness of our society. From supporting children and families through experiences of bush fire to embedding an Indigenous perspective in a child-centred program, Jodie will share community perspectives of facilitating a rich and innovative early childhood program.

Can you share a little about who you are, where you are from and what your role is at Rocky Hall Preschool?

I am an early childhood teacher and director at Rocky Hall Preschool in the Bega Valley. I have lived in the Rocky Hall community for 30 years; with my husband, we have built our own mudbrick and stone home while bringing up our two boys up on our remote 100-acre property.

Values of Leadership

When you think of leadership in a small remote setting, what values are important to you?

Leadership is crucial in our isolated community, and it has taken twenty years of working as an assistant with three influential mentors for me to step into the role with confidence and build the trust and confidence from the local and broader community. Bronfenbrenner’s theory and the Circle of Security road map guide my values and practice in my work with children, families and staff to provide a solid foundation for children and families in our disadvantaged community to grow strong in their identity and sense of belonging.

I view child development as a complex system of relationships affected by multiple levels of environments they are surrounded by and interact with. This is the lens I have also adopted in my work with parents, all of the important work cannot take place within the child without the non-judgmental relationships I build with parents and carers. When we are on the same page with families that’s when the child thrives.

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Positive Role Models and Mentors

If you think back to when you first started teaching, what advice or guidance did you receive that you still carry with you today?

In 2001 I attended an Emergent Curriculum Professional development course through TAFE with the director and we both knew that this is reflected our program and practice at Rocky Hall since the 1990s. It gave us the fuel to dive deeper into this child-led teaching and learning model based on relationships with confidence and strategies to build on our program and practice. This still guides my philosophy today thanks to those three directors that had passion and commitment to the children and families in the community.

The Joyfulness of Teaching

What brings you joy and sustains you as a teacher and leader?

The joy of nurturing respectful and trusting relationships with children, families, staff, and the community. The blossoming of young children within the safe and secure space at Rocky Hall preschool. The joy as the children run through the gate each morning into the warm loving arms of the environment, educators and their peers. The joy of parents when they too are welcomed with care and support and a morning coffee.

Igniting the Hearts of Educators

For the Educational Leaders Network Group in February, what are you looking forward to sharing with the group?

I look forward to sharing my experiences and my journey in the hope to ignite the hearts of educators, to acknowledge the work and care that they share each day. I would like to share my journey over the last 8 years, nurturing a respectful relationship with our local Yuin Aboriginal community. This has been the most rewarding experience for me personally and professionally and has changed the lens of the preschool community as we all learn, listen, respect and share language and culture together.

Join Jodie at the Gowrie NSW Educational Leaders Network Group for 2022 - happening on the 24th of February from 5pm -6pm.


Topics: Teaching Strategies and Practice

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