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Work ethic

  • 1.  Work ethic

    Posted 12-05-2020 07:57 AM

    I am reading a lot of posts about how ECC is hurting during these times with the pandemic.  I understand that this has brought out more than ever now how important we as ECC teachers are to our communities.  My question is what has happened to our younger generation's work ethic.  After a few years working back in childcare as a infant teacher, I am seeing absolutely no work ethic with the younger teachers.  

    I should note that I am the oldest staff member at the center.  I am 54 years old and still hold a strong work ethic.  There are a few good ones out there, but they are far and few between.  Is it a generation thing or is it because of the pay being so low that it is attracting people who are not totally qualified.  I am also noticing that my director is also scrambling to find good quality teachers so sometimes she has to go with someone who is less qualified and hope for the best.

    It just seems to me that my generation was raised to have a strong work ethic and today's generation simply has little to none that I have noticed.  I continue to do this job as I feel I am playing an important role in nurturing and loving these infants in hope that it prepares them for the next adventure in their tiny little lives.  Is it too much to ask the same from my younger co teachers?  



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    Janine Militzer
    Wausau WI
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  • 2.  RE: Work ethic

    Posted 12-06-2020 08:17 AM
    Hello, Janine. I don't believe that the lack of work ethic in our field is due to age. I have been teaching in ECE for 17 years and have seen and continue to see examples of poor work ethic and unprofessionalism, and age has never been a contributing factor. In my personal experience, I have found a few issues that lend a hand to the widespread unprofessionalism in early childhood programs.

    1. State Requirements
    I live in Florida and I can tell you that the state requirements to work in child care are laughable. Anyone can walk in the door, complete some "training hours", and start working in a child care program. I strongly suspect that many other states have low standards as well. If the standards for working in ECE are raised, people are less likely to see it as an "easy job" and unqualified individuals would be more likely to work elsewhere. Of course, this would also require states to create a path to affordable high-quality education and professional development opportunities.

    2. Low Pay
    The pay in our field is appalling and unacceptable. It is a slap in the face for committed individuals who are highly-qualified and put time and effort into their education and professional growth. I recently saw a job listing for an ECE teacher that paid  $16/ hour and a Bachelor's Degree was required. What a joke. The person who gets that job would be better off finding a job in an area outside of an ECE program. But again, this problem often goes back to our state and local officials. The state doesn't set high standards for people to work in child care and so they don't provide appropriate funding for our field either. How can programs pay highly-qualified staff what they deserve when they can't receive reasonable attention and funding from the state?

    3. Program Management
    A program is only as good as it's leader. I have worked in a couple of different programs and any time I have chosen to leave, it has been due to unprofessionalism and lack of leadership. Going back to the issue of age, all of my directors have been older than me. But I do not see their age as a contributing factor. Sometimes they do not have the proper management training and sometimes it's just their own personal characteristics that make them unfit for a leadership position. While I absolutely believe that states should set high qualifications for program directors, I don't feel that it would completely solve this issue, because the ability to lead often lies with an individual and their choice to be a professional.

    There is a lot of work to be done in our field. If the standards and compensation for early childhood practitioners aren't raised, we should not be surprised to find that it is difficult to hire highly-qualified and dedicated individuals into our programs.

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    Ashley
    Teacher and Curriculum Coordinator
    Brandon, FL
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  • 3.  RE: Work ethic

    Posted 12-07-2020 09:03 AM
    Ashley, I agree with the three potential reasons you listed. I have also witnessed the unreasonable demand on administrators to wear too many hats (enrollment, facilities management, recruiting and hiring) that mentorship and supervision can end up at the end of their list. Like our students, we are all motivated by different things...accountability and recognition are important for some staff to feel motivated to perform. This year I've stepped away from my full time admin role and I'm supervising one team of teachers. I've found that it takes about 7 hours per week to properly supervise and support a team of four teachers. This is not what most centers can afford.

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    Lauren Stauble
    Consultant/Faculty/ECE Admin
    Boston, MA
    feelthinkconnect.com
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  • 4.  RE: Work ethic

    Posted 12-07-2020 06:10 PM
    Lauren, I think that you address a very important point here that I wholeheartedly agree with. It would be unfair for me to not acknowledge the huge responsibility that program administrators have before them. Program leaders are often pulled in many different directions. I am part of the leadership team at our school and have personally felt some of the responsibility that comes with mentoring and supporting teachers in the program while balancing my other responsibilities. It certainly does take time, dedication, and intentional planning.

    I am fortunate to work in a program that is able to provide extra teacher support. It must be very difficult for programs to provide the extra support and mentorship that teachers need when resources are few and the budget is tight. And understandably, a lack of resources, time, and money will certainly have an impact on an administrator's ability to strengthen staff morale and professional growth. I appreciate your thoughtful response and thank you for sharing your perspective on this important issue.

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    Ashley
    Teacher and Curriculum Coordinator
    Brandon, FL
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  • 5.  RE: Work ethic

    Posted 12-07-2020 09:56 AM
    Dear Ashley:

    I replied to you privately but  . . .

    I hope you will copy your post and put it under the discussion about wages in early childhood education.

    Florida, as well as many other States, do not see EC teachers as professionals. They see them as low skill, under-educated people who can be ignored. Ethics are involved in treating those who care for and educate our youngest children as not worth a worthy wage.
    Thanks for sharing info about Florida.

    Ethics should be separate from the wage issue but it cannot be when the professional preparation of those who work with young children do not come to the work with knowledge about the ethics of the profession or prep to work with young children or leadership experience or training.

    I believe in some ways there is an overlap between the wage issue and ethical behavior. Is it ethical to so underpay teachers and staff that they are living in poverty?

    Nora


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    Nora Krieger, PhD
    Associate Professor Emerita/Past Chair NJEEPRE
    Bloomfield College/NJ Educators Exploring the Practices of Reggio Emilia
    Highland Park, NJ
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  • 6.  RE: Work ethic

    Posted 12-07-2020 06:26 PM
    Nora, thank you for your response. I will certainly take a look at the discussion thread on wages. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

    As a side note, in regard to your comments on ethics, I recently participated in an ECE leadership course. One of the topics covered was the NAEYC Code of Ethics and it truly was one of my favorite topics covered in the course. I have been working in the field for years and still learned so much. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all new teachers had the opportunity to learn about the Code? I believe that it has the power to inspire and empower teachers by helping them to understand the important role that they have in the lives of children and families!

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    Ashley
    Teacher and Curriculum Coordinator
    Brandon, FL
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  • 7.  RE: Work ethic

    Posted 12-07-2020 07:01 PM
    Yes, the ethics code is a tough nut. There are some pieces that deserve a lot of conversation.

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    Nora Krieger, PhD
    Associate Professor Emerita/Past Chair NJEEPRE
    Bloomfield College/NJ Educators Exploring the Practices of Reggio Emilia
    Highland Park, NJ
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  • 8.  RE: Work ethic

    Posted 12-07-2020 04:05 PM
    Thank you for such a thoughtful and well-organized response!

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    H. Yang
    Director
    Montessori Plus International
    Missoula MT
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  • 9.  RE: Work ethic

    Posted 12-06-2020 10:15 AM
    HI, Janine.
    I understand what you mean because I have felt the same frustration with several of our team members. However, Ashley has several valid points also. There's so much that needs to change in our industry, all across the board, from a local level to the federal level. Now that the pandemic has taken over everything, who knows when people/law makers/leaders will take the time to take action and make significant changes to improve things. One thing I still ask is, if all of the challenges that Ashley mentioned are the causes for why there is a work-ethic issue, then why is it just the young people in my organization that don't show any work ethic??? They have the same opportunities as me and other teachers who are even older. I feel that all of the younger team members don't make any effort in the classroom with the children and in their professional career. So, Janine, like you, I do the right thing anyway and I pray that it'll rub off on them, because who knows when society and our local and federal leaders will make the necessary changes to make a difference? Thanks for Sharing.

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    Lynita Law-Reid
    Washington DC
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  • 10.  RE: Work ethic

    Posted 12-06-2020 10:37 AM
    Lynita, I think that work ethic lies within individuals, regardless of age. I don't believe the issues that I listed contribute to the problems that individuals have with work ethic. I believe that issues I addressed allow for people that are either under-trained and unprepared, or perhaps already have a weak work ethic to enter the field. In my previous post, I mentioned the responsibility that directors have to behave ethically and professionally. The same idea applies to individual employees. However, it is difficult to attract highly-qualified professionals with strong work ethic when the compensation does not match the expectation. When we are in the field a long time, we will eventually come across people who have strong work ethic, even though they don't receive the pay they deserve. But as with any field that offers little pay and minimal expectations for training and professionalism, it is inevitable we will have a revolving door, with the majority of people being an ill-fit for the position.

    The requirements for employment in child care and the pay that is received must be aligned with the expectations that we have of professionals. If people have more opportunities to participate in professional development and ongoing education and the state requirements are raised, the people that do not meet the expectation will not get the jobs and the field will be elevated, making way for stronger professionals to enter the workplace. But rather we work in a field that has low standards and no funding, and so when it comes to employees, we often get what we pay for.

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    Ashley
    Teacher and Curriculum Coordinator
    Brandon, FL
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  • 11.  RE: Work ethic

    Posted 12-07-2020 08:36 AM
    I am in my mid-sixties.  The generation or two up from me said the exact same thing about my generation in the 70s.  Now my generation says it about younger people and in between each generation said it about those younger than them.  It's similar to what people say about parents--each generation thinks that those younger than them were too permissive, don't know how to say no, let's their children run wild, etc.  If these were blanket truths I don't know if each generation would be be consistently disappointed in those coming after them.

    I do think that it's interesting to investigate and think about how cultural and technological shifts have an impact on those raised within them.  How does a generation raised on computers and with a wealth of social media approach work, being parents, etc. differently than my generation, or even my mid-thirties son's generation?  But I'm not in favor of painting with such a broad brush when based on one or two factors, including age.  That's why I don't like the phrase "Okay, Boomer".  It implies that we're all the same and all think the same way.  It also erases history.  I don't want to do the same to the generations coming after me.

    At the same time I do acknowledge the tremendous difficulties in finding and keeping good teachers and assistant teachers but I think that others have articulately stated reasons for these difficulties.

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    Aren Stone
    she/her/hers
    Child Development Specialist
    The Early Years Project
    Cambridge, MA
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  • 12.  RE: Work ethic

    Posted 12-06-2020 01:04 PM
    Hi Janine,

    You are not alone in your response to the appearance of a lack of work ethic among those in younger generations than ourselves. I wonder if this is an area we might explore some implicit bias related to differences between generations.

    I believe those younger than us, I will be 70 next year, do not lack a work ethic. I think their ethics related to work are different because we have had different experiences in our lives than they have. The best way to explore this idea is to talk with younger educators about ethics and how they relate to their work. I trust we will learn that some of our beliefs and ideals are similar and some are very different. The conversations could be powerful for everyone and help us learn how to work together despite our differences.


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    Linda Boss
    Instructor
    University of WI - Platteville
    Lewistown PA
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  • 13.  RE: Work ethic

    Posted 12-06-2020 01:09 PM
    I agree this younger generation does not have any work ethic. I have a part time helper in my in home daycare and she is great. She is a student and she is going to school to be a teacher and she brings so many awesome ideas, crafts and learning activities. Maybe your director can work with the local colleges and see who needs volunteer hours.

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    Tara Metcalf
    Mimi's House
    Murfreesboro TN
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  • 14.  RE: Work ethic

    Posted 12-06-2020 06:05 PM
    ​Janine,
    I agree with you and see much of the same thing. Teachers and in my case the daycare workers in the building we share,  who are more interested in 'getting their number of steps in' as the children are outside. These are teachable times just as they are inside the actual classroom. Some just think it's an easy job and therefore don't put out much effort. I am 64 & have been in the profession & with the same employer for 25 years. I have seen it get worse each year.

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    Sue Miller
    team leader
    Child Development Center
    Remsen IA
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  • 15.  RE: Work ethic

    Posted 12-07-2020 07:41 AM
    I completely agree with Ashley and all the factors she stated which might affect someone's work performance.  I believe that a person with a strong work ethic may not always do good work if they are in an environment which is unsuitable for them - leadership, not enough support/resources/ professional development, etc. I have been in ECE for about 30 years as a teacher/director/trainer and I have visited hundreds of centers throughout the state - and I've seen many instances of poor performance (staff not doing work) from all age groups.  I have also seen highly motivated and awesome work being done by all ages, including the very young.

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    Phuong Hoang
    Instructor
    TRAIN Educational & Community Services
    North East MD
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  • 16.  RE: Work ethic

    Posted 12-07-2020 09:14 AM

     I understand that the younger generation has had different life experiences than I may have had.  My strong work ethic has come from watching and observing my parents working hard and seeing how they had pride in their jobs.  I find it sad that that type of pride is not seen much anymore.  I know that the profession of early childhood education is a tough one and there are many obstacles the profession needs to overcome, but we as teachers should be proud of what we are doing.  I mean we are helping teach these young children and we are helping shape the future in a way by positively influencing these children's lives.  I mean we have the opportunity to partner with parents to help shape a well rounded child so they can move onto their next milestones.  

    I am in total agreement that the qualifications for this job is not consistent around the United States and the pay for the job we do is not appropriate, but we as early childhood teachers already know that when we take on the job.  Why take on the job if you can't work with a strong work ethic.  



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    Janine Militzer
    Wausau WI
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  • 17.  RE: Work ethic

    Posted 12-07-2020 02:23 PM
    Hi, Janine.  I empathize with your desire to see compassionate, committed teachers in our field.  But I am confident that we ought not use "generation" as a broad assumption about work ethic.  Each generation is different, but no better or no worse than the others.  Isn't it amazing that there are 5 DIFFERENT generations in the workplace right now!?  My generation (baby boomers) are equally as frustrating to the younger ones (as described often by my generation x daughter! :-} ) ...due to differences in our upbringing, and therefore outlook, abilities, etc.  But work ethic seems to be an individual thing based on so many factors.  I support child care centers and homes in our state with their practices and I have so many examples of people in each generation that do and do not have a strong work ethic.  I suspect it has more to do with the respect our profession gets in our country (wages, etc.).  We need to be lifelong learners no matter our age, and insure that we are GROWTH-MINDED so that we can stay up to date with what science and research tells us children need!

    To your health!

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    Andrea Dekker
    Early Childhood Specialist
    United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona
    Tucson AZ
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  • 18.  RE: Work ethic

    Posted 12-07-2020 02:40 PM
    I agree. We should not paint each generation with broad strokes.

    ------------------------------
    Nora Krieger, PhD
    Associate Professor Emerita/Past Chair NJEEPRE
    Bloomfield College/NJ Educators Exploring the Practices of Reggio Emilia
    Highland Park, NJ
    ------------------------------



  • 19.  RE: Work ethic

    Posted 12-08-2020 07:47 AM
    ​Maybe I spoke in general too - not really thinking this thru. Not that I haven't seen some very 'laid back' younger people working in this field. After reading posts and various views, I have rethought this some. I feel that every generation goes through a period of low work ethic. Thinking back when I 1st went into the job market, I was still young and thought more about what "I" wanted to do than my job. It was there for financial reasons only. I wanted to do what I wanted to do and no more. As the years went by, that changed. Especially when I got into ECE, I 'found' what I wanted 'to do' with my life. Maybe many of the younger people are using their employment in ECE as a stepping stone until they find what they really want to do in their lives and when they do, the work ethic arrives for many. I know several young people still in high school virtually and working in daycare to get ahead financially for after they graduate. Not bad planning, but they aren't going to give 'their all'. I have had co-teachers that did the minimal they had to do and that was it. I saw my mother's work ethic and she was a great model for me. Fortunately, all my children in various fields all have great work ethic. Maybe we should just give some of the younger ones a chance to find their 'niche' in life and the career that fits them the best. Are there some that will never get there? Of course, and we can model and encourage the best we can. In some cases, the lack of ethics isn't that but a cultural part of the person or no example of a strong work ethic to be aware of. I think this is typical in all kinds of employment. The best we can do is to model, encourage, and guide them along the way.

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    Sue Miller
    team leader
    Child Development Center
    Remsen IA
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  • 20.  RE: Work ethic

    Posted 12-08-2020 08:31 AM

    After reading your responses I still think that it is sad that my younger peers find it hard to put forth some effort into all aspects of teaching these young children.  I started my first job when I was 14 as a dishwasher at a restaurant and was a hard worker.  I held several jobs in my lifetime and I put my all into each one because that is how I was raised.

     I understand things are different now thanks to technology we have become a society addicted to our cell phones.  I myself have a cell phone, but it never comes out when I am at work.  I have the ringer off and it stays in my bag.  I will have to admit that when I moved from Milwakee to Wausau I did see less of a problem with coworkers having their phone out all the time which was a plus in my book.  


    I try to give my coworkers the benefit of the doubt in some cases, but when it comes down to the well being of the infants I find myself frustrated that they are not better trained in taking care of these children.  Maybe I just need to take a deep breath and go into work and do what I do and hope my coworkers will pick up on my strong work ethic and see that I put the needs of the children first.  



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    Janine Militzer
    Wausau WI
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  • 21.  RE: Work ethic

    Posted 12-07-2020 10:15 AM
    I agree that the work ethic in the younger generation is poor.  However, I blame a large part of that on how they were raised.  My parents raised me to give an honest day's work for an honest day's pay.  This is how I raised my son.  He is currently working in a daycare while going to trade school.  He is 22 years old.  He complains about people younger than him and also those his age.  He jokingly asks me why I raised him with ethics and morals.  I also agree that administration is having to wear too many hats and do not have enough time to be in classrooms.  I am a CCR&R Quality Coach so my job is to be in the classrooms with educators to model and mentor them.  I have found that some of them are 100% on board with improving and some just talk the talk.  I love my job and it those that "get on board the bus" that I enjoy working with.  I am 100% in this to improve the level of care in our state as are the other 100+ Quality Coaches in our state.  I would find out if each of your states have this program and if so, ask for their assistance.  It is free!!!!!  Good luck to all of us!  Pandemic has hit everyone hard where employees are concerned.  Our state does not even recognize child care educators as essential workers yet they have to be at work for the others who are considered essential to go to work!

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    Deandra Wimberley
    Le Bonheur Comm Health & Well-Being
    Memphis TN
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  • 22.  RE: Work ethic

    Posted 12-07-2020 12:48 PM
    Hi Janine, It is so good to hear from teachers like you who care about how the childcare/preschool community works. Work ethic is so important in our work, because we are the example for the kids and parents.  I have found some younger teachers that don't seem to understand that they need to answer to the director and show respect.
    I am a director in California and we have strict regulations to follow. Everything unusual that happens is written up and sent to our licensing agent.  I also plan a staff meeting once a month when we have training and discussion on our goals for the school and children, and how to get there.  This helps keep the teachers on focus. Usually, I find that if the teachers are included in the making some of the decisions, they will respond positively.

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    Karen Castagna
    Happy Childhood School
    Preschool
    San Jose CA
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