The Preschool Teachers Network Singapore (PTNS) Group has been around for a fortnight or so now and I think what it needs are guidelines. There are so many wall posts in a day, that it is easy for one’s voice to be drowned in all that ‘noise’. Yes, this is a good problem- everyone wants to offer their opinion, but the issues often overlap. And then there is the problem of non-EC related wall posts clogging the walls of PTNS. I think Phillip (the founder-admin) realises this too, which is why he created a separate group called Let’s Chat EC in Singapore, for the cutesy photos, quotable quotes, and memes.
Although PTNS is in its infancy and is experiencing what I call teething problems, it has already attracted the attention of the CEO of the Lien Foundation. The Lien Foundation commissioned an international study of early childhood standards called Starting Well: Benchmarking early education across the world in which Singapore ranked 29/45. Philip, the PTNS Group’s founder and de-facto spokesman, will meet with Mr. Lee Poh Wah this week, and in a poll, members have indicated that the issues they want to raise include reviewing teacher’s salary, teacher to child ratio, and teacher’s working hours, amongst other things.
I applaud Philip for his efforts to advocate for teachers, and I am heartened to learn that the CEO of the Lien Foundation is keen to meet with us. This proves that the PTNS Facebook Group has potential to affect change, and perhaps one of the first steps is dialogue.
Judging by the wall posts and comments in the PTNS Group on Facebook, early-childhood educators in Singapore are adopting an advocate role. Here are three things advocates should be!
You are representing yourself and your views, so be sure to do it justice! Is your message grammatically correct, and does it follow a logical flow? Be sure that your tone is respectful and professional. You want to be taken seriously, so never tYpE LyKe dIs.
Being negative and critical is easy; being constructive is not. Offer alternatives or possible solutions- this strengthens your argument and also presents you as a thinker and problem solver.
Being appreciative is good manners! As advocates, we rarely work solo and should we achieve a goal, we ought to thank those who made it possible.
Adapted from Issues, Advocacy and Leadership in Early Education. (Jensen and Hannibal, 2000.)
I hope early childhood professionals in Singapore will rise above feeling powerless and start advocating for children and their families, as well as the early childhood profession!
On a separate note, PHEW! I have never attempted a blog entry like this and it took me for-ever (and some eyeballing from Ryan)! I welcome your feedback!