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Wellbeing During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Perspectives of Australian Early Childhood Educators

Part of the Educating the Young Child book series (EDYC,volume 18)

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic presented unprecedented challenges for the early childhood education (ECE) sector in Australia, adding further pressure to a workforce already grappling with high levels of stress and emotional exhaustion. Research shows that poor educator wellbeing has adverse consequences for the sustainability of the ECE workforce and program quality, but less is known about wellbeing from the perspectives of early childhood educators themselves. As part of a larger mixed-method project focusing on early childhood educator wellbeing within the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, this chapter presents findings from open-ended survey questions completed by 209 Australian early childhood educators as well as subsequent follow-up focus groups conducted with 15 educators in 2020. Thematic analysis revealed that educators in this study perceived wellbeing as a holistic concept, encompassing healthy boundaries, supportive relationships, professional purpose and contribution, and professional recognition and status. Findings highlight that early childhood educators can clearly identify constitutive elements of wellbeing and articulate why their wellbeing matters not only for their own lives and professional stability, but also to support the children and families they work with. The implications from this work for practice and policy include providing flexible working conditions, empowering educators to prioritise self-care, supporting initiatives that foster strong collegial relationships, encouraging educators to take part in ongoing professional learning and upgrading of qualifications, and lifting the status of the profession by publicly acknowledging the valuable contribution educators make to the lives of children and families.

Keywords

  • Early childhood educators
  • Preschool teachers
  • Educator wellbeing
  • Educator mental health
  • Defining educator wellbeing
  • COVID-19 pandemic

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-96977-6_7
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Correspondence to Lisa Murray .

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Appendix: Open-Ended Survey and Focus Groups Questions

Appendix: Open-Ended Survey and Focus Groups Questions

Online survey questions about educator wellbeing
Q. What does educator wellbeing mean to you?
Q. Why do you think educator wellbeing is important?
Q. Do you have any other comments to add about your experiences during the pandemic?
Focus group discussion prompts
Q. Can you please describe what educator wellbeing means to you?
Q. How does your wellbeing impact on your relationships with children, families and co-workers?
Q. If you have any other general comments or feedback about your experiences or wellbeing during this time, please feel free to share them now.

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© 2022 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG

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Murray, L., Eadie, P., Church, A., Levickis, P., Page, J. (2022). Wellbeing During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Perspectives of Australian Early Childhood Educators. In: Pattnaik, J., Renck Jalongo, M. (eds) The Impact of COVID-19 on Early Childhood Education and Care. Educating the Young Child, vol 18. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-96977-6_7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-96977-6_7

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  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-96976-9

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-96977-6

  • eBook Packages: EducationEducation (R0)