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An Ecological Exploration into the Agency of Four Former Early Childhood Teachers
journal contributionposted on 2023-01-24, 03:09 authored by J Ciuciu
AbstractIssues of Early Childhood Teacher (ECT) shortages, recruitment, and retention are of concern in many nations, with ECT attrition being a contributing factor. Simultaneously, scholars argue that neoliberal influences are restricting the agency of ECTs. This article explores the relationship between ECT attrition and agency by re-examining narratives shared by four individuals who chose to leave early childhood teaching in Victoria, Australia. Through an analytical framework grounded in ecological systems, I delve into how agency was experienced in relation to the incidents that led participants to leave the profession at the individual, micro-, meso-, exo-, macro-, and chrono-systems. The findings suggest that upon entering the profession, participants had anticipated and found the need to advocate for their professional aspirations. Notably, their relationships with colleagues, particularly management and leadership, either afforded or constrained their agency. Other system factors influencing their agency, and reasons for leaving the profession, include the everyday busyness of teaching, educator-child ratios, and working conditions as defined by their employment entitlements. I argue that early childhood managers and leaders act as agency gatekeepers and concur with scholars who suggest a need to reimagine early childhood education and care as a public good, and to reconsider current hierarchical structures. This article aims to initiate further research concerned with the agency of ECTs and how they are or can be supported to not only remain but thrive within in the profession.