Embodiment and Affect In The Work Of Educational Leaders In Early Childhood Education And Care

Year: 2015

Author: Nuttall, Joce

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The requirement by the Australian Government for every early childhood service in Australia to designate an ‘Educational Leader’ marks a shift in the locus of responsibility for early childhood professional development from outside centre systems to within-centre development and, in particular, to those individuals now charged with fostering the development of other adults in early childhood services. This presentation draws from a large research program that is attempting to understand how centre-based leaders are interpreting of these shifts, both conceptually and at the level of practice, and which aims to develop effective interventions in leadership practice to support leadership for (adult) learning. The program data set includes transcripts of approximately 100 semi-structured interviews with Educational Leaders focusing on their understandings of educational leadership and their aspirations for changes in practice, both for themselves as leaders and across their centre or service. An unanticipated feature of this data set is the frequency and intensity with which these leaders speak metaphorically and literally of the human body, and the affective forces that impact on their bodies and the bodies of others in the context of leadership practice. Multiple examples are offered in the presentation by way of exploring the implications of ‘body talk’ for thinking about the work of leaders in early childhood settings. The main conclusion of the paper is the need to pay attention to ‘body talk’ not just as metaphor but of actual bodies, in order to develop leadership practices that sustain leaders’ health and wellbeing in settings that demand high levels of emotional labour.