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What drew you towards working in early childhood education?

Of course, initially it was the children. To be able to choose a career in which you can get paid AND play with lego? Seemed like a no brainer to me. Once I’d taken that first step and enrolled into TAFE for my Cert III, it was my amazing tutors who really cemented my decision. Their passion and energy still influence me today (about 11 years after I graduated). After my first prac of my cert III I realized just how much there is to love about working in early childhood. I learned that if you put in the work and build those all-important relationships, you can foster the development of not only the children in your care, but your families, your co-educators and the wider community. I can’t think of many other careers offering the same opportunity for doing things for other people.

What is your fondest story that makes you proud to be in your chosen vocation?

I often find myself being proud of the educators I work with. One particular scenario which hit me in a very unexpected way was when I was helping support a room leader while they conducted an orientation for a new – very nervous about care – family. When the mum got quite emotional this particular room leader put his arm around her and consoled her in the most beautiful way. Seeing my team flourish in their environments will never get old, and will always be a highlight of my day. I just remember feeling very affirmed that we’d done the right thing having made the decision to have that amazing educator in that room. Made me remember how seemingly little decisions have profound effects on the families and children we have in our care.

What is the biggest challenge you face as a Nominated Supervisor/ Room Leader/ Educator?

My biggest challenge as nominated supervisor is probably the same as every other position in the world of early childhood education… Time. There’s not enough of it, and when I have it what should I do with it first? Should I check in with my staff? Tackle the pile of paperwork? Can I finally relax? I remember once telling my ops manager in passing that I’d spent my free time doing the things I’d otherwise feel guilty for doing in work hours. The little things like rearranging my office, printing off photos for my desk. She reminded me that sometimes those things can be just as important as the seemingly pressing issues. Knowing what to do with my time is definitely a skill, and saving time for ‘the little things’ will always be a challenge. All too often I’ll get to the end of the day and wondered where my time has gone, highlighting how important is to reflect at the end of each day. If I feel myself wondering what I did I’ll make myself sit down and think; mentally ticking off all those accomplishments which might not have been on my “to do” list, and remind myself people before paperwork, and that it’s all part of our (amazing) job.

What do you (really) think of your approved provider? Or what makes you stay on with your approved provider?

Initially I was apprehensive about working with approved providers who have no history in early childhood education. It turned out to be for the best though, as while they don’t have an understanding of early childhood, they do understand the importance of high quality care, and take obvious pride in their centre. They’ve hired industry professionals to lead and mentor us and have built a great support network to help build our centre to the amazing place it is today, and I think knowing and understanding their own limitations shows a great deal of respect for us and our sector. The level of trust they place in the management team to make the right decisions for the centre is great, and while it would have been easy for them to fade into the background, I still communicate with them regularly which I like. 

If you could change anything in the early childhood education and care sector that would bring enormous benefits for children and their parents, what would that be?

The media’s perception of us. Or if not their perception then their involvement entirely. It seems as though every 2 months there’ll be a big whirlwind over some latest hot topic, be it the rising cost of childcare or our low rate of pay. One channel thought the best way to discuss that was by comparing what we earn to that of a carpenter. How’s that going to help?! What should be a professional, critical discussion about pay parity and traditional gender bias had devolved into an argument over ‘who works harder? Carpenters or electricians’. The media always puts us early childhood educators on the back foot, meaning we’re always having to defend ourselves. I would change their divisive tactics and give more mainstream opportunity to our sector to do what we do best; teach and educate in a meaningful way based on the audience. The comment section on a commercial television news report is not the ideal place for that.

 

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