Helping to shape the ECTs of tomorrow: Swinburne Online’s Tamara Ellis
For Swinburne Online tutor Tamara Ellis, working with the early childhood teachers (ECTs) of tomorrow is an honour, and one which she doesn’t take lightly.
As a tutor, she draws on her own extensive career in early childhood, which began in 2004, when she began working directly with children. Inspired by their learning, creativity and intelligence, she decided to undertake a Bachelor qualification, but was still driven to learn more.
In pursuit of becoming a more specialised practitioner, she undertook masters study with Swinburne Online, and soon found herself looking for opportunities to step into a teaching role with the university, keen to make a difference in the lives of others.
In her current role Ms Ellis draws on over 17 years of experience as a team leader, early childhood teacher, educational leader, assistant manager and many more in the field to mentor and support others.
“I have always been passionate about helping others learn more and helping those who want to be better educators. The educational leadership position allowed me to do this to a degree, but when I studied with Swinburne Online and saw the amazing support that I received from my online tutors during my own studies, I knew I had more to give than just to those in my service,” she explained.
We caught up with Ms Ellis recently to learn more about her dual role at Swinburne Online (as Professional Experience Lead Unit Coordinator and Professional Experience Relationships Manager) and her experience of teaching the Graduate Diploma of Early Childhood Teaching, to get an insight of how she is making a difference for future ECTs and to gather a broader perspective on all things ECEC.
Opportunities and challenges
“There is a great momentum happening currently for better opportunities for our passionate educators to upskill their knowledge, which in turn will continue to build on the amazing opportunities presented to children and families,” she began.
“It really is a time of opportunity for those in the ECEC sector with so much support at policy level, and with real momentum and push for change.”
Despite this momentum, Ms Ellis recognises that the ECEC sector is facing tremendous challenges in terms of workforce satisfaction and retention.
“With the demand for ECEC higher than ever and more shortages in positions, it’s critical that we are providing the right working conditions and expectations of our educators with appropriate qualifications,” she said.
Working with the ECTs of tomorrow
“I absolutely love the passion, excitement, and the energy they bring to discussions,” Ms Ellis shared, when asked about the favourite aspects of her role.
“The type of students who pursue the Graduate Diploma of Early Childhood Teaching are dynamic professionals, who are committed to their educational growth, and who are passionate and enthusiastic about the work they do.”
“They are really engaged and will question each other to learn more and hear each other’s perspectives, which I think is an important quality. With critical reflection taking such a big role in ECEC it’s important for us to understand how to take a step back and look at practices, and question them in a respectful way that helps us grow as educators.”
Guiding and shaping careers is just one small part of what the experienced online tutors in the Graduate Diploma of Early Childhood Teaching do, based on their own experiences in the ECEC sector.
One student who Ms Ellis remembers fondly started her qualification with the intention of working in early intervention services, outside of the ECEC sector, to build on her existing Diploma in Early Childhood skills and experience.
“I had the pleasure of working with her, and seeing her grow throughout all the units. At the end of the course she came to me and said that she was choosing to stay in early childhood, and had gained a position as an ECT to start when she finished her degree. She said it was my guidance and feedback that made her realise she wanted to be an ECT and make a difference teaching children within a kindergarten setting. It was a humbling experience which made me realise the impact of what we do here each day, in advocating for children and for the ECEC sector.”
A qualification with a difference
Advocating for children also means advocating for continuity of care, which is an important distinction in the way the Graduate Diploma of Early Childhood Teaching is offered.
“Being able to complete their placement within their workplace for three out of their four placements has been appreciated by many students,” Ms Ellis explained, noting the close relationships that educators form with the children in their care, and respecting the challenges workplaces face in replacing students who may need to take up to 12 weeks leave to complete professional experience obligations.
Students have also given strong feedback about the value of their online tutors building on their existing knowledge and experience in the ECEC sector.
“Being able to bring that sector experience to the discussion boards to really help students unpack what they’re learning in the weekly modules,” she said.
To learn more about the Graduate Diploma of Early Childhood Teaching, those with a Diploma level qualification and at least five years of experience working in the ECEC sector are invited to visit the website, phone 1300 069 765 or contact Swinburne via the website here or email [email protected] for more information.
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