Award winning ECT shares advice for others
The Sector > Workforce > Leadership > Goodstart’s ECT of the Year Kylie Ryan shares her story and tips for others

Goodstart’s ECT of the Year Kylie Ryan shares her story and tips for others

by Freya Lucas

February 15, 2024

Kylie Ryan was one of two winners of the Teacher of the Year award in the national Goodies Award program run by early childhood education and care (ECEC) provider Goodstart Early Learning. An extract of her story, created from a longer form piece, appears below. 


Ms Ryan entered the ECEC workforce after many years as a stay at home parent, starting as an educator before moving into a lead educator role before taking on additional study to become an early childhood teacher (ECT). 


“I’ve overcome many challenges as a single mother of three,” she said. 


“I developed resilience, good time management, and calm navigation of complex situations. These skills help me excel at work. I’m also dedicated to continuous learning.”


Through her personal and professional experiences Ms Ryan has developed qualities such as empathy, adaptability and being passionate about supporting positive development in young children. 


“I was completing my Diploma through Tafe North and did my placement at Goodstart Kirwan Golf Links Drive,” she shared. 


“During this time, I saw educators facilitating children’s learning through play. It inspired me and sparked my enthusiasm. As I transitioned from a student to an assistant, I worked with different age groups. I discovered a passion for working with children under two years of age and extended my expertise to older ages.”


“Later, I found an interest in working with children in the year before they go to school. I can recall the impact of my first kindergarten teacher, who was a remarkable role model. She inspired me to also create positive, lasting memories for children in my care.”


Flexible and responsive


Being flexible and adaptable is a core aspect of her role, and she takes special care to ensure that her teaching methods are tailored to children with neurodiversity. 


Her influence extends beyond her role as a kindergarten teacher, with Ms Ryan also serving as an R U OK? and Reconciliation Champion within the service, as well as spearheading a variety of initiatives to connect children with the community and those in need, such as collecting donations for a local women’s shelter. 


As well as supporting the community, participating in these events and initiatives supports children to develop empathy and a sense of belonging, and contribute to mental wellbeing and inclusivity at the service. 


Ms Ryan leads and mentors others, and is described as being “a role model for excellence, leadership, and service uplift who uses resources and involves children in learning processes.”


What makes an ECT great? 


When asked what makes an ECT exceptional Ms Ryan said that it takes “deep, genuine empathy and consideration.” 


“Teachers need to understand unique needs, emotions, and developmental stages,” she said.


“I approach this by putting myself in the shoes of each child. I think about how I would have liked to be treated by my teacher – with kindness, patience, and respect. This allows me to connect with them and create trust and security. By understanding children’s perspectives, I can tailor my teaching.”


ECTs also need to create stimulating and inclusive learning environments to support their social skills, emotional intelligence, academia and love of learning, she continued. 


“Rooms should fuel intellectual curiosity and foster a sense of belonging. The goal is to help children feel valued, heard, and encouraged to express themselves.


Being committed to ongoing professional development and continual learning is also an important aspect of the role. 


“Personally, I seek out courses and attend workshops. I stay informed about the latest educational practices and child development research. This helps me refine my practice and provide high-quality, contemporary education.”


Advice for new ECTs


“New teachers should cultivate a mindset of continuous learning and collaboration. It’s my number one tip,” Ms Ryan said. 


“Embrace curiosity and openness on this fulfilling journey. Try out new practices and educational tools. Experiment with different teaching methods. Both children’s needs and the field of early learning are ever evolving.”


She also recommends using the power of the ECEC community, within the service and outside, to foster professional growth. 


“Working alongside your team is not just a formality,” she said. 


“Your experienced colleagues are a valuable resource for your professional growth. They are there to offer support and share knowledge. Together, you can collaborate in shaping the best learning experiences for children.”


“Appreciate the incredible potential within the minds of the children you teach. Let them lead the play, for their imaginations are open to offering unique thoughts and ideas. Embrace the uniqueness of each child and be receptive to their perspectives. You’ll create meaningful learning experiences and support empowerment and enthusiasm for exploration.”


Finally, she said, being humble and eager to learn is crucial. 


“Seek guidance when needed,collaborate with your team to create a dynamic environment,” she said. 


“Stay committed to observation, innovation, and child-led experiences. You will enrich the children’s educational journey and evolve as an amazing teacher.”


Ms Ryan’s story, as outlined above, is part of a longer form interview which appeared on the Goodstart Early Learning website, which can be accessed here

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