Interview with Suzie Wood, Vice President of Early Childhood Teachers Association (ECTA)
Many people want to work with children but in such a competitive and varied industry, where do you start?
Luckily, Early Childhood Teachers Association Vice President Suzie Wood has a passion for mentoring and coaching the child care leaders of the future. She has worked in the early childhood sector for 30 years, enjoying employment across various positions and roles. She has been a Mothercraft Nurse, Centre Director, TAFE teacher, Kindergarten Director, Project Manager and Professional Development Manager.
She also holds a Bachelor of Education Early Childhood and Masters of Education. Now, Suzie is at a stage in her career where she is able to support others and enjoy mentoring committed and driven early childhood professionals.
Suzie says ultimately, the secret to success is to seek out various mentors who will coach you through different stages of your career. Joining an association like ECTA means you get to meet with colleagues for support, networking and professional discussions.
A successful early childhood professional is someone who is committed to advocating for young children and has a compassionate, professional and committed disposition.
Open Colleges was grateful to sit down with Suzie and offer you helpful insights into the latest developments of the accreditation process, practical tips for getting into the industry and the attributes that make a great early childhood practitioner.
Latest trends in the early childhood education industry
Over the past four years there have been various changes to the national law and the process of accrediting early childhood services. The biggest change has been the implementation of the Early Years Learning Framework, a national curriculum which is the first for Australian early childhood sector.
Another new trend is the requirement of having a university trained early childhood teacher employed in every service (and to have two in every service by 2020). This has created many challenges for the various states except New South Wales who have had three-year trained teachers employed for many years.
The advantages of joining an association like ECTA
Connecting with ECTA means you will have the opportunity to meet on a regular basis with colleagues for collegial support and professional discussions. ECTA also offers an annual conference in Brisbane and regional conferences throughout the year.
Meeting with local professionals allows for the opportunity to network, to discuss pedagogical interests in a local context and share resources and ideas. The ECTA website contains information about ECTA, various professional learning opportunities including video links and a wealth of resources, including past editions of the Educating Young Children journals.
For me, ECTA has been a professional support group, especially as I am from interstate. I have met many new acquaintances but have also made some great friendships and I am now the Vice President of ECTA, looking forward to new ways of supporting the Early Childhood sector. If you wish to know more about your local ECTA group just look up the ECTA website, as all are welcome.
What makes an outstanding early childhood professional?
An early childhood professional is committed to advocating for young children and has a compassionate, professional and committed disposition. Having a commitment to lifelong learning and improving your own teaching practices based on current contemporary early childhood research is the major key in moving towards an outstanding practitioner.
Advice for those seeking to enter the industry
The piece of advice I would offer any new early childhood practitioner is to seek advice and learn from others. Always be open to new opportunities and ideas in your practice and remember children are capable and competent citizens.
What made you want to get into the early childhood industry? How has your career evolved?
I have worked in early childhood for 30 years starting as a nursery assistant and then training as a mothercraft nurse. I moved into long day care and worked in positions from room leader to centre director. From these positions I was part of the national quality and accreditation system as a validator and trainer.
During my 30 years I have also been a TAFE teacher, Project Manager and professional learning manager. During this time I have committed myself to lifelong learning holding an advanced diploma, degree and Master’s of Education. I am at a stage in my career to be able to support others and enjoy supporting and mentoring committed early childhood professionals.
What's the secret to a successful career in early childhood teaching?
The secret to success is to seek out various mentors who will coach you through different stages of your career. Be confident about the career milestones you wish to reach and set yourself career goals with clear steps on how you will reach them.
Be brave and courageous, as this will create better outcomes for children.