Setting children up for success

Likun Jin completed a Master of Teaching (Early Childhood) at Flinders University in 2018 and immediately found a role as a programming educator at its main campus childcare centre.

How did your degree prepare you for your current role?  

The courses covered key aspects of teaching from theoretical standpoints to pedagogies in a changing world, which taught me to see, talk and think like an early childhood teacher. Through my professional experiences, I learned to understand the settings and practiced the circle of planning, intentional teaching, documenting, reflecting and evaluating, which proved to be of crucial importance in my current role.

I apply my learning on a daily basis when I am playing and learning with the children, supporting children who have special needs, reflecting on my teaching practices, and working with my team to design the learning program. I am still learning the 100 languages of children, a concept of Reggio Emilia philosophy that I encountered during my study at Flinders and continued to incorporate in my perspectives at work.

What is your favourite memory from your time at Flinders?

Among all the courses, I have to say I was amazed by Dr Sam Schulz’s lectures and tutorials. On my very first day she drew a picture of the landscape of early childhood education for those in lower socioeconomic demographics, which widened my horizon and deepened my understanding of a socially just education. Her critical perspectives towards teachers being researchers in the Australian context have set the tone for my study and professional career as an early childhood teacher. Sam is also a kind and responsible teacher who is always there for her students. I remember the day when she spent her lunch time to read and comment on my draft essay and encouraged me to keep developing my ideas, and maybe secure a job at the school under my study.

How does your current career compare to the career/job aspirations you had as a child?

The job aspirations I had as a child changed a lot and did not feel real to me most of the time. However, I always imagined a different childhood since a young age. What kind of person would I become if I was immersed in another culture and raised differently? What would be the best education for children from diverse backgrounds and how much difference can it make to their lives? When I tried to find out the answers to these questions and thought about the things that I could do to make a child’s life happier and more meaningful, I knew that I had always wanted to be an early childhood teacher.

What has been the greatest accomplishment of your career to date?

I guess my first achievement was making a smooth transition from my role of a student to a professional role of a programming educator. The leadership and my team have provided support throughout my learning journey at work, so I am grateful that I am not alone.

I have to say my greatest accomplishment was that I have built a trusting relationship with the children, the families and my colleagues, which is the foundation that makes all of my other works with children possible. It allows me to work collaboratively with families, to connect with and support their child to develop a sense of belonging, and to understand and extend children’s learning in their social and cultural contexts.

Who has inspired you the most in life – personally or professionally?

My English teacher who taught me in the last year of my secondary school inspired me through her innovative teaching method and caring for students. She was my very first role model and her passion and love for teaching still motives me today.

What are your future goals and plans?

I will continue to learn and grow in the field of early childhood education. Programming is highly skilled work that requires many years of learning, researching and reflecting, and I will keep honing my skills to become better in this field. I will continue to think about children’s development and play, to be truthful and creative in observing and documenting children’s learning, to be present and available in supporting children’s physical, social and emotional wellbeing, and to set children up for future success by adopting appropriate curriculum approaches and pedagogies.

In other words, I plan to be a life-long co-learner and researcher in my role.

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