Sue McLean - Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Early Childhood Education)
Mechanical engineering graduate Sue McLean had been working in food manufacturing and construction when she realised that becoming an early childhood teacher would be more fulfilling.
“I have always been passionate about creating connections with people and supporting others to discover more about who they are. While my interest in science and the practical ways in which people interact with our environments led me to a degree in engineering and then work in industry, I have always found myself in teaching roles.
“After a chance meeting with an inspiring kindergarten teacher, I realised that early childhood teaching was a way I could feel more fulfilled, while also exploring my creativity and reconnecting with te reo and tikanga Māori which I loved learning as a child.
“I enjoy relating to children on their level and sharing their sense of wonder, and I wanted to be a part of supporting the growth and development of children as they discover who they are.
“I had a great experience on my Bachelor of Engineering at the University of Auckland, and the Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Early Childhood Education) programme had a great reputation within the early childhood profession, so it was the natural choice. The programme was regarded as being one which really challenged future teachers to critically engage with and reflect on ideas, and consider how personal experiences impact on teaching. Also, one year out of the workforce without earning was easier to plan for than taking further time out to complete my studies."
I wanted to be a part of supporting the growth and development of children as they discover who they are.
“The lecturers were all very passionate, knowledgeable, approachable and supportive, and they have extensive experience as early childhood teachers, and could share relevant real world examples and situations they had encountered.
“The lectures and tutorials were interactive, and participation in discussions and hands-on experiences was encouraged. There was a great mix of practical and theoretical learning. The programme included support transitioning into the profession with workshops on CV preparation and lecture sessions with the Teaching Council and prospective employers.
“There is a huge range of resources at the university libraries — your university login is like a golden ticket to explore international academic databases and journals. The library staff are a great resource, and provide excellent workshops to support your academic learning and writing.
“I met an amazing group of fellow students from diverse backgrounds, who were open to sharing their life experiences. The most valuable thing I got out of my studies was to learn more about myself. As the saying goes, we teach who we are, and through the programme I learned more about who I am. The courses challenged me to critically reflect on the information presented, and my own beliefs and values, looking beyond the ‘what’, to consider potential reasons ‘why’ I felt or thought the way I did, and then look at the benefits or implications this may have for teaching and learning.
“In a nutshell, I feel the programme taught me how to think, not what to think — to critically engage with ideas, to be open-minded and consider different perspectives, and to also reflect deeply on why I have formed certain ideas and views.”