Inala Community Kindergarten was established by a group of parents in 1968 and moved into their present building in 1971. Inala Community Kindergarten is a vibrant and diverse community, where there is a big emphasis on family. Jill worked at Inala Community Kindergarten as a teacher's assistant from 2002 - 2018 where she was inspired by the teachers who role modelled best practice and supported her own professional journey as an educator. In 2018 Jill completed her degree and obtained her first teaching position in 2019.
Being a part of the inspirational team at Inala Community Kindergarten where growth, conversation and professional reflection inspired Jill to take the next step in her career and become a teacher. She enrolled in the Bachelor Education Early Childhood through Queensland University of Technology. As Jill studied, she was drawn by readings and research, feeling the process of studying built her confidence and set her up as a professional teacher committed to life-long learning. Having the opportunity to work and study developed Jill's skills as she was able to implement the theory into everyday practice.
Jill continued to work full time while she studied and often shared with the team about what she was studying, readings and research. While completing her university degree, Jill was required to complete a research project. The research project inspired the kindergarten team to establish a community playgroup which attracted families who then enrolled their children at the kindergarten. Playgroup has now become an extension of the service offered at Inala Community Kindergarten.
The mentoring partnership
Jill wanted to be able to complete her final step of joining the teaching profession by achieving her full teacher's registration with the Queensland College of Teachers.
Jill contacted the Mentoring Early Childhood Teachers (MECT) program to request support from a mentor to guide her through the process of obtaining full teacher registration in Queensland. Through the Mentoring Early Childhood Teachers program, Jill was matched with Michelle, an experienced mentor. Michelle mentored Jill by establishing clear boundaries, focusing on individual SMART goal setting and utilising the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, especially the resource - An evidence guide for Early Childhood Teacher's. This guide aligns the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers to the National Quality Standards and the Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guideline.
Jill said, "I felt that Michelle and I were able to hold many professional conversations, which drew me to the program, the value of meeting face to face and having Michelle observe my practice became a stepping stone towards further learning and growth."
Michelle said, "The focus I had when mentoring Jill was to develop strategies to get her to push beyond where her strengths lie and work towards building new skills. This strengthened her evidence which aligned with the descriptors in the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers."
As a beginning teacher Jill commented, "I felt overwhelmed at first and initially lost my confidence, the mentor relationship helped me to build my confidence again, developing trust in the mentor relationship supported my vulnerability and allowed me to grow more as a teacher."
Jill had stepped into a stand-alone kindergarten where there was a higher level of professional expectations and more responsibility to ensure every aspect of the program aligned with legislative requirements. Even though there was continued support from curriculum and operational support staff, Jill felt she was in daily survival mode. Having the regular support and access to Michelle, even if it was a quick email or telephone call, made all the difference to her mindset and perspectives on the decisions she was making, therefore providing better outcomes for children.
The achievement – 'it's official'
Jill was delighted and proud of her achievement as it was so much more meaningful having engagement with another teacher who showed an interest in and valued her as a professional teacher, especially after years of dedication to study - Jill had achieved her dream!
Michelle shared in the excitement when she was contacted by Jill after receiving her confirmation from Queensland College of Teachers. Michelle felt professional satisfaction and a sense of pride, being able to watch Jill grow and build her own teacher identity.
Reflective thoughts on the mentoring partnership
It was incredibly supportive to have a mentor, my first teaching position was a huge step up from the study even though I had prior experience working in a kindergarten whilst studying at university. When you become a teacher in early childhood you are a leader in the profession, there is a lot of practical things you are expected to know, which challenged me, I needed guidance, support and advice, having access to Michelle to talk through my thinking and having her encouraging me in my decision making, gave me confidence with my professional approach.
Jill ventured into a new position, where there were new people, routines and responsibilities, with each task done for the first time such as planning for a term, individual children goal setting, meeting legislative requirements. Jill built her confidence along the way. Jill has spent 18 months as a teacher and now is taking on a Director role. Michelle is confident Jill will take her skills, professionalism, and commitment to community partnerships to her new role which will help her meet this new challenge.
Jill has already had contact from the local state school about having a student, this has excited Jill as it is her opportunity to give back to the profession.
"The connection with Michelle has not ended, our association continues as a reciprocal collegial professional relationship." – Jill
Case studies and mentoring studies