From Cabin to Classroom: Journey of an Outstanding Early Childhood Educator
Professional Development Programme (PDP) for Infant and Early Years Educators participant shares about her career switch as an air stewardess to educator, and how PDP enabled her career development.
Formerly an air stewardess with Gulf Air, Ms Farhana Binte Mohamed Hassan was trained as a Sky Nanny, a professional who assists with inflight childcare and safety procedures. And it was a training session back then on Early Childhood (EC) pedagogies which sparked her interest and eventually paved her way into the EC sector after her stint with the airline.
Switching career to become an Early Years (EY) educator was an easy decision for Ms Farhana. However, her family was ambivalent as it meant giving up a higher paying job. Unwavering in her choice, Ms Farhana joined the EC sector and dedicated her next 11 years to teaching young children. She is currently an Early Years Educator with PCF Sparkletots.
Ms Farhana Binte Mohamed Hassan
Early Years Educator at PCF Sparkletots @ Pioneer Block 987D (CC)
Facing Challenges Head-On
Ms Farhana recalled that it was not easy starting out as an assistant teacher, as she underestimated the difficulties of providing education through routine care such as feeding and diaper changing. Some parents were also skeptical of her ability to care for their infants. Nevertheless, she remained undaunted and adapted over time. Ms Farhana communicated closely with parents to understand each child’s dietary needs and preferences. She also observed the children carefully and learned to express herself more animatedly to gain the children’s attention. While working as an assistant teacher, Ms Farhana completed the Advanced Certificate in Early Years (ACEY) and subsequently attained the Advanced Certificate in Early Childhood Care and Education (ACECCE) to become a qualified EY educator.
Ms Farhana engaging an infant at her centre
She proved herself to be a dependable and well-liked educator among the children, evident from the way they took to her. To young parents who had trouble caring for their children, Ms Farhana would provide professional advice. She even went the extra mile to research their areas of concern outside of working hours and shared the information with them. Her efforts paid off as parents were won over by her professionalism and sincerity.
Ms Farhana’s supervisor, Ms Stephanie Teo (Centre Principal of PCF Sparkletots) affirmed Ms Farhana’s dedication towards enhancing the children’s learning. Ms Farhana also actively contributed to the centre, which included building an outdoor sensory path consisting of various textures and stimulators like carpet grass and musical instruments. This helped to overcome limitations brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and brought the outdoors into the classroom. Her passion and innovation to provide all children the opportunity to play, learn and grow were recognised at the sector level, landing her the Outstanding Early Childhood Educarer Award in 2020.
Ms Farhana (right) with Centre Principal, Ms Stephanie Teo
Driving Professional and Personal Growth Through PDP
As an Educator, Ms Farhana’s edge is her spirit of continuous improvement. Despite more than a decade of experience, Ms Farhana jumped at the opportunity to be nominated for the PDP for Infant and Early Years Educators in 2021 as she believed that it would enhance her professional and personal growth. “Having been in this line of work for so long, many lessons and tasks have become routine. The PDP modules and programme milestones acted not only as a refresher, but also allowed me to get creative with lesson ideas and keep up with the ever-changing EC sector.”
One such module was the ‘Learning Through Play: Building Competence and Skills of New Early Childhood Educators in Facilitating Play’. It helped Ms Farhana gain fresh perspective on the educational value of games such as mirror play, which is typically used to teach children about imitation. “I learned something new after 11 years. I never realised mirror play could be used to teach infants about spatial awareness and depth perception as they interact with their surroundings!” The module also introduced various activities, which she could share with her colleagues to simulate at the centre and even with the parents for them to try at home.
Through PDP’s Showcase of Learning, Ms Farhana also had the opportunity to hone her public speaking skills as she presented to fellow EY educators from other preschools. “One of the biggest difficulties I had to overcome during PDP was public speaking. It was intimidating having to speak with large groups of people, but I gradually found myself becoming more confident when presenting and communicating my ideas.” Ms Farhana has since taken on larger job roles such as hosting an online workshop for parents. These new responsibilities have nudged her outside her comfort zone. Ms Stephanie also recognised Ms Farhana’s growth through the PDP, where “Ms Farhana had gained new knowledge, experience and connections that were unlike previous courses she had participated in.”
Ms Farhana interacting with fellow educators
It has been a fruitful PDP journey for Ms Farhana. “What I enjoyed most about PDP is that it challenged me to be a better educator and pushed me to do my best to enhance children’s learning and development.” Equipped with new skills and competencies, Ms Farhana is excited to impart what she has learnt in PDP to her colleagues so that they can facilitate meaningful play with children and improve centre practices.
Nomination is held once a year and nominations are now open till 17 March 2023. Nominate your Infant and Early Years Educators or be nominated today! Find out more about the PDP for Infant and Early Years Educators here.
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