An Unconventional Mid-Career Switch Which Became A Lifelong Passion
Our recent Professional Development Programme (PDP) for Centre Leaders and Lead Educators Graduate shared about his mid-career switch and how he benefitted professionally from the PDP!
When Wayne Lin started his IT profession upon graduation many years ago, he had never pictured himself teaching in a classroom full of eager-eyed young children, nor discussing at lengths with other Early Childhood (EC) educators about strategies to nurture the interest of reading in young children.
Wayne Lin, Centre Principal at My First Skool at Blk 164 Rivervale Crescent
The Centre Principal at My First Skool at Blk 164 Rivervale Crescent candidly described his mid-career switch from the IT industry to the EC sector 14 years ago as a “paradigm shift”. Back then, he noticed the national focus gearing towards the EC sector and the mission of paving the future of our next generation from young had resonated deeply. Following his instinct and motivation to develop himself professionally in a different area, Wayne left his IT career of 12 years and leaped into his new job as a trainee teacher with My First Skool. “It was a refreshing change from the corporate world to a classroom setting. Interestingly, I found myself deriving happiness from seeing the joy of learning in children, as well as satisfaction from witnessing their growth.”
Wayne Lin (left) interacting with children at his centre
This career switch was not without challenges for Wayne. There were doubts amongst his colleagues and peers when he first started working in the preschool, especially with him being one of the few male educators in the sector. He however remained resolute and persevered to focus on developing professionally as an educator. For instance, he never thought he was good in arts, but he learnt art techniques as an effective facilitation skill to cultivate interests in children. As he developed, he was exposed to different leadership styles and gained skills from mentors, which built his confidence to subsequently take up leadership roles. His passion, pride and professionalism as an EC educator eventually changed his colleagues and peers’ perception of him.
Wayne is now a Centre Principal for five years. He views his EC journey as a continuous learning process and is a strong advocate. “I believe in building a learning culture based on good teamwork and collaboration, through active sharing of ideas and experiences amongst educators. When our educators embody the spirit of lifelong learning, we can in turn build strong learning foundations in our children.” Based on their individual learning needs, he encourages his educators to attend professional development courses to improve their competencies and bring back new ideas, which help sustain their passion. He also frequently engages in dialogues with his educators on how to manage changes and empowers them to take on active roles.
Wayne Lin (left) with his team of educators
In 2019, Wayne immediately took up the opportunity when his nominator, Linda Wang, Cluster Quality Manager of My First Skool, recommended him to join the PDP for Centre Leaders. Linda shared, “As a keen learner, Wayne has always been highly motivated to develop himself, and the programme was a good platform for him to gain leadership skills and broaden perspectives”.
For Wayne, one of the most memorable experiences on PDP was the ECDA-organised virtual study trip to Belgium, Romania and Taiwan, which he attended in his second year. The virtual study trip helped him gain an appreciation of other countries’ EC system and practices, which could be adapted to the local context. For example, he picked up strategies on building parent partnership, such as gaining parents’ buy-in for new ideas through engaging them in conversations and understanding their expectations. He adapted these practices into his centre’s existing process to strengthen parent engagement and help his educators build confidence.
Wayne Lin (bottom right) and his group members during the PDP virtual study trip for Centre Leaders and Lead Educators
The PDP compulsory modules, which he attended in his first year such as ‘The Power of Feedback’ had also benefited his own leadership. It offered him a rare opportunity to seek direct feedback from his educators regarding his leadership and developmental areas. From which, he understood his blind spots better and realised the importance of feedback as a powerful learning tool. Today, he intentionally seeks the views of his educators when making important decisions for the centre. He has also built a closer network with fellow principals in the same cluster by actively sharing his learnings from PDP and exchanging ideas with them.
Wayne Lin (third from right), nominator Linda Wang (second from right) and fellow PDP participants from My First Skool
Given his positive PDP experience, Wayne has been nominating his infant / early years educators and preschool educators for PDP as he believed that the programme could support their professional development. He also encourages leaders to embrace the lifelong learning spirit and embark on the PDP for a rewarding leadership development journey!
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