8 September 2021
Daisy Ulain, a trainer and assessor in early childhood education and care at YWCA Canberra, is a finalist in the ACT VET Teacher/Trainer of the Year category of this year’s 2021 ACT Training Awards. The awards are an annual opportunity to showcase the commitment, innovation and outstanding achievements of all those involved in the ACT vocational education and training (VET) sector.
With the award event cancelled due to COVID, we wanted to give her the moment in the spotlight she deserves by highlighting her incredible achievements!
How did you get started in the early childhood education and care sector?
After obtaining a Bachelor of Pharmacy in Pakistan and while waiting for an apprenticeship in this field to start, I began working at a school that provided high-quality, low-cost education to people from low socio-economic communities. Through this work, I developed a deep appreciation of the value of education as a method of escaping poverty and improving lives. I decided to change careers and completed a Bachelor of Education.
After moving to Australia, I have applied my degree to working in the early childhood sector since 2008. I obtained my Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care, which opened my eyes to the completely different requirements for teaching early childhood compared to school age children. I realised the importance of the critical early years in children’s development and their lifelong learning.
At the urging of one of my teachers, I completed a Bachelor of Teaching in Early Childhood Education.
In 2012, my employer, YWCA Canberra, had a position available as a trainer and assessor for early childhood VET qualifications and I was recommended. I realised that I could make a significant difference in this role by giving people working with children the support they need to develop the foundational skills and knowledge to succeed and fully understand the protocols, legislative requirements and ethical issues they will address on a daily basis.
What is your approach to training?
My role is far more than just delivering the training package. It is about helping a person become a good educator both academically and socially. It involves recognising people who have the capacity to work as an educator and supporting them to complete their qualifications.
I believe in teaching from an authentic place and often share my own life experience to help my students understand the case studies involved. I also share experiences from both Australia and overseas, both to increase engagement from students of diverse backgrounds and to give new perspectives so that my students will have a more inclusive understanding, which will translate to their future career.
“Daisy, you are the best teacher in my life. Thank you very much for your beautiful heart and always there for me. I will remember you for the rest of my life.’ – former student.
What are you most proud of about your role?
I believe that, through this role, I can make a significant impact on the lives of both those I train and the children they will educate throughout their careers. This education leads to increased economic participation for the students and empowers them throughout their entire life.
Many of my students are culturally and linguistically diverse women. Being from a culturally and linguistically diverse background myself, I feel I can provide holistic and empathetic support as a trainer.
I work hard to understand any barriers that might be impacting my students’ success, whether that’s social, cultural, linguistic or other. Where I identify barriers, I help students put in place mechanisms to work around them and provide linkages to additional supports available.
What is great about being a trainer in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector?
I believe strongly in the professionalism of the ECEC sector. It is constantly evolving, with new legislation, regulations, research and best-practice methodologies. But it is too often overlooked and considered glorified babysitting.
My mission as a trainer and assessor is to change this perception. My students are educators, not carers. They are subject to a range of professional and legal requirements and make ethical decisions on a daily basis.
I ensure that, at the end of the qualification, my students become educators with the knowledge that it is a valuable profession and they can add value and pride to the sector. They are capable of critical thinking, understand their requirements, and are empowered to take on the responsibilities of their roles.
This translates to the families who engage with my students and the results of the children’s educational outcomes, helping improve the perception of the sector throughout our community.
What has being a finalist for the ACT Teacher/trainer of the Year meant to you?
I am feeling privileged and recognised for years of hard work. I have loved seeing the reaction from my students: not only are they proud of me, but they felt as they were being recognised as outstanding students too.
Regardless of the outcome when the ACT Training Awards recipients are announced, we are so proud of Daisy for reaching the finals of this competitive awards program. She is a winner to us!