Natalie Tunnell found her passion for Early Childhood Education (ECE) as a UCOL student and now she’s passing it on to the teachers of the future.
Natalie joined UCOL Wairarapa’s ECE staff in early 2020 after an 11 year career teaching at ECE centres around the region. She has taught children aged from a few months to 5 years old, but working with infants and toddlers is her favourite.
Natalie’s’ ECE journey began in 2009 when she studied a Level 3 programme at UCOL Wairarapa.
“I was absolutely hooked from the first day,” says Natalie.
“I gained a relieving contract through my UCOL placement and then worked towards my teaching degree. Maryann Corrigan was my mentor when I was a student, so now I’ve come full circle to work alongside her.”
Natalie says teaching at UCOL is a great opportunity for her to grow in the ECE field, as well as refresh her knowledge of the theory she has put into practice.
“It’s great to be able to reflect on my teaching practice and look back at what I learnt during my studies. When you’re in a centre, you don’t often stop to think about the theory itself.”
Natalie says a lot of the principles she applied when teaching young children are still relevant now as she teaches tertiary students.
“There are human needs that remain the same no matter what level you’re teaching; things like predictability, consistency, respectful relationships, nurturing.”
Having worked with vulnerable children and families throughout her career, Natalie feels a great responsibility in training the next crop of ECE teachers.
“I can have reciprocal and respectful relationships with children, colleagues, and families in a centre, but I can make a greater difference for more children if I’m teaching future educators how to be respectful and uphold children’s rights.”
“I have good relationships with early childhood centres in the Wairarapa so I want so send them some really great teachers!”
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