Focusing on the positives

Andrew McKenna's picture

"Everyone has different ways of learning, so some of my classes are a big conversation about sharing knowledge and experience. My students tell me it's a great way to learn."

Alexandra Aguilar, one of OLA's professional learning consultants, has been on a learning trajectory for most of her working life. 

A qualified childcare worker since 2005, Alex has worked as an educational room leader for many years at various childcare and early learning centres. 

She started work as a nanny, and was so good at it that she became almost too busy. 

"I was successful at that and word got around!" she said.

"I worked with twins a lot, and there is even a special family I still keep in contact with. The girls are all grown up now and at university."

Early on her working life she already felt she was on her career path, and decided to study to take it further.

"I started work at Tennyson Street in Elwood, and I used to bring in furniture like couches for the kids to play on," she said.

"It was very like a home environment back then, and very rare to see plastic. The outdoor settings were grass, and that's where I started seeing the child in a holistic way."

She says before the training even focused on it, she began to perceive the main influences on children - their family, their community, and their spirit.  

"There's more to the child than what you see in front of you, and even when I was starting out I knew to focus on what the child could do. The training back then was what the child couldn't do. I focused on the positives above all else."

Alex spent about six years in Elwood. She had an interlude of a few months on an Aboriginal community in Western Australia, where she says her work with Aboriginal children helped form her philosophy on early childhood development.

"Material values went out the window," she said.

Her holistic view of children's developmental needs and early childhood education informs her teaching at OLA today.

"At the moment I do three to four training days a week in the Shepparton, Bendigo and Kyneton region, which are all OLA locations, and most of my students are in their 20s to late 30s," she said.

"I teach my students first and foremost that if they setting up home-based care, that this is their profession and they should take pride in it. Create the space and have respect for children. I instill a structure in how my students approach their work."

Alex is a recent arrival at OLA, but she says she has found her feet and this is the place wants to stay.

"I understand where OLA's focus is and where we are headed. We have a strong passionate team and we all want the same thing.

"We talk about OLA like it's ours. We want to establish it firmly as a known RTO. There's mutual respect here. I like the way Ujjval listens to us."

Many of her students today are African-Australians, and she says she loves the diversity in today's student body.

She is still studying, still learning, and recently enrolled in an online Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood).

"I want professionals to come into my profession, and I see childcare educators as people who educate children about how to cope in the world," she said.

"We teach children about tying their shoelaces, going to the toilet, opening their lunchboxes. 

"That might not seem important but those skills are about instilling confidence. We teach children about coping with different personalities. If you can develop a confident child they'll be a confident adult."