Sometimes when you meet someone, their passion and positivity is contagious. No matter who you are, you can’t walk away from the conversation without feeling like you are capable of doing absolutely anything that comes into your mind.
That’s what it’s like when you meet with METS Trainer, Teena.
When you log into an online session or turn up to a classroom with Teena, you are greeted with a huge smile and an energy that jumps out at you, daring you to grin back. Teena has been practicing as a trainer for almost 33 years, and she knows how to work a room, even if it’s a just a room of one!
“I love to get newbies,” she explains, still smiling broadly. “Those people who are completely new to the industry and doing a Certificate 3, so I can really guide them, and encourage them through their Certificate and Diploma and even into a Degree. I love mentoring people along their career path.”
Teena facilitates the childcare qualifications at METS, but comes across equal parts dedicated teacher and life coach. Her depth of knowledge about childcare is unbounded, and the little pearls of wisdom she drops seem to apply just as much to the sand pit and sleep room, as they do to life outside the walls of a childcare centre.
“I fell in love with Childcare and with training,” Teena says. “I ran my own childcare centres, and at the time, training just wasn’t what it is now, so it was challenging for staff to deliver the standard of care I expected for each and every child entrusted to us.”
Rather than let that stand in her way, as she does with any problem she encounters, Teena decided it was her job to do something about it. She entered the training space and worked with a number of organisations to begin to deliver high-quality training for childcare staff.
“I was so privileged in my early career to be able to spend time at a refuge for young people, a sanctuary for children born to those affected by drugs and other issues, a detention centre and a hospital for children with cancer. I bring all of that experience, along with my time owning childcare centres, and 50+ years of life to my classroom, whether it’s online, in a centre or face-to-face.”
In August 2021, after an affiliation with our organisation more than a decade long, we welcomed Teena to the METS team.
“METS has been here for 30 strong years. I always wanted to work here. I love that there is a great opportunity to work as part of a team, but also to work and lead alone. Our trainers network with each other, support each other and help each other grow and learn. We also have the opportunity for a lot of flexibility and to grow in our careers, especially through affiliations with the likes of DSA.”
For Teena, teaching is more than just delivering modules and marking assignments, she sees herself as a role model for others and a source of practical insight.
“I always try to be an example. I’ve been in busy childcare centres, assessing students, and picked up a broom or fed a child when that extra set of hands can make all the difference. I want my students to know they are role models for the children they care for, so I show them that in how I act when I’m with them.”
“I know though, that my job is also to really guide them. Sometimes that means creating a spreadsheet for them so they can manage the challenges of working while studying, other times it means delivering constructive feedback in an honest, yet gentle way, so they can really grow. I always aim to have a great relationship with my students and that starts with understanding them and being honest with them.”
At any one time, Teena may be working with up to 100 students who are all at various stages of earning their childcare qualifications. Other than excellent time management, what keeps her going – what really inspires her – is seeing her students in action.
“I had one student recently, who I was assessing at a childcare centre. She was new, in the earliest levels of her qualifications, but you would never have known it, by how she behaved.”
“She had a flock of children around her, making banana cupcakes, and once finished, she somehow managed to turn ‘what do we do with the banana skins?’ into a complete problem-solving activity that helped develop fine motor-skills and communication. In moments like that, I’m so inspired and so proud, it gives me real job satisfaction and it’s what helps me enjoy work every day.”
Outside of work, mentoring doesn’t stop for Teena. A grandmother to four, including a newborn she takes every chance to cuddle, Teena is also a volunteer Women’s Warrior – one of 25 women paired with 25 young ladies (17 to 22 years old) who look to them for guidance, support and a shoulder to lean on.
“There was a lot I never had in my life, and I draw on that to help give back to other people. Whether it’s training or Women’s Warriors, I love mentoring, but especially young people straight out of school, and providing them guidance and support.”
A born nurturer and educator, Teena is just one of the friendly and knowledgeable trainers working with the METS team.