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What to Expect as an Early Childhood Teacher Reliever in Hawkes Bay

Updated: Apr 19, 2021

So you’ve signed all the paperwork, you nailed the interview, the next step is to actually be placed in an Early Childhood Centre for some relieving work across Hawkes Bay (Napier, Hastings, Havelock North and Waipawa). What can you expect? How should you prepare? Is there anything crucial you should know? Let’s help break it down for you and help ease your first day nerves.

What are some things that I already know that I should or need to do in order to be prepared? It helps to break this down into smaller pieces so that it doesn’t seem so overwhelming when looking at the big picture.

So as an ECE Reliever, I will:

- Be adaptable, flexible, and open minded. I know I may be placed in a Centre and be given minimal guidance or handover, so I need to be ready to expect anything!

- Be dressed and ready for the day. I know that I may be working outside or inside so I will wear appropriate clothing and be SunSmart with sunblock and a hat (or a jacket for the colder months).

- Have some resources ready in case I get some spare time to share my magic and fun with the children. I know that sometimes there will be a programme for me to follow however I know I may need to adapt this at the drop of the hat so I will come prepared with a bag of tricks and a brain full of resources.

- Bring my lunch with me! I know that I will probably not be able to leave the Centre for lunch and I may not have access to a microwave so I will bring a lunch that is easy to eat on the go. Likewise, with breaks I know this can change rapidly so I will be flexible with when I take my lunch break.

- Always be openminded. I know every Centre is going to have different rules, traditions, rhythms, and cultures. I expect to be able to adapt into these different environments quickly and never be judgemental or critical.

- Be prepared with a little story about myself to tell the children. I know I will need to be engaging and grab their attention quickly. I will need to be warm and open and display positive body language so that the childrenfeel like they can approach me.

- Be practicing speaking Te Reo Maori at every opportunity and to involve the children as much as possible in their learning of the language.

So what about the things you don’t know about? What should the Centre do to help you have a successful day? What can you expect from them?

- Typically, you will be given a brief induction to the Centre. You will be introduced to the other staff members and hopefully get given a quick tour to the kitchen and bathrooms. Your induction should include any key policies, health and safety, behaviour management policies etc. The induction should also help you identify any children with individual needs or medical concerns as well as get a feel for the culture and community of the Centre.

- The staff will usually be friendly to you and grateful for assistance, but also busy. Try not to be offended if they don’t take 10 minutes to have a long chat with you. They have additional responsibilities that a reliever doesn’t and will be trying to ensure the Centre still runs smoothly.

- They may offer guidance, suggestions or give direct instructions throughout the day. Make sure you pay attention and follow their guidance. This is their regular Centre and they will be directing you to ensure the safety and care of the tamariki at all times.

We have covered off what you can expect from the ECE Centre, but what will the ECE Manager or Centre staff be expecting from you?

- They would expect you to quickly build relationships and establish trust with the children and staff. Although you want to be a part of their play, you do not want to force yourself upon them without having built a rapport first.

- You are there to relieve! That means help, offer support and additional hands. The Centre will expect you to know the basis of any early childhood setting and be able to mould and adjust your skills to suit their Centre.

- The majority of Early Childhood Centres in Hawkes Bay focus on having whānau at the heart of the culture, establishing trusting, warm relationships with whānau, whānui, hapū and Iwi is crucial. This won’t happen in a day but this should be your aim if you are doing a block of work at one Centre.

- An ethical bi-cultural Kaiako (teacher) must uphold the status of Tangata Whenuatanga within Te Tiriti o Waitangi. They need to be culturally responsive meaning they must respect all diverse cultures, making visible and re-affirming these cultures within the ECE setting. This can be achieved through your spoken word, through songs, art, the way you dress – you name it! Bring your culture with you and encourage the children to do the same.

- Relieving Teachers need to be competent and confident in Te Reo Māori me ōna Tikanga, protecting the taonga of Te Reo Māori and act as a key tool for all tamariki Māori to access their taonga. They should be confidently able to support the tamaiti to develop a strong Tūrangawaewae where they feel safe and secure in their identities.

So, what else is there? What other opportunities can arise from relieving teaching?

You should absolutely expect to have fun. Relieving is a very interesting job with no two days the same. As you will be working in different Centre’s (across Hawkes Bay with work available in Havelock North, Hastings and Napier) each day or each week, you should expect to be making new connections and extending your community of learners – kahui ako. You will be given opportunities for professional development within the wider community, and you will be able to network and speak with the staff, whanau and tamaraki. You will be able to enjoy insights into the many cultures of NZ and build connections, relationships, and opportunities. Permanent positions can be offered after relieving work. There are always staff movements and opportunities arising, so we recommend you treat every day like it is a job interview. You never know who is watching and being impressed with your work.

Good luck! You’ve got this.

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