After a hiatus of three years, leaders of Agape Little Uni. had the opportunity to embark on a leadership learning journey from 5th to 11th October 2022 to Melbourne, Australia. In line with Agape Little Uni.’s theme 2022, “Making every connection count”, we were elated that our leaders had the opportunity to form connections with the people who crossed path and of course take a deeper insight through the culture and environment that we experienced, leaving our mark down under, during this learning journey.
Making Every Connection Count
We believe that those who play together, learn together. Hence it has always been a long standing tradition for our leaders to get together to align our organization direction annually on this breakthrough retreat to renew and re-establish bonds and understanding on the management level.
The adventures for the trip were specifically planned to support holistic learning for our educators from looking into mental wellness with nature basking and wildlife immersion, inspiration building and engagement through interactive museums and of course, learning to exercise self-care through bonding. Despite our fair share of challenges such as harsh weather, long travelling hours, and more, we were so enlightened to see how our dynamic team lived out unity, celebrated diversity and demonstrated teamwork to support one another through the journey while being able to trust our teams back home were doing well.
Professional Exchange With Deakin University
Constantly growing and looking out for best practices and initiatives to serve the families we serve, one of the main highlights was how the Agape Little Uni. Leadership team had a meaningful exchange with the team at Deakin University, Melbourne. Warmly welcomed by Professor Bonnie Yim, Professor Natalie Robertson and Associate Professor Wanty Widjaja, we had the opportunity to visit their campus, the university community childcare as well as a round table discussion on issues and practices cross culture to learn from both of the early childhood landscapes in Singapore and Australia.
At Deakin Community Child Care, we were very fortunate to be hosted by Ms Sally Young, a veteran leader of 25 years, who enthusiastically shared about her leadership, philosophy and policies which has successfully led her team in achieving outstanding results in the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality accreditation. Learning from her wealth of experience we learnt how relationships empowered educators and parents to build shared purpose and thus, strong partnership and the continuous efforts to place the child as a focus with their IT-Free policy and organic learning experiences through an emergent curriculum. Their natural set up truly exuded warmth and love with engaged children and educators that were observed to be practicing authentic learning and play. It was definitely an eye opener to see how they seamlessly combined practice and diversity in their environment and it was a great learning experience for us all to get these tips from the team so that we could bring back to our context and improve our craft.
Moving on to the round table discussion with the university faculty, one of the main pointers reflected upon was the message of “Sustainability, Inclusion and Diversity”. Learning from the Australians, we reflected on the needs to improve delivery of these practices in Singapore and build the importance of some areas such as a sense of belonging, community togetherness and inclusiveness for all in the education landscape. Moving forward we would be hoping to continue with a combined research study and look forward to spearheading initiatives as advocates for our children and families.
With the very rich experiences that we had gone through during the learning journey, there were definitely many insights gained in many aspects. One of the life lessons learnt from the wildlife and experiences was that it was never easy to embark on new things. However, as a leader, we should continue to be courageous. Adapting the spirit of the penguins we saw on Phillip island, a definite message weaved into us, would be “No one is left behind”. A differentiated approach and acceptance of inclusiveness must be embraced, in order to support the building of “Beacons for Tomorrow”. Alongside our changing landscape and the rising need to cater to the many different learners in Singapore, it was an important learning point to really look into how diversity could be embraced and strengthen our current practice of sustainability such as acceptance of various family structures, policies, the lunch-box initiative, green schooling, education focus and more.
Challenges and different circumstances may affect how we function, however, leadership is really going back to our roots and remembering who we are and the importance of being consistent in paving the way to grow a forward looking educational institution of talents to learn and develop. We are definitely very grateful for this opportunity to widen our horizons and to be able to experience policies in practice through international exchange.
Last but not least, we would like to thank the organizers, Ms Jasmine Chua, Mdm Lee Chin Yen, CEO Dr Connie Lim and Director Mrs Joyce Chan for their support in making this trip possible. We also welcome all our future leaders and team members to join us on continuous learning as we look forward to building a value-centric team that is united and ready to push forward as trailblazers for the early childhood industry.
Written by: Ms Adeline & Ms Jasmine Chua