SEGi CATCH Club partners Montessori Consultant in Leadership in the Early Years Setting Webinar

SEGi College Subang Jaya and Children at the Core of our Hearts (CATCH) Club organised a webinar on 29 April. It was attended by Year 3 BAEYE students from the Leading and Managing in the Early Years class. It was well-received and there was a total of over a hundred participants.  The session was open to diploma and degree students including those from other universities and the general public.

The speaker was Ms Joey Teo Chai Ling, a Montessori consultant with twenty-two years years of experience, the principal of three Montessori schools, and Head of Research and Development of Montessori-based AZ Preschool. She graduated from Montessori studies in the UK, and is a member of the Montessori Centre International, UK, and the Montessori Association Malaysia.

In the webinar, Ms Teo shared her experiences in building a successful workforce and leading her team towards providing quality services to children and families. She also shared about the role of mentoring in leadership development and how it is important to keep the team motivated and inspired. In her own leadership, she leads by example and gets herself involved in all school activities and routines.

She encourages self-reflection among her team members (teachers) and believes strongly in continuing professional development for her team. Teachers must be qualified and she encourages them all to obtain formal ECE certification.

She gave examples on the various challenges a leader would face in leading and managing a school, and how she has overcome them, including resolving conflicts among her team members. She personally gets to know each individual well and admits that communication is key to a trusting and successful team.

She added that it is crucial that there is opportunity for all members of the team to grow and develop their own potential. As a leader, she supports her team members fully by giving them the confidence and necessary guidance that leads to better work performance and satisfaction.

She also shared some marketing strategies to building a successful business. There will need to be a strong belief in the school programme with the know-hows, and she emphasised the people aspect i.e. building good relationships with the team and customers (parents) because success of the business depends on the quality of the team.

She also has her team involved in CSR, working closely with the families of the children and the community, and she gives training to in-service teachers and teachers l-to-be.

The BAEYE programme prepares students to be leaders who are visionary, effective and capable of being change agents in the early-years setting, and who are able to support and mentor colleagues and raise standards in multi-agency settings.

Some of her students shared their takeaways:

Sarah – Aunty Joey’s sharing was very very insightful. It gave us learners a clear perspective of what it is like to be a leader in the ECE field, even during difficult times like the recent pandemic.l, from the process of setting up the school, the hiring process, marketing strategies used to market the school, delegating duties and responsibilities, to name a few. She also shared the qualities of a good leader, with relevant examples. Aunty Joey herself demonstrates excellent qualities as a leader – she is so down-to-earth, empathetic, and a great listener.

“It’s not about the money making. It’s about the passion! ” ~ Aunty Joey

Chris – Aunty Joey’s sharing was incredibly relatable and realistic because it was based on her own personal experience. I think it’s great that she highlighted that in the early-years setting, teamwork needs to be encouraged. I also felt the importance when she mentioned that it is important to recognise that leaders don’t do everything on their own. In fact, their role is to distribute tasks to the appropriate people so that each team member feels respected and confident in their ability to complete the work.

Cera – This webinar highlighted the importance of good leadership, that it takes time and practice, to which I agree because practice makes perfect and no one is naturally a good leader without some experience in practising such skills over time. She also also mentioned that leaders should always listen to their team members, that when team members are heard they feel emotionally supported which is vital for a good leadership. Team members are just as valuable because they can contribute useful insights for the setting.

Earlier, on 5 April, the students had the opportunity to join SEGi KL students in attending a session on ‘Setting up High-quality Preschools in Malaysia’. The qualities stressed were the teachers’ qualification, the school environment and the curriculum.

 

 

Q&A session – Ms Joey Teo (top left) and Aainaa Ali (bottom), President of CATCH Club
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