Wendy Shepherd

'It all happens in the first five seconds': The complications and complexities of our greetings, farewells and encounters in between 

Becoming an early childhood teacher was for me, the result of thegiftof leadership in all of its diverse forms, colours and characteristics. For any student lucky enough to have attended the Institute of Early Childhood, they will agree we flourished in the presence of brilliant, inspiring, engaging, intellectual, courageous, transformational and collaborative leadership. Once in the workplace leadership of a different kind, from frustrating, challenging and sometimes dark, rounded out the experience and provided lessons of different kind, but just as necessary.


Both sides of the leadership spectrum helped in identifying and refining the teacher I wanted to become. I was able to experience working with children, their families, other teachers and early childhood staff in diverse settings. Kindergarten, first and second grade, preschool and long day places, all of these settings, including academic lecturing, offered unique and rewarding opportunities. Throughout my career, the relationships formed in these spaces, nourished my life as an early childhood teacher, researcher, friend and colleague.


Aesthetics, beauty and design were and continue to be the other gifts that life has to offer and I remember as a very young child, all the way through to mature age, I had to gather and arrange objects that provoked a sense of pleasure and an ephemeral feeling of wellbeing that would give me and others, a sense of place. Visiting Paris for the very first time I soon learnt the meaning of finding a spiritual home. With each visit I watch on, as very young children in Paris and regional towns, are inducted into aesthetics, beauty and philosophy through their visits to galleries and museums and weekly visits into their local arrondissement. Real life education, or the life lived was always my curriculum. From my observations as an early childhood teacher, infants and very young children have always responded in positive ways to beauty and aesthetics in all of its forms.


I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to share all of the gifts I received throughout my career with children, their families, and dear colleagues. It is my hope that we will all pass on the gifts we received along the way to the next generation of early childhood teachers. They too must be able to say, that was a wonderful and brilliant career.

Co-presenting with: Janet Robertson

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