Early Childhood Seminar Series- Natalie Hopper & Justine O’Hara-Gregan

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Caring for the carers: Emotional labour and mindful self-compassion in EC teaching and leading

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The Early Childhood Seminar Series was founded by Dr Marek Tesar and Dr Maria Cooper in 2013, as an opportunity for researchers, academics, teachers and the wider community to engage with top New Zealand and international academics. The Seminar Series is now proudly supported by the wider ECE team at the University of Auckland.

This Seminar Series is aimed at all who are interested in early childhood education, the early years and in childhood studies. It has created a dynamic space for networking and ongoing discussions across disciplines and institutions. As a research project, the Early Childhood Seminar Series connects researchers and academics in early childhood and childhood studies, to collaborate on diverse projects and publications, and to connect with the wider EC Education and Care sector.

Time: 4.30-5.30pm

Date: Monday 18 October 2021

Where: Online via Zoom

The well-being of early childhood teachers and leaders is of growing interest (and concern) within the sector. In these presentations based on their research studies, Natalie and Justine highlight the importance of caring for the well-being of the carers and suggestions for how we might begin to do this.


Natalie Hopper is a professional supervisor and teacher mentor with the University of Auckland

Emotional labour: The hidden work of teacher-leaders in ECE

The emotional wellbeing of children attending Early Childhood Education (ECE) services is well understood as an essential aspect of their early learning experiences. Consequentially, the expectation is for ECE teachers to provide nurturing and caring environments that tend to children’s needs with sensitivity. However, there is often very little attention paid to the emotional experience of the adults responsible for providing this nurturing environment. So, where to for leaders from here? How might we re-frame experiences of emotional labour to serve both those who give and receive care? This presentation draws on findings from a Masters research project exploring emotional labour in ECE teaching and leadership.

Justine O’Hara-Gregan is a Professional Teaching Fellow at the University of Auckland, Faculty of Education and Social Work

Being mindfully self-compassionate: The lived experiences of EC teachers

Early childhood teaching is complex, caring, and relational work, and the emotional labour involved has significant implications for teachers’ well-being and their teaching practice. While there is an emerging recognition of the importance of supporting teacher well-being, the literature to date has positioned teacher well-being as predominantly an individual responsibility, while focusing on the benefits of teacher well-being for employers. There is currently limited literature about the benefits of teacher well-being for early childhood teachers as individuals, for teaching practice, for children and for the wider early childhood teaching profession. There is also limited guidance for early childhood teachers about specific practices they can use to support their well-being when moments of complexity and challenge arise during their teaching day.

The practice of mindful self-compassion has been found to have benefits for holistic well-being and as a strategy for responding to challenging or difficult experiences. This presentation draws on findings from a recent doctoral research study investigating early childhood teachers’ lived experiences of the practice of mindful self-compassion and their perceptions of how this practice contributes to their well-being and teaching.

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Organiser Faculty of Education and Social Work

Organiser of Early Childhood Seminar Series- Natalie Hopper & Justine O’Hara-Gregan

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