Carissa Olarte shares her experience moving from the Philippines to work as an Early Childhood Teacher in New Zealand
Tell me a bit about yourself and why you decided to become a teacher.
Kia ora! My name is Carissa and I am from the Philippines. I have been teaching for the past 12 years and I can say that teaching is a really rewarding profession. Kaiako can be considered the front liners in shaping our tamariki alongside their whānau to be best prepared for their life ahead.
After a few years of being a kaiako, I have realised that seeing my students achieve their dreams and overcome challenges is something that makes me proud. I want to support more tamariki to reach their full potential and I believe that being a kaiako is one of the best ways to do this.
Why did you want to come and live and work in New Zealand?
I was looking for something that would help me grow as a teacher. I wanted a different experience and thought moving to another country would help me achieve this. An opportunity to work in New Zealand came and I grabbed it.
New Zealand is one of the best countries. Coming here has been a dream come true and offers a great work-life balance. I also enjoy working with different nationalities and learning more about different cultures as New Zealand is a melting pot of this.
How did you find the process of having your qualifications assessed and obtaining your New Zealand teaching registration?
Getting assessed by the NZQA was the first step that I took. Everything went smoothly and the requirements were submitted online. I had all my documents ready before submitting them and got a reply from NZQA in a matter of days. Everything that NZQA needs from the applicant is specified on their website. NZQA emailed me regarding an additional document that they needed, which I submitted it as soon as I could and got my certificate the following day.
The Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand is the institution that governs teachers in New Zealand. I registered back in 2019 and got my license approved in two months. I was still overseas then and the requirements for overseas teachers are different. The Council website specifies all the documents that the applicant will need to be able to register. I submitted mine through courier and immediate feedback was given to me once they received it.
It was very easy to communicate with both institutions. All their FAQs are on their websites and if the applicant has further questions or clarifications, just send them an email and they will reply as soon as they can.
How would you describe teaching in New Zealand compared to home?
There is a big difference between teaching in New Zealand and teaching in the Philippines. Back home, teaching is more structured. When I came here and met my colleagues and students, I observed that we have an environment that encourages them to have play-based learning. Tamariki learn through play which they enjoy more. Kaiako are also encouraged to play with tamariki and enjoy the learning process. After all, we are all young at heart!
New Shoots has an environment that makes everybody feel at home. It has an open door policy which allows the younger ones to visit the room for the older ones and vice versa. Through that, I was able to get to know the other tamariki as well in a short span of time. The environment did not limit me to the confinements of my assigned room which made me feel more comfortable.
How did New Shoots help in your move to New Zealand?
New Shoots was hands-on in helping me every step of the way. I was communicating with Pip regarding the documents that I need to accomplish before my relocation. She was always there, updating me with the details I needed and was always willing to help. It was a long process and Pip was always patient and assured me that we would get things done as soon as we could.
Once everything was settled, I met with our centre director, Val, and my teammates, Tiana and Hazel through Zoom. Even if I was miles away, they reassured me and made me feel comfortable that coming to New Zealand would be a breeze and that they would be there to support me.
What would be the best piece of advice you would give to someone considering a move to New Zealand?
Moving to a new country is both exciting and daunting. There are times when you feel like giving up, especially when there are a lot of things to do. I advise you to take it one step at a time and make a checklist. Once you see that your tasks are slowly being accomplished, you will feel more excited about moving towards achieving your dreams. New Zealand is a great country and you will not regret coming here.
We have put together an International Teachers Handbook with everything you need to know about applying to teach at New Shoots in New Zealand.
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