Dr Lemuel S. Toledano obtained his PhD (Management major in Organisational Behaviour) from CBE’s Research School of Management in 2013. He completed his Master of Arts in Education (major in Educational Leadership and Management), Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Arts (Behavioural Science) at De La University in Manila, Philippines. Lemuel’s interest and profound passion for pedagogy, children and educational leadership started in the Philippines, where he previously worked as a lecturer, early childhood practicum supervisor and program coordinator in the Educational Leadership and Management Department, College of Education at De La Salle University.
Lemuel is currently the Chief Operations Officer and Educational Leader of CanPlay Pty Ltd., a privately owned company based in Canberra. He oversees the training and performance management of directors and educators, implementation of Australia’s Early Years Learning Framework, curriculum planning and assessment, and pedagogical practices of the company’s three centres – Majura Park Childcare Centre, Urambi Early Learning Centre and Torrens Early Learning Centre.
Lemuel has also participated in study tours, conferences and in-depth trainings on the Reggio Emilia approach in Italy, United States and Australia. He has published in several journals on topics related to cultural intelligence, pedagogy, and organisational attitudes and behaviours.
27 April 2022
Why did you choose to pursue a career in early childhood education sector after you finished your PhD?
Prior to enrolling in the PhD program, my work experience was already in the field of leadership and management, including early childhood and general education. My advocacy has always focused on providing quality care and education through transformative leadership. Towards the end of my PhD, I decided to return to educational management to achieve my personal mission and professional goals. I had a strong urge to put theories into practice, implement strategies and expand my expertise to work in a diverse and challenging sector. Therefore, I decided to re-direct my career and become a practitioner in the early childhood sector.
How have you applied your learnings in management and the skills you obtained at ANU to your career in the early childhood education sector?
It was a privilege to complete my PhD at ANU. I have gained so much learning experience from my professors, fellow PhD students and different members of the CBE and ANU community. First, in terms of leading teams and decision-making, I now embed the culture of research and evidence-driven processes. Similar to my experience at ANU, critical analysis of data and in-depth reflections are essential to developing our Quality Improvement Plan, performance management reviews, and strategic planning endeavours. Second, whilst studying at ANU, I had the opportunity to attend cross-cultural courses and collaborate with people from different backgrounds. This strengthened my understanding of diversity and culture, which I found beneficial working in the early childhood sector, particularly managing diverse educators and unique family contexts. Lastly, the drive to discover and create new knowledge has been evident in my leadership style. Thus, CanPlay’s pedagogies focus on developing novel teaching strategies and co-investigating with children, rather than merely the transmission of existing knowledge and skills.
What excites you about the future of childcare?
The early childhood profession is progressively evolving. Educators and leaders in the sector continuously conduct research with many stakeholders, including professionals, families, children, and the general community, to develop new pedagogies. For instance, children are no longer recipients of existing knowledge, but rather active participants in their own learning process. Thus, their interests and conceptualisations are driving the curriculum.
There is a big swing in terminologies and actual practice, which uplifts the early childhood profession in general. For example, the term "child minding” progressing to “institutionalising education through play”.
I also value the importance set upon by the authentic protection of children’s rights. It further excites me to be part of an era wherein the paradigm shift continues in such a way that early childhood education should drive changes in primary and onward education, and not the other way around. Early childhood education should not adjust to simply meet the traditional practices of primary, secondary and higher education. Moreover, I look forward to a strong and genuine collaboration between both private and government sectors to promote children’s best interests.
What changes have you seen in early childhood education management because of COVID?
COVID has brought many unprecedented changes to the early childhood sector. Centres (including ours) have been hit in different ways due to lockdowns, isolation guidelines, and closures. Waiving fees and delays in economic packages affected many early childhood businesses. The abrupt changes in policies and practices affected staff retention and caused frustration, anxiety and other health concerns. However, this also provided the opportunity for reflection, change, and improvement. We continuously enhance our communication systems and use different means to deliver information effectively and efficiently. Strong collaboration with families has been more evident and encouraged to ensure everyone’s safety. We also learnt to be more compassionate and exercise empathy to understand staff and family’s unique situations. Overall, we have focused on improving the sharing of information and support systems to safeguard children’s continuous care and education, despite the risks COVID presents.
What is your advice for our current HDR candidates?
I would like to share a quote I created and included in my thesis. This has been my mantra since my PhD days.
“It is not just a degree from a prestigious university that makes one a PhD, it is the Passion, Hard work, and Dedication that give more meaning to the title.”
Reflect on what topics and questions you are passionate about, and let this drive and motivate your research. Hard work translates to the continued thirst for personal and professional development. Therefore, maximise the opportunity for endless learning. Participate in various trainings, college colloquium, and collaborative research to elevate your current skills and capabilities. Completing a PhD is not an easy task; it takes dedication to your goals. When you are dedicated, you think of ways to remain committed, persevere when facing failures, and seek help when needed. Don’t forget to balance it with fun – your achievement is nothing when you are not truly happy. In my case, when I look back, I am delighted to reminisce that I completed the program yet did not miss out on having fun. It is for you to discover what makes you passionate, hardworking, and dedicated academically and personally.