Breakout Session 5 - 17th September at 12:30 - 1:10

Effective leadership through the COVID-19 pandemic

Presenter/s: Jo Ellis, Rachel Taylor
Type: Leadership story
Keywords: Leadership, change, strategies
Room: Tautoru


The presenters conducted qualitative research to understand the experiences of Early Childhood Education Centre leaders and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Otago region of Aotearoa, New Zealand.

In this session, the presenters will share narratives of the focus group from this research in which four ECE centre leaders discussed how they navigated the COVID-19 pandemic.

The session will outline the many challenges the leaders faced and how those challenges impacted their roles. The presenters will also share strategies that the centre leaders used to support their wellbeing and maintain effective leadership.
The narratives shared by the leaders aim to provide support and inspiration to other leaders who may have encountered similar issues during this challenging period.

The strategies presented in the session will align with the conference theme of leading well, leading together, and leading with optimism, as these were identified as key themes throughout the research.

The research themes are expected to resonate with participants, and there will be dedicated time for in-depth discussions stemming from the findings. The presenters are looking forward to engaging in further dialogue and exchanging experiences with the participants.


Jo Ellis, Rachel Taylor

Jo’s career in education spans more than 42 years and roles including teacher, head teacher, professional development facilitator, licensing officer for Ministry Of Education, lecturer, director of 5 ECE centres and 3 homebased centres in Dunedin. Most recently she was the assistant principal at Qatar Academy in Qatar. She joined Te Rito Maioha in 2021 as the Regional Education Leader and lecturer in Ōtepoti.

Rachel has 17 years of experience as an early childhood teacher out of which she has spent ten years working with infants and toddlers. She feels passionate about Te Rito Maioha’s bicultural commitment which inspired her to take the role of kaiako after completing her study.
Rachel recently completed in Master’s in Education where research focus was on parents’ experiences in early childhood education sector.

Jo and Rachel together have conducted a community of inquiry about effective leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.