Professional Development for Early Care and Education Professionals: Creating a Reflective Practice Director’s Corner

Working with Employees to Create Unique Professional Development Plans

A large part of the role of director includes ensuring that employees have the tools necessary to handle the day-to-day responsibilities of the job. Effective program leaders have systems in place to track the number of hours of continued training employees take each year. Training binders and professional development records are meticulously maintained to be sure that each employee meets the training standards established for the program. This is an important task that serves an essential purpose. But is there more that leaders can do to encourage meaningful professional development? The answer is yes! One of the most important things program leaders can do is guide employees to seek out training that addresses their individual needs. While there are certain trainings that every early care and education professional needs to take, it is important to recognize that each individual has unique skill sets and areas of need.

As a leader, it is your role to help your employees to identify these strengths and opportunities for growth. Much of this can be accomplished through the use of a robust performance evaluation process, which includes ongoing observation, reflection, feedback, and goal setting. During annual reviews, time can be spent identifying two or three training topics that relate to the performance goals that you have created with each employee.

Here are a few other opportunities program leaders can use to promote meaningful professional development:

Core Belief Reflection: Does your program have a vision/mission statement? What are the core beliefs that your employees value in their work with children? If your program has not identified these beliefs, work with staff during your next staff meeting to create these statements of commitment. To close the conversation, provide the following prompt: “What skills or knowledge do you need to ensure that your work is aligned with these statements 100% of the time?” Throughout the following weeks, touch base with each employee to gather their responses to the prompt. Guide them to identify training opportunities that relate to their responses.

Quality Improvement Tools: There is no shortage of tools available that support quality improvement initiatives. From the CLASS and environmental rating scales to state developed QRIS and NEAYC accreditation standards, there are many tools that program leaders can use to promote relevant professional development. If your program is currently working with one (or more) of these tools, make sure that employees reflect, identify areas of opportunity, and enroll in training tied to those areas. Keep in mind, though, that these tools cover many areas of programming and can be a bit overwhelming. Encourage employees to focus on just one standard or area of programming at a time for this reflection activity.

Core Competency Surveys: States have worked hard to identify the core competencies for the child care workforce. Some have even created self-assessment documents to accompany the competencies. You could create your own reflection tool based on your state’s competencies. There is also a CDA competency framework that can be used as a tool to promote reflection and goal setting. These tools should be used to help providers create an intentional, annual plan for skill building.

Are there other tools that you use to make sure that your employees are taking relevant and meaningful training throughout the year? Tell us about it on our Facebook page here.

Professional Development for Early Care and Education Professionals: Creating a Reflective Practice Pre-Schoolers

Professional development is important to your ability to meet the needs of the children in your care. In addition to the reflection questions included in the main article, you can also ask yourself variations of reflection questions like the ones below:

• Could I do more to meet the academic and social/emotional needs of each child in my care?
• What skills do I need to develop to improve my ability to observe, document, and communicate about children’s learning?
• Do the children look to me as a model of appropriate problem solving strategies?
• Could I easily explain the importance of play in the preschool classroom to a parent or family member?
• Does my classroom promote learning for children regardless of ability, gender, and cultural experience?

Here are some topics that may help you in your work with preschool age children:

• GUI102: Conflict Resolution in the Early Childhood Environment
• CHD104: The Importance of Play in Early Childhood
• CUR106: STEM in Early Childhood Education
• CUR117: Authentic Assessment in Early Care and Education
• PROF103: Strategies for Success in Challenging Conversations

Professional Development for Early Care and Education Professionals: Creating a Reflective Practice School-Agers

Professional development is important to your ability to meet the needs of the children in your care. In addition to the reflection questions included in the main article here, you can also ask yourself variations of reflection questions like the ones below:

• Are the children in my program engaged in meaningful learning a majority of the time?
• How well do the children in my care communicate and solve problems independently?
• Do all children feel successful in the program, regardless of academic, cultural, or developmental differences?
• Do I know about family traditions and goals that families have for their children?
• How often do I make changes to activities to reflect the learning styles and interests of the children in my group?

Here are some topics that may help you in your work with school-age children:

• CLM100: Teaching Multiage Groups
• SOC104: Promoting Empathy and Other Prosocial Behavior
• CCEI4005: Positive Guidance, Part 5 – The Early School-Age Years
• CUR114: 21st Century Social Studies in the Early Childhood Environment
• CHD103: The Child’s Digital Universe: Technology and Digital Media in Early Childhood

Student Spotlight – Marilyn Colella

I began my career in early childhood by substitute teaching in the nursery school my daughter, Katie, was going to when she was 3. When she was 4, the Director asked me if I wanted to work full time.

My favorite time of the day is when the children arrive in the morning. They do their morning work at their seats. I like this time because they are excited when they come to school to start the day. Motivation for me is watching the children grow and develop new skills. I most enjoy teaching the children to read and write. It’s amazing how much they learn in 10 months. The boys love to play basketball. They even have me on a team with them. The girls love the dramatic play center. They love to play house.

I currently live in Pleasantville, New York. My mom is in a nursing facility and I visit her every day. My daughter, Katie, is 15-years-old and she is a competitive gymnast. I take her to practice every day, go to her competitions, and I’m active at her gym.

I just finished my CDA renewal with CCEI and sent in all my paperwork to the Council of Professional Recognition to renew my CDA. I would like to continue my education and receive further CCEI coursework and credentials in the future. I would recommend CCEI to my co-workers and friends.

It’s amazing to see how the children start the school year eager to learn. By the end of the year, the children all grow in height and in their ability to read, write, and express themselves. I plan to continue working in the nursery school setting to help children learn and grow.

Two New CCEI Online Professional Development Courses!

ChildCare Education Institute (CCEI), a distance training institution dedicated exclusively to the child care industry, is proud to announce the addition of two online professional development courses.

ADM100: Five Steps to Building a High Performance Team, is a course focusing on the development of ‘team esteem’ through communication, motivation, productivity, attitude, and appreciation. Take this course to develop a greater understanding of the importance of effective communication and how it can enhance your experience as a child care professional and aid in the development of a motivated and happy team. In addition, learn listening skills and key motivators that will increase productivity and leadership effectiveness. ADM100 was authored by Dale Brown M.A., C.E.C., a child care consultant, who has spent over 30 years in the child care industry as a coach, teacher, trainer, manager and vice president.

CCEI also introduces HLTH101: Preparing for an Influenza Pandemic. This course, based on information from the Department of Health and Human Services, USA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), provides an overview of how to prepare for an influenza pandemic. Complete HLTH101 to learn the definition of pandemic, identify the planning and coordination required to prepare for a pandemic, identify infection control actions and learn the values of communication during a pandemic. Being knowledgeable and prepared in the event of a pandemic is important for the health and safety of you and your students!

Register Online for Professional Development Courses by selecting online enrollment!

Courses are $15 each and individual professional development subscriptions are just $99.

Vote for “Every Child Deserves a Well-Trained Teacher” and Give Child Care Teachers Access to Free Professional Development Courses

Duluth, GA/ September 1, 2010 – ChildCare Education Institute’s “Every Child Deserves a Well-Trained Teacher” campaign needs your votes. The Pepsi Refresh Project is an initiative sponsored by Pepsi-Cola Company that awards grant funds to projects focused on affecting a positive impact in their communities. CCEI’s initiative, “Every Child Deserves a Well-Trained Teacher”, will provide six (6) hours of free online training to child care providers nationwide.

In the United States, 550,000 staff members in child care centers provide early care and education to 2.4 million children under the age of 5. In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 1.3 million work in the informal child care workforce. Many child care providers lack the education and training necessary to provide high-quality child care. Formal education attained by a child care provider is the strongest predictor of that provider’s ability to engage children in valuable, developmentally appropriate activities.

“ChildCare Education Institute is committed to creating, administering and delivering quality online training to child care providers nationwide,” says Maria C. Taylor, President and CEO of CCEI. “Students completing CCEI’s online courses increase their knowledge of child development, health and safety, nutrition, discipline and other topics associated with high-quality care. The Pepsi Refresh Project Grant is an opportunity for CCEI to provide online training to child care providers who otherwise may not have access to training.”

Help child care teachers and children in your community by voting today and every day throughout the month of September for “Every Child Deserves a Well-Trained Teacher”! Every vote helps providers nationwide receive access to free training and increases the quality of care provided to children.