Thursday, 1 October 2015

Professional Development..how can we grow as early years teachers...?

This is a post where I am going to muse somewhat about how we as teachers can support each other to grow... both as colleagues at the same workplace and also as online colleagues... afterall the world is getting smaller and there are forums where we can "meet" and discuss online ideas as well as challenge and support.

As one of the admins of the facebook group "The Reggio Emilia Approach" I felt compelled to pin a post reminding members to critique each other with respect... but that also we need to be critiqued in order to grow... that being defensive about others thinking differently from ourselves does not leave us open to learn but closes us off.

Recently I saw this image on facebook...

Not only did it remind me of Malaguzzi's a hundred languages of children... but also that we have a hundred languages of teaching... there is no one perfect way to teach... we need to find our path up the mountain that is the most suitable with our knowledge as teachers and also with our understanding of the individuals that make up the group of children we take care of...

What I feel is that we need to be open to the other pathways... maybe they would suit us better... maybe we can try them out and fail and then take another route... maybe we know that we need to obtain new knowledge to be able to take that route...
But what I do feel sure about, is that there are few that feel good about being told what to do by those who have little to no knowledge or understanding of the situation we find ourselves in... that are just running around the mountain telling everyone their path is wrong without taking the time to think about what possible path might suit that person/group...


SO
How can we, as early years educators, support each other to find all those paths? How can we make appropriate signposts? How can we share knowledge and maps?

Online sharing IS a marvelous way to share... ideas, inspiration etc...
but I feel we ALL need to be open to the idea of being challenged... "have you thought about taking this path rather than that one?". If we are only open to one route to climb the mountain think of views we are missing, think of the fun of the challenge we might miss, or the opportunity of finding an easier route? And this is applicable for everyone... those who are nervous about trying new paths... and those convinced they are already on the right path... there are ALWAYS new possible routes... and if the weather is bad then we might need to change routes... if there is erosion we might need to change paths... there can be a myriad of reasons for reflecting on why we do what we do in the way that we do it... and if we are open to that kind of reflection then we are more open to new possible routes... to either take, save for later, or dismiss as not appropriate right now...

Recently I also read the following article Winning hearts or minds which also got me thinking about how we approach sharing our ideas... what do we want to achieve with our sharing? AND in such large groups as The Reggio Emilia Approach on facebook with its close to 17,000 members (now over 20, 000 at the start of 2017) from around the world it is always going to be tricky to know your audience... whether to appeal to the mind or to the heart...

I shared during the week a post about how we as teachers/educators co-exist with our professionalism... and how that can affect us...what it takes to be a preschool teacher shares five circular models where our personal, theoretical and practical beings need to co-exist in our profession, and how different proportions of this can impact how we react and interact with children. colleagues and provocations...

As a result of this post... Kristín Dýrfjörð from Iceland shared some more research with me

This is an image that comes from "The ‘shape’ of teacher professionalism in England: professional standards, performance management, professional development and the changes proposed in the 2010 White Paper Linda Evans* University of Leeds, UK"... also showing how there are three components to the professional teacher... like I had shared with my circles
She also shared this paper with me where the abstract is as follows...


"This paper reports on data drawn from an Economic and Social Research Council-funded project investigating the experiences of UK-based students training on level-2 and level-3 childcare courses. We focus on the concept of emotional labour in relation to learning to care for and educate young children and the ways in which the students' experiences of emotional labour and the expectations placed upon their behaviour and attitudes are shaped by class and gender. We consider the ways in which students are encouraged to manage their own and the children's emotions and we identify a number of 'feeling rules' that demarcate the vocational habitus of care work with young children. We conclude by emphasising the importance of specific contexts of employment in order to understand workers' emotional labour and argue for more recognition of the intense demands of emotional labour in early childhood education and care work. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]"
Being ‘fun’ at work: emotional labour, class, gender and childcare Carol Vincent a * and Annette Braun b  British Educational Research Journal Vol. 39, No. 4, August 2013, pp. 751–768

I think this is important in our learning journeys to recognise the emotional journey we take as educators of young children... we need to involve ourselves with their lives on a personal level and therefore bringing our personal self to the educational table is an essential teaching tool for the very young... but it also brings about an enormous vulnerability. We need to find that balance where our personal knowledge, understanding and experience is protected by the theory and practice so that we are not worn down... and that we can remain open to growth. At the same time is "feeling" taking too much space so that not enough room is left for theory and practice by the fact that gender and social status also affect who works with young children?
I find it all very fascinating.
How we can we support, according to this study, those with big hearts to grow without feeling personally threatened by pedagogical and professional challenges and critiques..
Of course this is a UK study and this will not apply to all countries... but maybe an element of it? What do you think?
it states... "...dominated by a female, working class, poorly paid workforce, which has a relatively low level of qualifications. Indeed a recent report from the Equalities and Human Rights Commision (2009) suggests that in the UK "white working-class gilrs are four times more likely as white middle class girls to expect to work in childcare (p.26)."
Do you agree with this... does this describe the situation where you are from...?


On Saturday 3rd October (2015) we will be exploring these ideas of how we can support each other as educators... so if you have ideas about how YOU want to be supported, of have experienced great professional development that you feel others should experience... then please join the #ReggioPLC twitterchat on Saturday (22:00 Swedish time, 21:00 UK... 16:00 EST). Diane Kashin and myself will be co-hosting the chat... you can check out her blog via her facebook page Technology Rich Inquiry Based Research - where there are lots of great posts to inspire professional development and reflection.

Hopefully we can find a whole load of ideas so that we can all continue to grow as educators...

3 comments:

  1. Very interesting post. I think it is always so hard to develop as a pedagog, it's hard to develop as a human being too. We are always stuck in our believes, we find it comfortable to stay in what we know, in what we have studied, in what the papers that we have got at school says about our knowledge. Maybe all the "things" about diplomas are wrong, we think that it is enough to have a diploma to be "there" or "arrived", to say proudly "I know...probably better than you". One of my favourite author, Ivan Illich, saw it correctly in the 60's when he wrote "deschooling society", we need another model of school, a school where we can learn how to become more curious, to investigate, to ask questions, to create a daily dialogue with others. A society that doesn't look at your degree on the wall, but what you can give as a person, as a pedagog. Maybe we should take away titles like teacher, nanny, etc, and verb as to teach and keep just the verb to educate, from latin educere, that means lead with/together (roughly). In that way the pedagogical action is done together. We should in that way start again to have time to read new things, to discover new theories, and overall find time to speak with each other, without having fear of hurting the others but also being disposed to listen to the others. It's maybe a big step to write in this context, but I think that Paulo Freire's idea about dialogue should be taken in consideration, just through the dialogue humankind, in this case educators, can find themselves, the dialogue has always been the engine of our development. Socrates founded in somehow the western culture, he based his action on dialogue and questioning.

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  2. ps....very nice this blog.

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  3. In a recent conversation with Carol Anne Wien (we were walking in the woods, always helpful as a reflective practice!) we discussed the idea of Teacher as Designer. The word 'designer' being one that gives the idea of creativity - creating a curriculum or practice in response to the children in our care or in our classrooms, rather than a 'one size fits all' educational system....

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