On Friday, while in the car together, Tash and I began discussing the fact that over the last couple of years (perhaps coinciding with the introduction of the LDCPDP Funding) there seems to have been a really big increase in the number of early childhood consultants and organisations providing professional development. With so many providers out there offering answers... we decided that our point of difference is that we strive to ask questions!
What do I mean by this?
As a profession we say that we view children as capable learners. We encourage them to ask questions, to wonder, to develop their own theories. When asked the question "why is the sky blue?" we refrain from answering with a statement of fact, choosing instead to engage in discussion - to ask the child "what do you think?" We support them to find information and to reach understandings that are meaningful to them. Outcome 4 of the Early Years Learning Framework sums it up perfectly - Children are Confident and Involved Learners. Well... so are educators!
The aim of professional development should not be to provide the answers. It should be to ask the questions!
I am not suggesting that educators stop asking questions, seeking out information or looking for answers. Nor am I suggesting that professional development providers shouldn't provide support, research or possible solutions. What I mean by this is that there is no one-size-fits-all answer. There is not one way of doing or being that is right for everyone or that will "guarantee" a result of some kind. Professional development needs to be collaborative. Educators should be empowered to ask questions, to wonder, to develop their own theories. Each educator, just like the children we work with, brings to the table pre-existing ideas and understandings, they have a history or personal experiences that shape their perspectives, they work in a variety of settings with differing values and community contexts.
Professional development should be exciting, engaging and leave you wanting to know more, to question more, to think more. Just as we hope that children will develop a lifelong love of learning, so too we should want that for our educators. It is time for professional development providers to practice what they preach! It is time for educators to push back if they are told "this is the way to do it so you get an exceeding rating" It is time for professional development to be a collaborative experience that really values educators and what they know.
Providing inspirational professional development opportunities for Early Childhood Educators