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Reflections Magazine : Reflections Issue 59 Winter 2015
8 The introduction of the Long Day Care Professional Learning Program (LDCPDP) has drawn focus on the professional learning needs of all early years' educators and the need for services to have a rigorous and robust plan, not only to improve the quality of current practices but to effectively manage professional learning budgets. It is timely to plan for the professional learning needs within your service by taking a strategic approach to quality improvement both at service level and to support individual educators in their career development. Professional learning, rather than fitting into a matrix of required hours should involve targeting educator's specific learning needs and capitalising on the range of adult learning approaches. In recognition of the importance of developing a considered plan for professional learning, the Professional Support Coordinator Alliance (PSCA) developed a tool to assist services to determine the future learning needs of their educators by applying a strategic approach to quality improvement. The Self-Assessment Tool - Professional Learning Plan aims to work within the context of the service's existing Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) and philosophy and can be applied service-wide or on an individual basis. The tool assists staff teams to reflect on current skills and practices, revealing strengths and identifying gaps. The tool is divided into quality areas using statements that reflect the National Quality Standard (NQS) and elements requiring honest evaluation by using a numbered rating scale - level 1 (aspiring) to level 4 (confident) - to assess competence in relation to each statement. After reflecting and rating using the scale, it quickly becomes clear, simply by looking at the levels, where the learning gaps exist. Using the tool in team meetings supports reflective and stimulating discussions and contributions, allowing all voices to be heard. Service needs recognised as a priority can be fed directly into the QIP. Recent research suggests that overall effectiveness of professional learning is diminished when sessions are chosen on behalf of educators (Barber, Cohrssen and Church, 2014). To positively impact the learning outcomes of children through educator professional development requires reflection and input from the educators themselves around the topic and the approach to learning. Working in teams to develop professional learning pathways may include the following considerations: Context: How might you link personal and professional goals to the service philosophy and needs identified in the QIP? Ensuring the QIP is available to the whole team will support educators to determine their role in resourcing their own learning. Availability: In a climate where a range of professional learning opportunities and associated resources abound, it is important to determine the professional learning approach required to target the learning need and develop strategies to select quality professional learning providers. Systems: The systems to support educators to access professional learning are all important. Protocols you have in place may include: • backfll and time release; • expectations for sharing knowledge gained; • embedding changes into practice; • allowing time to refect and review. Professional Learning approaches: The creation of professional learning communities and networks should be a deliberate goal of the professional learning process (Barber, Cohrssen and Church, 2014). Adult learners will all respond to different learning approaches and in many circumstances, one size does not fit all. There are numerous professional learning approaches that can fulfil the learning needs of educators as whole teams or as individuals. Traditional modes include single sessions or series, sessions customised for the whole team, and e-learning options. It may not be appropriate to meet a professional learning need the same way every time and certain in-house approaches may better suit the service, time frame and budget. PROFESSIONAL LEARNING The performance of educators, coordinators and staff members is evaluated and individual development plans are in place to support performance improvement (7.2.2 ACECQA 2011).
Reflections Issue 58 Autumn 2015
Reflections Issue 60 Spring 2015