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Reflections Magazine : Reflections Issue 61, 2015
11 REFLECTIONS • GOWRIE AUSTRALIA • SUMMER 2015 - ISSUE 61 Power THE Cathy Cameron Gowrie SA of Professional Learning This story details the early stages of a learning journey that a Director of a long day care service embarked upon. The service was on the third floor of a busy shopping centre and challenges inlcuded how to engage with natural environments when your outdoor space is a windy balcony area, and how to achieve an improved assessment rating in such a challenging situation! These challenges were on the owner’s mind and he realised that he needed to engage both as a leader, and a learner, if they were to be resolved. Teng Zhao and his family first bought the child care business in 2007 as an investment. In 2010 Teng realised he needed to know his business better and became involved in the day-to-day management of it. In 2011 Teng began to enrol in Gowrie professional learning sessions and courses to learn more about child care, and to develop the skills he needed to lead his staff team from their current poor assessment ratings, to improved outcomes for the children and families they worked with. In order to support their goals, Teng and the service have had to create a strong focus on professional learning – both for the leadership team and for the whole team. Teng has since completed the Advanced Diploma in Community Sector Management and Treena Vatsinaris, the Director, is currently also completing this qualification. Teng says, ‘I benefited a lot from the Gowrie study to support my role.’ Teng and Treena and other staff members have also attended a variety of calendar sessions and booked mentoring visits from facilitators. Visiting the centre, it is easy to see the commitment to learning and improvement. Staff teams share their work on wall displays. Blank Quality Improvement Plan forms sit in every room to be added to as staff notice needs, and the ideas are collated each month or so. In the preschool area the programme is called ”Investigations” and large shared books and folders document the learning and are accessible for children and families to share. Teng works shifts in every room and observes and shares practice knowledge. He sets clear, short–term, achievable goals with staff. Frequent appraisals monitor the progress towards these goals and set the next ones. Teng is constantly looking for new, authentic ways to measure and assess the improvements. Teng credits the Advanced Diploma with ‘knowledge and ideas, especially the way of thinking.’ He approaches all new challenges with the question, ‘Is this relevant for children, for families, for staff?’ By understanding his multicultural community and staff, and by learning about ways to make the NQS relevant, he has been able to embed the National Quality Standard into all their work. Teng varies the pace of change in his centre because he wants to build sustainable practices and systems, and realises he needs to consider staff energy levels when making timelines for changes to be implemented. He has developed flexible planning and documentation systems because he feels rigid plans prevent future improvement and limit the imagination. Through engaging with professional learning opportunities, Teng and his team have created a natural environment in which children can grow and learn, despite the restrictions of their location. Their ability to understand and articulate the program and monitor outcomes for children has also improved, and all their hard work has resulted in an environment and culture of learning. Their recent assessment process has returned an ‘Exceeding’ result. So where to now? Both Teng and Treena readily acknowledge that their improvement journey has really only just begun. While they are celebrating their wonderful assessment results there are many new Quality Improvement Plan items to work through. An ongoing relationship with Gowrie SA is an integral part of their Professional Learning Plan. Teng is continuing his learning journey by enrolling to study his masters in teaching at University next year - what a great role model for his community! Advance your cAreer with Gowrie! call us now
Reflections Issue 60 Spring 2015