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Reflections Magazine : Reflections Magazine Issue 51
REFLECTIONS • GOWRIE AUSTRALIA • WINTER 2013 - ISSUE 51 Our learning community was established with participants registering and so our learning journey commenced. The session content was inspired and gathered from a range of sources and through endless discussion and reflection over many meetings. Although we had a framework and overview of content for the duration of the series, it was apparent, as the sessions progressed, that our discussions would be influenced by the experiences, perspectives, questions and the manifestations of the educational leaders' role at the participants' services. During 2012 we co-facilitated two learning communities consisting of eight two-hour sessions. Numbers increased in the second round, and there was a very different learning dynamic to those participants who attended the first series. It seemed that the increased interest reflected educators' growing familiarity and level of comfort with the role of educational leader within the sector as NQF settled. The content of both workshop series was changeable, resulting in a structure of discussions and provocations that unfolded according to the evolving needs of each group. As co-presenters, we would meet every other week to identify the focus for the following learning community session. To support the fortnightly meetings, participants maintained a reflective journal, readings were distributed and questions posed between sessions. The intention of sharing information and documenting a reflective journal was to underpin participants' knowledge regarding leadership and to better support and assist them in their educational leadership role. Enacting the role of an educational leader in different contexts, active discussions about one's identity as a leader, coaching versus mentoring, and respect for adult learning styles helped participants to articulate an understanding of what an educational leader would look like in individual workplaces. Following on from their experience of developing and co-presenting the "Educational Leader: A Learning Community" series, Jenny and Merise offer the following considerations for educational leaders who are facilitating their own learning communities in individual services: • Explore and continually reflect on your individual leadership skills. Are you an 'enabler' or an 'egotist'? Do you facilitate or dictate other educators' development regarding the programme and children's learning? Have you articulated your own 'vision' on how to lead other educators' learning and development? • Question and challenge your own understanding of the National Quality Framework (NQF) and Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF). How confident are you in your knowledge and understanding of the NQF and EYLF? As an early childhood education and care service, what is your commitment to children's learning? Can all of the educators in your service articulate what they know and believe about children's learning? • Be confident about your service's philosophy. Take the time to consider whether it authentically reflects your beliefs and understandings about how children learn. • Acknowledge and work with different learning styles, backgrounds and experiences of the educators in your team. What is the impact of the current situation on each learner? How does each individual respond to challenge about children's learning considering their background and experience -- in the long term and for each session? What is the impact of the current situation on each learner's contributions? • Consider your team's knowledge regarding pedagogy and early childhood practice in general, and their understanding about how it occurs in your service. Do your team members have sufficient sound underpinning knowledge to be comfortable with their decisions about facilitating children's learning? • Maintain and model a constant state of critical reflection. Have you considered and made decisions about children's learning in light of the most current theories and research? Do you reflect critically? What provocations can you pose to foster a culture of critical thought and reflection in others? How can you inform your own and your team of educators' knowledge about pedagogy and children's learning? • Reflect upon your 'identity' as a leader. Are you building the capabilities of other educators or assuming responsibility for them? How are you maintaining and building your vision as it relates to the program and children's learning? What strategies have you been using to guide and develop the educators' or learners' knowledge to support their practices to guide children's learning and development? Have you been transparent in your dealings and interactions with the learners whilst engaged in professional discussions? • Ensure you consider, discuss and model with your learners the consideration of 'context' when evaluating and examining certain practices, processes, ideas and systems. Will this work with your children and families? How will the ideas assimilate into your current provision of education and care? Is it a strategy, idea or practice that will synergise with your service's philosophy about children's learning? References: Community of Practice retrieved 23 Jan 2013 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_of_practice> Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Reflections Magazine Issue 52