I have just attended a wonderful Childspace Conference in Rotorua, New Zealand. (http://www.childspace.co.nz/files/Keynotes.pdf).

Previously we have just indicated our interest in professional development to our supervisor and if there was budget available, off we went. In these tight financial times some early childhood centres are slashing their professional development budgets, working with higher staff: child ratios and economizing on resources. We still have a budget available for staff professional development, however it is tighter than it was for various reasons, not just a whim from our manager. She is dealing with other constraints and pressures as well.

As a result, we now have to justify the expense.

I have found one of the best ways to gain funding and approval to attend a conference or workshop is to align the expected learning to the registered teacher criteria, staff appraisal, personal teaching philosophy, centre philosophy and make a strong written case for attending.

We have invented a professional development reflection form to fill out and staff must report back to a staff meeting after 3 months.

The case for attendance should include a thought around Return on Investment for your early childhood centre.

The return on investment could include:

  • up-to date information on practice
  • information shared via handouts and a short presentation at a staff meeting so others can benefit from attendance
  • trade fair information
  • networking and sharing strategies
  • create a learning action plan to show how you will utilize the skills gained

Ideas to influence positively for attendance at a particular professional development session:

  • plan the roster so your absence is covered if the workshop is during work time (in NZ most early childhood professional development is at night – outside of working hours and is an expected way of developing professionally)
  • offer to share a room or carpool to reduce expenses
  • performance appraisal indicates improvement is needed
  • to benchmark the status of improvement in a performance improvement effort
  • as part of an overall professional development plan
  • as part of succession planning
  • to train about a specific topic
  • to test a new performance management system

Reasons you should go are:

  • increased job satisfaction
  • higher levels of morale
  • increased efficiencies in processes
  • increased capacity to try new technologies and methods
  • increased teaching innovations
  • Reduced employee turnover
  • Enhanced company reputation as a good place to work – to attract high quality staff
  • Risk management, e.g., training about sexual harassment, Treaty of Waitangi training  diversity training

Our Pilot form

What motivates you to attend this professional development course?

What type of knowledge are you seeking and what knowledge do you value?

How will this professional development affect you as a teacher?

How will it affect children’s learning?

How will you use what you have learned

How will this professional development course affect centre environment and other staff learning?

 Provide evidence after 3 months to discuss in a staff meeting:

What was the impact of this workshop on your development as a teacher?

How did this professional development extend children’s learning, development and increase positive learning outcomes for children?

How did this professional development help other staff members to improve their skills and practices?

 

This reflection is a start to encourage staff to be selective and reflective about the professional development courses we attend.

Staff need to link all professional development to staff appraisal, centre philosophy and personal teaching philosophy.

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