In the Early Childhood field, we are constantly looking for ways to improve our practice. We strive to do our best for the children we are so privileged to work with. We hear a lot of great ideas at the workshops we attend, but putting them into practice can be difficult. Here are 5 ways to make the most of your Professional Development.
Be a Willing Participant
While attending a workshop, it’s tempting to just sit back, relax, and daydream about our plans for afterward. This is not the best attitude foster personal growth from Professional Development opportunities. Typically in my area, workshops take place on the weekend, so it involves giving up our own time to attend. Making it a point to show up, and to be active. Actively listening, asking questions, or physically volunteering all go a long way towards retaining the information being pass on to you. You make it what it is. Be willing to grow, be open to new ideas, and do it with a smile 🙂 It’s amazing what a smile can do to change the moods of people around us.
If you are anything like me, you have a great memory… but it’s awfully short. Taking some fun pens and a journal along to record any helpful information you hear is a great idea. Keep your notes neat so they are easy to reread down the road. Some workshops have handouts that provide a space for writing. If you plan on keeping these, it’s a great place for quick notes as well. Being able to reflect back on your Professional Development is key to growing and implementing ideas. After the workshop, make sure you take a few minutes to tuck away your resources in your Professional Development journal.
Attend a Variety of Workshops
There are workshops geared towards almost every aspect of Early Childhood. We all tend to have our preferences when in comes to what type of workshop we attend. Yes, I know, science and sensory are generally more fun and you get to relive your childhood for a while. But keep an open mind, and sign yourself up for something outside your comfort zone. You don’t grow if you don’t challenge yourself!
Is there a particular topic in the ECE field you have questions about? Wish they would come up with a workshop you could attend to answer those questions? Well, be proactive about it. Find out who you can contact in your area to make workshop suggestions. Make a five-minute call, or send a quick email. In my experience, coordinators are more than happy to know what the people (ECEs) want. Voice your opinions!
In most child care settings, various staff members attend workshops together. Scheduling a staff meeting within a few days of a workshop gives you the chance to reflect and collaborate on what you’ve taken away from the workshop. Discuss any new methods (if any) you would like to see at your centre. Come up with a plan and, with your co-workers on board; make the change 🙂
Although change is a bit intimidating for most of us, it’s a sure way to help us grow as Early Childhood Educators. Afraid of failure? Well, just take a look around at all the little ones in your care. They get back up when they fall down and they learn from their mistakes. We must be determined to try our best and being willing to get our hands dirty to improve our practice… with the children’s best interests at heart.
Is there anything else you would add to the list? Please share in the comment section below 🙂
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