Want to change practice?
Chances are it will take more than a PD session…
It’s true you know. Having been in the sector for soooo long (it’s no secret, nothing’s sacred anymore…) I have had the absolute privilege of sitting in on so many wonderful keynotes, workshops and professional development sessions that I have absolutely lost count.
I have been inspired, been made to cry and been super proud of my colleagues, professors and a host of other people. I have also been challenged, and been disappointed, and been a little bit cross sometimes by what people say (about our profession, and more concerning, about children). I have also had a lot of money spent on me by well-meaning organisations and from my own pocket. Most were one-off events.
When I think back on this lifetime of experiences, I have experienced an enormous 360 degree pivot in both my practice, and in my theoretical knowledge of the early years. My practice in my first few years, with the beauty of hindsight, is something I am now not entirely proud of. Practices that I know now do children no justice were common practice. I’m not going to name and shame myself, but suffice to say, if I had my time over….
Now, as I said the beauty of hindsight is a wonderful thing. When I think about what contributed to my 360 degree pivot, it was not the wonderful, one-off PD sessions that I attended. It was not the inspiring keynotes.
It was through watching thoughtful, intentional colleagues ‘in practice’ with children that made me stop in my tracks and question what I was doing.
It was through having a couple of mentors over the years who, no matter how trivial or naïve my question, would take the time to work through with me (over time!) to change not only my physical practice – but my THINKING. (Because that’s really what’s got to change).
It was in having teams where we had an inquiring culture to ask “Why did you practice in that way?” and be open to sharing, to constructive and collaborative critique and to talking about OUR PRACTICE regularly. Like, every day.
It was in doing study tours. Having emersion experiences where I could spend time, to just be, to understand an Other, and again, in having those who were open to sharing their stories and ways with me, so I could get better at Being with young children.
It was in reading. Reading took me to another place where I could be challenged and provoked in my thinking within the safety and security of my mind.
Don’t get me wrong, professional development sessions contributed to my change, but they were not the driver in bettering my practice and growing my understanding of how young children grow, develop and learn. Coaching, mentoring, on the job learning, talking about practice, reading…they were all the drivers of change. And just quietly, I’m not the only one to think this way. Google it.
So, if you are interested in growing your practice, think differently about how you could do it today. There are many different programs and options available today, that can support practice change over time so that you grow – not only in your practice, but in your understanding and THINKING – because really, that’s what’s got to change if we are to do justice to children’s potential.