Reflections on Quality is an invitation to reflect by Anna Nguyen-Sgro, Quality Specialist, Children’s Services, Halton Region
The quality of an early learning and child care program depends greatly on the knowledge, skills and competencies of educators. While Registered Early Childhood Educators (RECE) are required to have some pre-service training, the profession of Early Childhood Education is one that requires ongoing learning to stay abreast of the latest research, practices and policies. For those who are not Registered Educators, but work within the scope of practice of Early Childhood Education, ongoing professional learning is also important. Through continuous learning, educators have the opportunity to build their professional knowledge and skills, which is necessary to maintain a high standard of professional competence and a high level of quality care. As described in How Does Learning Happen? Educators are lifelong learners who “take responsibility for their own learning and make decisions about ways to integrate knowledge from theory, research, their own experience and their understanding of the individual children and families they work with.” A lifelong commitment to professional learning is critical for improving the quality of early childhood programs. and ensuring the best outcomes for children and families.
Research confirms professional learning is linked to quality in the following ways:
- Professional learning leads to higher pedagogical quality
- Professional learning leads to better outcomes for children in multiple areas of development
- Professional learning supports workforce stability, increasing staff retention and motivation and lowering rates of turnover
Most often when the people think about “professional learning” they envision conferences, workshops or other formal learning opportunities. Professional learning is a term used to describe a multitude of activities, ranging from formal to informal, that can support professional knowledge and growth.
The College of Early Childhood Educators has suggested some examples of professional learning vehicles such as:
In Ontario, the College of Early Childhood Educators requires all Registered Early Childhood Educators (RECEs) to participate in the Continuous Professional Learning (CPL) program. Beginning September 2017, members must begin the CPL Portfolio Cycle which involves a self-assessment, professional learning plan and activities, and record of professional learning. For professionals who are not registered with the College, this tool may also be of interest and value to you as you consider your professional learning journey. More information is available on the College of ECE website. By engaging in continuous professional learning, educators will strengthen their understanding and application of the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.
In Halton Region, The Halton Resource Connection (THRC) strives to be a leader and essential partner for professional excellence. The professional resource library and THRC publication offer many ways for you to access professional learning, catering to different interests, learning styles and levels of experience.
Invitation to Reflect:
- What professional learning activities help you to keep current of the latest research, practices and policies in early childhood education?
- In what ways might you incorporate professional learning into your daily practice? Consider no-cost or low-cost possibilities.
- How might you collaborate and co-learn with your colleagues to achieve your professional learning goals?
- How will the CPL portfolio cycle support your professional learning journey?
Anna Nguyen-Sgro, RECE, MA
Quality Specialist, Child Care System
Halton Region, Children’s Services