Reflection on Practice…
For the past 12 months, I have been facilitating Reflection on Practice (RoP) Sessions. I have been working collaboratively with other Early Childhood Professionals to put together sessions on Positive Behaviour Guidance and Using Communication and Visuals to Support the Care Environment.
Based on the feedback that was received after the sessions, many Educators reflected they wanted more training and strategies on behaviour.
If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always got…
Recently, I facilitated the first RoP session titled “Tools to Support the Care Environment”. In the past the sessions have been limited to 8 Educators and to 2 hours. This time we allocated up to 20 spots and this RoP would be held over 2 sessions of 3 & 2 hours. In putting this session together, I worked collaboratively with a colleague of mine Lisa, who has worked in the field of inclusion for many years. She also still currently teaches support classes at a Primary School in Sydney.
Lisa has over 10 years teaching experience and has worked in a variety of roles ranging from Early Intervention and supporting families through to working 7 years in an Autism Specific School. With extensive experience teaching children with additional needs such as ASD and Cerebral Palsy, Lisa has highly specialised skills with supporting the care environment through the use of visuals and Makaton (now Keyword Sign).
Understanding what is behaviour:
When a child consistently presents with behaviours that are challenging or puzzling, our first response is often instinctive. This response is based on our own experience as children and/or as parents. This initial response may be unhelpful bringing with it a complex web of relationships, values and expectations that hold little relevance to the child and their situation.
If we want to have a better understanding of children’s behaviour, we need to view it though a new lens. The ‘Circle of Security’ model (Marvin, Cooper, Hoffman & Powell, 2002) is one way. This model translates attachment theory (which is complex) into a working model for both parents and childcare staff to apply to their daily practice.
We need to;
- Manage roles so that there is always an adult physically and emotionally available to children.
- Being aware of where children are on the circle and what intervention is required to help them manage their emotions.
- Providing safe hands for each child – a refuge for when their emotions are too big for them to manage.
- Reflecting on how we can support all children to effectively use the circle, at the same time teaching emotional regulation.
For more information on Circle of Security, you can purchase Robyn Dolby’s “The Circle of Security: Roadmap to building supportive relationships” (e-version) from the Early Childhood Australia shop. Currently this is reduced to $10.
Considering our Care Environment:
During this RoP session we reflected on the impact of the Early Childhood environment. Below is a visual to highlight that the minute we walk in the door to work, our bubble expands to include Children, Families, Educators and our own outside negative (or positive) influences.
The responses shared by the Educators at the RoP were that this image was overwhelming. Some other feedback included;
“Understanding to be more patient and communicate more with co-workers.”
“To ensure to share ideas with all Educators.”
“Reflect on the environment more regularly.”
“To consider thinking about all people who are involved in the environment.”
“To remember everyone has impacts in their live.”
In considering keeping our children to feel safe and secure, we need to look at our Care Environment; we need to look at many different aspects. These include;
- Consistent Routines “How do we do that?”
- Consistent Educators
- Consistent rules & values “Who’s involved?”
- Language “Are we talking positively?”
- Child appropriate
- Consistent approach with challenges or is the same outcome & consequence for each scenario
Reflecting on our Teaching:
We split into groups and reflected on our care environments and considered some of the challenges we encounter on a regular basis. Many Educators shared very similar scenarios and we reflected on some of our own personal barriers. Professionally supporting each other we looked closely at strategies for visuals, routines, transitions and expectations of the children, our colleagues and ourselves. Below are examples of visuals; Quadrant turn-taking clock and Boardmaker Visuals for Group Time.
The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) has some fantastic resources which are easily accessible and free. These range from templates to videos which can be used as great supportive tools. Here are some links;
Professional Learning Program Materials: http://www.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/nqsplp/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/EYLFPLP_E-Newsletter_No20.pdf
Further Professional Development:
If you would like for Lisa or myself (or both) to provide further support through role-modelling or facilitate a Reflection on Practice Session at your service, you can PM via email@example.com (please note we are in the area of Sydney, NSW).
Children’s Services Central: http://www.cscentral.org.au/development/cscentral-professional-development.html
Early Learning Association Australia: https://elaa.org.au/services_resources/training