Síolta Standard 11 relates to the area of professional practice, saying ‘Practising in a professional manner requires that individuals have skills, knowledge, values and attitudes appropriate to their role and responsibility within the setting. In addition, it requires regular reflection upon practice and engagement in supported, ongoing professional development’.
Dr. Mary Moloney’s recent Scéalta post on the Code of Professional Responsibilities and Code of Ethics reminded us of the importance of acting in a professional way in our interactions with others, especially in the online space. She concludes her post saying ‘Remember, reflection is a professional responsibility and, a useful tool to guide professional behaviour’.
Which brings us neatly to another important way of enhancing our professionalism: by engaging in Continual Professional Development (CPD).
This can be done in a variety of ways. Every time we read a relevant online article and reflect on what we read, that’s CPD. When we pick up a magazine or journal and read it and consider: how do I do that, do I agree with this, does that idea fit with my values and beliefs, that’s CPD. Component 11.3 of Síolta says ‘The setting supports and promotes regular opportunity for practitioners to reflect upon and review their practice and contribute positively to the development of quality practice in the setting’.
Important and all as reading and self-reflection is, it can be a bit lonely at times! Nothing quite beats being there, having the opportunity to tease something out with a fellow professional. And that’s where attending conferences and seminars comes in. Component 12.4 says ‘Adults within the setting are encouraged and appropriately resourced to engage in a wide variety of regular and ongoing professional development’. Síolta identifies attending conferences and seminars as a key way to address this component. Any time we attend a good conference, we are challenged and stimulated by the ideas presented by the keynote speakers and masterclasses. We hear of new concepts, different ways of working that make us reflect on our own practice. This may lead to changes or tweaks in practice, or it may make us feel, ‘Yes, I’m doing a good job here’. That validation of our practice is vital. We often just need to try to find time in a busy schedule, where there are lots of demands and challenges, to slow down to think about what we’re doing and realise that our practice is good, that it is the best thing for children and we are the professionals who can own that. And then of course we need to accept there may be aspects we can and should change. But that comes from reflection and consideration, rather than making changes because someone just said it! The networking aspect of a good conference is where a lot of this can happen. Chatting with people at coffee breaks and lunch can hone our thinking, provide an opportunity to share ideas and give us that sense of collegiality that we can miss on a day to day basis, especially in smaller settings.
In Early Times Weekly this week you will see details of the fantastic speakers and masterclass presenters that will be at the Early Childhood Ireland Annual Conference on April 4th. If you are on Instagram or Facebook, you will have seen videos from Anthony Semann, our inspirational keynote speaker from Australia. So, come along, hear the speakers, attend the masterclasses you select and chat, network, share and be refreshed and revived in your professional role!
Looking forward to seeing you there!