"Being a Learner" is such an important aspect of my professional identity. As an early childhood educator it forms a strong basis to my leadership philosophy. The longer I am immersed within early childhood pedagogy the more I value the process of learning and how this shapes my practice. It plays a significant role in who I am as a teacher, leader and consultant. I believe the more we can lead and inspire our colleagues in early childhood to embrace the concept of 'learning' as part of their 'being' - the more we will see wonderfully unique and flexible ways to approach leadership and teaching.
I recently asked my 4 year old what he thought about learning and his response really got me thinking. He said " it means you have to keep practicing, practicing and lots of practicing all the time”. He had not even finished his sentence when he was compelled to drop to the ground and 'show me' exactly what this meant! "It is like this, an elephant' and "like this too, a meerkat' as he showed me his most recent innovative yoga poses. Taking something new he had learnt (yoga) and through his own experiences he was able to transform his learning into an original pose!
Such a powerful example of what learning really means! It is in the DOING.
According to Tony Bingham & Marcia Conner's definition of learning it is the transformative process of taking in information that –when internalised and mixed with what we have experienced- changes what we know and builds on what we do. It is based on input, process and reflection. It is what changes us”
Learning means we must get comfortable in the uncomfortable! For those that have experienced this know that this is not easy! Learning is hard! It requires persistence, discipline and good old fashion practice!
We must also be 'open minded' and willing to be thinkers, to question and to interpret our experiences so that we then make sense of our pedagogy and practice.
Let's stop looking for shortcuts in our learning, for quick fixes and appreciate that learning is not something we can speed up! In rushing we run the risk of always being on the surface - no real depth! Depth requires us to test, collaborate and trial our theories. Making sense of our experiences is part of the process and what I consider the most important part too! It is what shapes and influences our pedagogy, our thinking, our decisions and practices. It deserves time! So lets protect this in our classrooms, services and organisations.
Let's take time to engage in some REAL learning and give our colleagues permission within a safe environment to learn through authentic trial and error. Rodd (2015) explains we run the risk of “individuals, teams, and workplace culture quickly becoming bored, jaded, demotivated, apathetic, uninvolved and indifferent” if learning climates are not protected.
A final thought........
• 10% of workplace learning occurs through formal training
• 20% comes through communicating and feedback from others
• 70% comes from practical experience’s, tasks and problem solving
(Rodd, p127, 2015)
My appeal to early childhood leaders and teaching teams is to
protect our educators time to learn!
What learning are you putting to practice currently?
How can you protect your teams time to learn?
Rodd, J. (2015). Leading Change in the Early Years: Principles and Practice. Open University Press, McGraw-Hill Education.