Critical Reflection, Continuity of learning and Professional Practice

Three years ago on September 18 2019 I started at St Luke’s Catholic College as Director of the Catholic Early Learning Centre (CELC) and what a wonderful journey it has been!

Tweet from 18 September 2017.

This prompted me to reflect on my experiences during this time and some things that have been reaffirmed and/or I have learnt along the way.

The Importance of Critical Reflection

“Blog weeks’ at St Luke’s can stir feelings of discomfort as I ponder on what to write and to share.  What have I been doing that a wider audience may find interesting?

I enjoy reading my colleagues’ blogs to learn about their experiences across the school setting from the CELC to Stage 4. Further to this, when writing a blog, I quite often come to a deeper level of understanding for myself on what I have been grappling with. Critical reflection is not easy!

Since we opened in February 2018 the CELC team have continually reflected on elements of the day, on our planning and programming, on our groupings, documentation formats and routines.  It is embedded in our practices.

Reflections over time have seen positive changes along the way and new learnings. Most recently this occurred via the introduction of new room groupings at the CELC and has been very well received.

Though challenging and uncomfortable at times, critical reflection has supported our efforts to sustain our shared vision and purpose on how to implement this effectively.  Critical reflection is required and needs to continue as a means to building a professional culture of collaboration and inquiry.

Continuity of experience

Continuity of experience from their early years setting to their school setting promotes positive outcomes for children and their families.

Connections formed between St Luke’s Catholic Early Learning Centre (CELC) and Kindergarten (Early Stage One) have supported the continuity of experience for children who continue their learning into Early Stage one the following year.

Continuity of experience for the children, connections between the CELC and school setting and collaboration with families is supporting a positive transition for children as they move from the CELC to school.

We have seen this in action!

Children and families are introduced to St Luke’s Pillars of learning at the CELC. From their experiences at the CELC, the children are practising and developing the St Luke’s Pillars of Learning including relating with others, managing self, creative thinking and to communicate and collaborate. This helps to provide a positive transition via a continuity of experience in their learning. There is not a ‘push down’ of academic expectations for the children at the CELC to be ‘school ready.’  Continuity of experience, connections and collaboration is supporting a positive transition.

Professional practice in Early childhood guides quality outcomes for everyone – teachers, educators, children and families.

This year, I have explored the Early Childhood Australia (ECA) Code of Ethics more closely and used this as a guide for many CELC team meetings. As a team we have used the ECA Code of Ethics to support reflections on our own personal beliefs, our practices and interactions.  

The ECA Code of Ethics has a set of core principles to guide the early childhood sector. It includes key points of reference to guide practices and behaviour of early childhood professionals in relation to children; families; community and society, colleagues and the profession.

Professionalism is demonstrated when management, educators and other staff develop and maintain relationships with each other….. Team collaboration that is based on understanding the expectations and attitudes of team members and build on the strength of each other’s knowledge, help nurture constructive professional relationships.

Guide to the National Quality Framework, ACECQA, 2018, p 215

The ECA Code of Ethics has been used as a point of reference to create our own mission statement, applying this to the Catholic Diocese Parramatta Services Limited principles of Respect, Encourage and Care.

High quality early learning environments requires the skills and knowledge of professionals who engage in professional practices that shape the environment, display and encourage professional behaviours, engage in positive interactions which create a positive culture.

When reading over my previous blogs I came across the following which I wrote in December 2017 which still rings true today.

It is inspiring to work alongside a supportive team who are professionally engaged, constantly striving to develop and grow alongside the students they teach.

I have thoroughly enjoyed building a team of passionate teachers and educators, working as part of a school community, being a part of a supportive leadership team, having a wider support network of Directors and being engaged in something I love.

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