01 SES 10 B, Habitus, Culture, and Creativity in Reflection
Quality in early-childhood education and care is a decisive element in children’s development and learning, with professional standards of practitioners a critical element in ensuring quality provision. This paper emerges from an ongoing research project into professional development initiatives for ECEC practitioners in Denmark, focusing on a practice-based initiative engaging with the Abecedarian Approach to adult-child interactions -Educational Quality in Daycare (EQD). We consider the facilitation of collaborative learning, as well as how the influence of such initiatives may be studied. As emphasised by Schachter (2015), focusing analysis of PD principally on fidelity measures - the extent to which practitioners follow prescribed procedures of the PD initiative – is limiting. To consider influence of PD and its impact on quality in ECEC, it is necessary to investigate whether it changes professional practices and child outcomes.
Acknowledgement of limitation of fidelity measures, inform design of the (EQD). To be undertaken from 2020-2023, this investigates crucial indicators of PD quality, and thus its capacity to lift standards in ECEC. EQD specifically targets family day-care practitioners in 11 municipalities across Denmark, focusing on 0-2 year olds. The initiative progresses over four modules, comprising foundational elements from Abecedarian and focusing on strengthening participants’ planning, evaluation, reflection and practice through knowledge sharing in learning communities. The PD process gears towards increasing opportunities for participation and collaboration, by establishing three learning contexts in each municipality: workshops (involving researchers and educational managers) learning groups (comprising family day-carers) and the home (where individual practitioners work with children). Each module has two workshops for educational managers only: one focusing on appropriation of theoretical content and tools in practice, and one on supporting practice-based learning - supporting practitioners’ use of project resources in practice as well as their participation in learning-groups. These workshops equip managers to work together with practitioners in small, stable learning groups, where all participants have direct access to EQD resources through a digital learning platform. EQD resources include films, pamphlets and articles covering theoretical content, models, activities, practical suggestions and digital tools for planning, evaluation and reflection. This platform becomes practitioners’ primary access to educational resources in EQD, establishing opportunities for equal participation. Design shifts from regulative control, towards facilitation of participant-driven, work-oriented practice-based learning processes informed by theory and evidence-based practices of Abecedarian.
A practice theory (Schatzki 2002) framework focuses attention on how practices interconnect and inform one another across the three contexts, and social learning theories (Lave and Wenger 1991; Dreier 2008) train analysis on persons participating in these practices. This analytical framework allows consideration of PD from an organisational learning perspective, emphasising “processes of participation and interaction” (Brandi & Elkjaer, 2012). EQD emphasises establishment of learning communities – encouraging participants to reflect on how resources from Abecedarian can be appropriated to strengthen work practices and thereby quality in ECEC, encouraging dynamics of innovation within existing conditions in local settings. Cultures of reflection encourage active engagement with elements of Abecedarian in situated practices. Rather than emphasising strong leadership from individual managers to drive implementation, engagement in leadership and change processes is distributed among participants. The role of managers is to facilitate participative innovation based on actualities of conditions at local sites. By establishing a cohesive and inclusive learning environment and developing specific, situated practices, learning can become a collaborative endeavour. This reflects growing consensus in European research (Jensen and Iannone 2018), emphasising innovative practice-based approaches to continuous PD in ECEC, enabling sustainable change through engagements between different sites, evidence-based practices and practitioners, rather than targetting individual qualification.
The paper builds on findings from a multi-sited ethnography, covering three of the municipalities participating in the EQD initiative. This detailed ethnographic study investigates learning processes in the PD initiative, following the manifestation of practice-based learning processes as they unfold within and across the three learning contexts established : workshops (involving researchers and educational managers) learning groups (comprising family day-carers) and the home (where individual practitioners work with children). A uniform case design is adopted in each of the three municipalities. Empirical material is produced through observation of EQD workshops and observations of meetings in municipal management meetings, where they coordinate their work with the EQD initiative. Furthermore, group meetings between selected learning communities of day-care practitioners are observed. Individual day-care practitioners from these groups are observed at work, over four intervals covering the duration of the PD initiative. Interviews are conducted with managers and participants at the beginning and end of the initiative, enabling insight into their experiences of the learning dynamics which play out. This encompasses consideration of organization and leadership of learning processes, the influence of EQD resources and tools on interactions in situated work practices, as well as eventual changes in practitioner’s understandings and professional identity.
The ethnography studies how the endeavour of establishing a coordinated system of practice-based PD influences adult-child interactions in situated practices, so crucial to process quality. Preliminary findings suggest that opportunities for coordinated reflection in learning groups supports participants' engagement with the resources of the PD. This establishes a common frame of reference and shared language that makes examination and consideration of specific practices, such as reading with children and different approaches to linguistic interaction, possible. Observations suggest that this encourages experimentation with these practices in the workplace, informing the manner in which practitioners approach their work with children and re-energising routine tasks. The cultures of reflection orchestrated through the PD initiative provide an opportunity for professional practices to be rejuvenated, where participants' understanding of the importance of their own role and their capacity to support the educational development and well-being of children is revitalised.
Brandi, Ulrik, and Bente Elkjaer. 2012. "Organizational Learning Viewed from a Social Learning Perspective." In Handbook of Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management, edited by rk Easterby-Smith and rjorie A. Lyles, 21-41. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Brunsek, Ashley, Michal Perlman, Evelyn McMullen, Olesya Falenchuk, Brooke Fletcher, Gabriella Nocita, Nellie Kamkar, and Prakesh S. Shah. 2020. "A meta-analysis and systematic review of the associations between professional development of early childhood educators and children's outcomes." Early Childhood Research Quarterly 53:217-48. doi: 10.1016/j.ecresq.2020.03.003. Dreier, O. 2008. "Learning in Structures of Social Practice." In A Qualitative Stance Essays in honor of Steinar Kvale, edited by S Brinkmann and C Elmholdt, 85-96. Aarhus Universitetsforlag. Hamre, Bridget K., Ann Partee, and Christina Mulcahy. 2017. "Enhancing the Impact of Professional Development in the Context of Preschool Expansion." AERA Open 3 (4):233285841773368. doi: 10.1177/2332858417733686. Jensen, Bente, and Rosa Lisa Iannone. 2018. "Innovative Approaches to Continuous Professional Development (CPD) in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) in Europe: Findings from a Comparative Review." European Journal of Education 53 (1):23-33. Lave, Jean, and Etienne Wenger. 1991. Situated learning : legitimate peripheral participation. Edited by Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger, Learning in doing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Schachter, Rachel E. 2015. "An Analytic Study of the Professional Development Research in Early Childhood Education." Early education and development 26 (8):1057-85. doi: 10.1080/10409289.2015.1009335. Schatzki, Theodore R. 2002. The Site of the Social : A Philosophical Account of the Constitution of Social Life and Change. Wenger, Etienne. 1998. Communities of practice : learning, meaning, and identity, Learning in doing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Zeichner, Ken. 2012. "The Turn Once Again Toward Practice-Based Teacher Education." Journal of Teacher Education 63 (5):376-82. doi: 10.1177/0022487112445789.
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