Archive for Personal Learning Network

23 Nov 2013

Embracing the Early Years

1 Comment Being Intentional, Canadian ECE, Early Childhood Education, Personal Learning Network

Anyone who follows me on Twitter will know that I’ve been at a conference these past few days. As my sister put it I’ve been “blowing up [her] Twitter feed”. As I’m still processing everything, I’m sure I’ll have more to say in a few days, but I wanted to put out a quick post while I’m still on my conference high.

First of all, I met a lot of amazing people this week. Men and women who are working in the field of Early Childhood Education in a lot of capacities, including home child care, centre based child care, parent and family support, post-secondary education and many more. They came in from all across Ontario to learn together, which is an incredible thing, and always an enriching experience to get to learn and share with each other about our many varied experiences.

All of the Keynote speakers were amazing. Today, Lisa Murphy aka the Ooey Gooey Lady re-energized us on our last day by making us laugh and reminding us all of how much we have in common. One great take-away from that was that we should never ever underestimate the value of what we do or compromise our practice because of what others are doing or wanting us to do. Dr. Paul McGhee reminded us that humour is mental play, and taught us all the art of a good belly laugh. Dr. Stuart Shanker helped us to understand stress in ourselves and in the children that we care for, because we need to understand stress in order to self-regulate.  Dr. Paul Kershaw reminded us of the pressures undergoing Generation Squeeze and encouraged us to rally together for change. Nora Spinks, along a similar line, tried to show us the light when it came to finding work-life balance. Dr. Jean Clinton reminded us of the importance of relationships when it comes to brain development.

The workshops that I went to were equally amazing, which is also what I heard from others with regards to their workshops. What struck me about all of these workshops and keynotes, was this almost hidden thread running through all of them. That thread was about caring for the caregiver. On the surface this may have been a conference called “Embracing the Early Years“, it may have been a conference about working with very young children in their families, but what it came back to time and time again, was how important it was to be self-aware, to be self-reflective, to take care of ourselves so that we are equipped to take care of children and families. That’s my big “take home”, that’s what will really stay with me. I think that’s something every Early Childhood Educator should remember. We are our “best practice”, all of the education and the training and the equipment in the world won’t do us any good if we don’t take care of ourselves so that we can use it.

My deepest thanks go out to all of the committee members and the partners that put on this great conference. I hope there will be more in the future.

Conference Partners (in case you want to check them out).

Affiliated Services for Children and Youth

The Halton Resource Connection

Home Child Care Association of Ontario

Hamilton Best Start

Halton Our Kids Network

Guelph Wellington Quality Child Care Initiative

Early Childhood Professional Resource Centre

Conestoga College

Mohawk College

Sheridan College

03 Jan 2013

ECE and Technology

No Comments Early Childhood Education, Personal Learning Network, Social Media, Technology

I will admit that when I first started in the field of early childhood education I was skeptical about bringing technology into my practice. Like many out there I wasn’t sure that technology and early childhood went together. It wasn’t that I was adverse to technology generally, I have always been fairly “tech-savvy” and have spent many more hours on my computer, smart phone, tablet, etc. than I’d care to admit. In fact, since the field of early childhood doesn’t seem to attract those with computer skills, I have often found myself the unofficial IT dept of my workplace, in charge of all things computer, camera and even photocopier related. That being said, I found myself slowly discovering the benefits of technology in this field.

Working with infants and toddlers, I wasn’t putting a lot of technology into the hands of the children themselves. I believed then, as I still do now that under 2s don’t need any “screen time”. That being said, one of the biggest challenges for an infant/toddler caregiver is demonstrating the learning that occurs every day. A digital camera with video capabilities became my most indispensable tool to capture their learning. This was especially important when I worked in a Reggio inspired setting where documentation was a large part of our practice. Technology made the documentation process easier while providing a clearer and more refined picture of the gathered data.

It was around that same time I began to seek out resources that would support my work with infants in a Reggio inspired setting. I discovered an online group of ECEs who were Reggio inspired and searched for articles, activity ideas and other resources online. Over the years, the online ECE communities have grown as blogging and social media have become more popular. There are more resources now, online journals and magazines, and through social media, ECEs and teachers are forming Personal Learning Networks, something that I have found to be of great value, as I’ve mentioned before.

I will admit that I’ve become a convert. I believe that early childhood education and technology need to be linked. I think there is value for the children, but more than that I think that there is great value for the educator in incorporating technology into their practice. As with everything, we just need to be intentional in the way that we use it.

Photo by Table4Five on Flickr

12 Sep 2012

My Social Media Journey

13 Comments Personal Learning Network, Social Media

I have found myself reflecting a lot lately on my own foray into social media. This is in part because of two conferences that I have coming up in the next few months. The first is Blissdom Canada¬† a women’s social media conference, which I attended for the first time last year and the second is an Early Childhood Education and Social Media conference where I will be speaking about my experiences with Twitter. Social media, for me, has been an ongoing journey and I have learned a lot along the way. I have a much better idea now of what I want from this site and from Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, etc. than I did when I first began. However, I don’t always feel that I’m moving at a fast enough pace.

Last year, when I left Blissdom Canada I was on Cloud 9; I had heard amazing speakers, met some incredible women and even had the courage to get up on stage and sing Karaoke. I felt confident and motivated to work on my brand, to blog more, to throw myself into CanadianECE. However, in the weeks that followed Blissdom, life happened. I made the very difficult decision to leave my steady, decent paying job and to try something new, something that isn’t as secure, but is on the path to what might be my dream job. Unfortunately this has meant that some of what I’d hoped to accomplish over the last year hasn’t happened. I haven’t had the time or the head space to blog as often as I had planned to, I haven’t built up my CanadianECE brand the way I had hoped. So now with another Blissdom Canada coming up in just over a month, I find myself feeling apprehensive, because I’m not much better off this year than I was last year. How do I face all those women who have accomplished so much, when it feels like I have accomplished so little?

That being said, I have still learned a lot this year, about myself and about what I want from Social Media. Initially, I thought that this site and social media in general was only about the content that I was creating, what I was putting out there to the world. However, what I have learned over the past year, in part due to my involvement with Twitter and #ecetechchat, is that what is most meaningful for me are the interactions and the relationships that Social Media supports. My Personal Learning Network has grown on a global level and as an Early Childhood Educator, this has become the most significant way that I can continue to reflect on and grow my own practice in the field. The connections that I have made and the conversations that I have had, may not feel as tangible as site visit numbers or blog post counts, but they have been significant for me. They have shaped my journey over the last year and supported my transition into my new career path.

I still have a vision for this site, though, and I still feel like I should be doing more, but I guess for today, what I’ve developed is enough, even if I can’t show it off to all those wonderful women in October.

Photo from apdk on Flickr