Incorporating the College’s CPL program at work
By Sharon Ho
Development and lifelong learning mean a lot to Tanya Taylor. Since being hired as a Registered Early Childhood Educator (RECE) at the Teddy Bear Educational Center in Sudbury, Ontario, Taylor has been involved in lifelong professional learning to keep up to date on her profession and ultimately , to improve as an educator and as a person.
The Teddy Bear Education Center employs 38 RECEs in four different facilities. According to CEO Tracy Saarikoski RECE, the company values professional learning because it helps develop leaders and supports lifelong learning. The center asks its RECEs to use professional learning portfolios to track what they learn each year and tries to fit in opportunities
professional learning in all their activities.
“We have always valued the reflective work done through the portfolio,” says Ms. Saarikoski. Professional portfolios are part of our functions. They show that professional learning is very important to us. We also offer many opportunities
learning, both externally and independently. “
In addition, the Teddy Bear Center is now incorporating the College of Early Childhood Educators (CPE) Continuing Professional Learning (CPA) program into its portfolios, which involves using the Learning Opportunities diagram and encourage staff to
establish CPA goals from the Learning Opportunities Diagram. RECEs also receive letters of advice throughout the year for their portfolios. These letters can include suggestions or recognize accomplishments.
“I found it strange having a Teddy Bear portfolio and also being on the Order’s CPA program,” said Ms. Saarikoski. So we met, as a team, to tell our employees that we wanted to help them set professional goals that integrate the goals of the CPA program into one single portfolio. “
Most RECEs, including Taylor, currently participate in the College’s CPA program. In this context, Taylor’s goal is to strengthen her bonds with her colleagues and improve her communication skills. In order to achieve her first goal, she took part in a team building workshop and read a management book to learn how to build special relationships with her colleagues and children.
Taylor is a member of a workplace community of practice, where she focuses on strengthening her communication skills in order to improve relationships with colleagues and families who use Teddy Bear’s services. She is also part of a Sudbury Community of Practice, which meets monthly to learn, discuss and collaborate.
“We give each other the opportunity to try something new in a safe environment,” says Taylor, referring to the Sudbury community of practice. “Every year we read a book about the estate. We discuss it and put into practice some elements of it. “
Through her professional learning, Taylor reflects on her work regularly. Also, she collaborates more with her colleagues and the children of her after-school program. She believes that lifelong learning has motivated her colleagues at the Teddy Bear Center to be more creative and
“If we provide children, families, and ourselves with such nurturing environments and so many learning opportunities, then we will be successful and eventually achieve excellence,” says Taylor.
Reflective practice is an integral part of the Taylor learning process. After completing an activity or reaching a goal, she reflects on what she has learned, what she still wonders about, what needs clarification, and what next steps to take.
“Yes, it takes time,” she says. The time required is one thing, of course, but the enrichment that comes with it goes way beyond the mere number of hours you put into it. “
For RECEs who have not been allocated time for lifelong learning by the employer, Taylor suggests doing a little bit every day.
“It only takes five minutes a day,” she emphasizes. I understand RECEs have privacy and responsibilities. It might be hard to find five minutes a day, so if it’s not today, do it tomorrow. These five minutes are so worth it and will really benefit
your practice. “