In this end of module assignment I have adhered to the E100 ethical guidance by ensuring that I have changed all names including children, parents and colleagues. I have gained signed permission from parents to say that for the purpose of my study I can observe selected children. I can confirm that I have only used material drawn from the setting identified within the employer permission agreement form. Introduction
In my end of module assignment I will be discussing how I as a practitioner have developed throughout the E100 module. I will also be reviewing parts of my learning while studying towards an early year’s degree with The Open University. My assignment will include areas in which I have developed within my role including examples of how I have changed my practice due to things that I have learnt over the past year. In order to structure my assignment I will include the first paragraph which will be an insight into why I chose to study the E100 module then I will be using the chapter titles from study topic 18 as sub headings, they will be as follows – section one ‘Reflective practice’ then section two ‘A community of practice’ then section three ‘enquiry based leadership and development’ and finally section four ‘planning professional leadership and development’. In each of these sections I will discuss how the study topics and course materials have helped me develop my own practice. Also as an appendix to my assignment I will include a Professional Development Plan and will discuss links between my development over the last year and the E100 course materials. I currently work in a setting that has children between the age of three months and five years. At the moment I am working with the pre –school age range, there are currently 35 children registered into the pre-school, but we only have a maximum of 24 children per day and a team of three practitioners one of which is a qualified teacher. E100 The Early Years: Developing practice
The E100 module was a good choice for me to begin my study with the Open University. I decided to undertake the Honours degree in Early Years Care to develop my understanding of the way in which children learn and develop and also to develop my own practice and gain new insights into the everyday care of children and young people. Reflective practice
The term reflective practice is commonly used with in Early Years settings and involves critically analyzing actions in the aim to improve professional practice. When reflecting on practice it is important to identify good and bad practice that can then be used to develop strengths and weaknesses and areas in need of development. In study topic one regarding ‘roles and responsibilities and reflecting on practice’ it says “We live and work in a time of rapid change in terms of how childhood is thought of and experienced” (Miller L., Devereux J and Callan S pg 18) When working within the early year’s sector it is important that you are able to deal with change in a positive way. During this past year while studying the E100 module I have had to change the ways in I work on many occasions partly due to my position in the setting and partly because of what I have learnt and how I have developed. A good example of this is when studying for and completing TMA 02 about attachment theory I discovered that while children develop they succeed at things more when they feel the support from their key person. After completing this TMA I decided to do some research into the work of Mary Ainsworth and John Bowlby, following my research I thought of a way in which I could improve the way in which my settings key person scheme works.
I suggested that when working as three members of staff with the maximum capacity of 24 children, we should try as close as we can to have our key children with us for example when completing a craft activity myself and my group of key children could complete the activity then leave it set up for the next practitioner and their key children to complete it and so on. This works well now in my setting as the children feel secure with their key person and have a good understanding of what they will be doing that day and when. It has had a positive reaction on the children’s behaviour as the day flows more smoothly and they have a routine in place, the children also know that if they are unsure of anything they can ask their key person as they will be the one running the activities for them. Peter Moss in reader two chapter eighteen says “The education and continuous professional development of this reflective and democratic professional involves deepening understanding of these values and learning how to give expression to them in every day practice” (Moss P 2008) This is very important and is a skill that I think I have gained throughout the E100 module. I now feel that I can reflect on my practice good or bad and develop ways in which I can improve myself and the setting I work in. A community of practice
A community of practice is a term used to describe a group/sector of people that work together at one profession but often in many different ways. It is important that when working in Early Years care that the team of professionals can work together in order to provide good quality care for all the children. A good team is able to understand that they can gain knowledge and understanding by listening to opinions and experiences of other practitioners. It is through the process of sharing information that a team will bond and work together well. In study topic eighteen it says “As a community of practice evolves, its function is to reflect collaboratively and develop shared approaches” (Craft A., Reed M., Jones C., Goodliff G and Callan C 2012 pg 153) This links into the work I completed during study topic two and while completing TMA 01 ‘The influence of policy in my early years setting’. While studying study topic two I learnt that in order for the children to develop to their full potential there must be team that works really well together to provide high quality childcare. This suggests that there must be structure such as daily routine and weekly planning sheets. From studying this module I and the team in pre-school have held meetings to devise ways in which we can improve the current planning provision. I came up with the idea of structuring the planning in a simple way to ensure that all practitioners understand what they have to do that week.
In reader two chapter nineteen developed by Alice Paige-Smith and Anna Craft it says “In becoming who we are as practitioners then, we build on layer upon layer of experience – our own and that of others generated by working with various communities” (Paige – Smith A and Craft A 2008 pg 192 (a) I feel that this statement is very much true as it is important to bring to your setting experiences and opinions you have gained from past encounters. This links again into the work I did around attachment theory and how children feel about people in the lives and things they have experienced. In reader two chapter 19 ‘Reflection and developing a community of practice’ it says “Professionals who work with young children in England are required to fulfil a range of policy based expectations within their provisions, relating to curriculum, assessment and access to learning opportunities” ( Paige-Smith A and Craft A 2008 pg 194 (b) This statement is very much true but in my opinion there is too much planning and paperwork to be done within settings. I feel that more time should be spent with the children to ensure that they are really enjoying their early learning experiences. While reading chapter 24 of reader one I came across points made by Vicky Hurst and Jenefer Joseph regarding ‘Parents and Practitioners’ they say that “Contacts with the home should be seen as part of the curriculum, and a part of the practitioner’s responsibility to provide for children’s learning in ways which suit them” (Hurst V Joseph J pg 264 1998) I fully agree with this statement and have recently held mini meetings with the parents of my key children to discover where they as the parents feel that their children are in their development progress and explain if I feel differently to their opinions or have any concerns.
Mainly I used this time to interact with the parents on a more in formal level in order to build good relationships and enable them to understand that they can approach me about any concerns they may have regarding their Childs development process. This then led the other practitioners to follow my lead and arrange meetings for themselves with their key children’s parents this made me feel very proud as they had taken my idea and used it for themselves in order to better the provision of the setting and gain better understanding of the children in their care. When working as a community of practice it is essential that all members of the team are aware of their position, roles and responsibilities. The setting should run like a well oiled machine. In reader one chapter 4 it says “Each team member needs the confidence of understanding where the pieces of the jigsaw fit” (Read M Rees M pg 50 2000 (a) This is very significant when working with the team in pre-school at my setting we are all fully aware of our responsibilities and these are regularly reviewed to ensure that they are still relevant so that the members of the team don’t become stuck in their ways and not change their thinking as children develop. Enquiry based leadership and development
The word leader or leadership basically is how one person or an organisation like a nursery setting can aid others in the accomplishment of tasks or could also mean someone who people follow or the person a team look to. A few examples of this are the room leaders of settings that manage the day to day planning and over see the running and routines. When working in childcare it is important to have leadership skills because as practitioners we are leading children into school life and ensuring that they are as fully prepared as they can be. While studying this module I have developed immensely and now understand more about the different sectors of childcare for example nannies, childminders and more information about settings. While reading chapter twenty four of reader two I learnt that leadership is really important when running an early years setting. In the chapter it says “Practitioners need support if they are to preserve in changing their practice” (Anning A Edwards A 2006 pg 236) I believe this statement to be true as a practitioner I have witnessed that if you work within a supportive network you’re more likely to succeed along your chosen career path. There are many skills involved in being a good practitioner, using study topic 18 I have picked out a few that relate myself ; Lead by example – this is very important when working with children as well as other adults, children are likely to model behaviour they see while in the setting so it is a must that I act professionally and use correct language at all times.
Admit mistakes – if I have made a mistake or even completed a task that I felt didn’t go very well, I always reflect on the situation and think of ways to develop it. We have staff observations that other practitioners complete if they see good or bad practice that we then reflect on in the next staff appraisal. Effectively transfer information about children and families – I feel I am really good at building relationships with the children their parents and other practitioners. Communication is a big part of everyday practice and being able to communicate is a valuable skill. These are just a few examples but there are many more skills that define a person as a good practitioner. In chapter four of reader one regarding ‘Working in teams in early years settings’ it says “Successful team work requires a group of individuals to share the daily working experience in a positive and proactive manner.”(Read M Rees M 2000 pg 47 (b) It is essential to be part of a good team that can tackle any situation and work together effectively. I recently started in my current setting and fitted in quickly within the team; I felt welcomed and was told my roles and responsibilities in a clear simple way. Now I’m settled in and the team feels like a little family.
I have really developed a clear understanding of what I need to do on a daily basis and often act as room leader when she is on holiday or sick etc I feel that I am very good at stepping up to the plate and taking charge. An example of this would be on a week where I was acting as the room lead a new apprentice started working with us I remembered how I felt on my first day and the things the team did to welcome me and then made sure that the apprentice felt the same way. I also ensured that the children felt safe around the new apprentice and that they all new why she was there and her name. In chapter four is a quote I feel fits well into the subject of inclusion within a team, “Each team member needs the confidence of the understanding where the pieces of the jigsaw fit.”(Read M and Rees M 2000 pg 50 (c) A team will work more effectively if everyone knows what they have to do. Planning professional leadership and development
In this last paragraph I am going to discuss my PDP (professional development plan) and how the E100 module has helped me towards reaching the goals of my PDP I will also discuss what attributes I feel make a good professional leader. Within my PDP I have stated that I would like to eventually open up my very own preschool after studying this module I have learnt a lot about what needs to be done to do this and researched more towards actually completing this goal. There are many different attributes that I feel make a good leader a few of which are; Enthusiasm – a good leader is very enthusiastic about their job and the role as a leader. Committed to excellence – a good leader is all about excellence, being second best should not be an option. Confident – a good leader should be confident within their role and encourage confidence from other team members. In study topic eighteen it says,
“Leadership – the capacity to motivate and encourage others, for example to access training or implement a new way of working and to take on responsibility.” (Craft A., Reed M., Jones C., Goodliff G and Callan C 2012 pg 168 2012) When trying to improve yourself and further your career it is important to be able to give yourself short, medium and long term goals in my professional development plan I have included that eventually I would like to open up my own pre – school setting in which I plan to have a good strong team that is professional and fully focused on the children and helping them reach their full potential. To full fill my dream I am going to have to work hard to complete the rest of my degree and use the new knowledge and understanding I gain to start my business with the childcare sector. Conclusion
In conclusion I feel that my development while studying the E100 module has come on in leaps and bounds. Through studying with The Open University I feel I have gained a lot more confidence towards working with children and their families and building strong relationships. It has helped me develop my understanding of the profession and made me want to further my knowledge and develop my career goal of owning a pre-school. I look forward to beginning the next year of study with The Open University which will be the E105 module. This module has enabled me to reflect on my practice not only the good aspects but also things that I have done not so well being able to do this has made me feel a lot more professional in my role and has given me the confidence to apply for more supervisory roles within my community. Completing this EMA has influenced me greatly towards enrolling for future courses and developing my skills. Over the summer break I intend to complete online training courses to progress my own skills and knowledge.
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