By: Diane Kashin, Ed.D, RECE. and Cindy Green, BSc, RECE. This is the first of a series of blogs written about a leadership research project that we are working on with Upper Canada Child Care Centres. It has been many years since we first connected with Upper Canada Child Care in various capacities. Most recently and over the past two years, we have facilitated an eight week series Our Pedagogical Journey, influenced by How Does Learning Happen? Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years (2014) with approximately 380 educators working within this agency.
In addition to the series, we were involved in the Leadership Pilot Project throughout September and October of 2017. The intention of the project was to build capacity and growth within the leadership team, benefiting educators from Upper Canada Child Care in deepening their understanding of how learning happens. With increased pedagogical knowledge, the hope is that these educators would be agents of change and proponents of continuous improvement for the agency. Fifty educators from two Pilot Regions were chosen to participate in this professional learning experience and two Pilot Sites were the locations for the onsite visits and live coaching opportunities. Each Pilot Site was visited two times by the consultants and the participants for a total of 4 hours each.
Additionally, educators (20-25) from each Pilot Region attended two workshops, to reflect on our observations and experiences, collaborating on how to best transfer our thinking and theories to practice.
The Leadership Project Framework at a Glance:
A Facebook page, UCCC Leadership Pilot was developed for the participants involved in this project to deepen one’s awareness of research and trending topics in early learning and for engaging in ongoing collaborative discourse, throughout and beyond the project.
The culmination of the project will be published in a PLAYBOOK, a manual for educators to use as a reference for pedagogical support and leadership. All participants involved in this project will have opportunity for input into its creation and content, addressing the current pedagogical directions of the province of Ontario.
We are particularly excited to see how the areas for growth, as identified by the participants, and ourselves will impact change within the Pilot Sites as well as throughout all the centres that were engaged in this project. The six areas for growth are; Indoor Environment, Outdoor Environment, Interactions, Schedule, Curriculum and Pedagogical Documentation.
We look forward to sharing more posts as the project unfolds and the PLAYBOOK develops. The theoretical underpinning of our work is the concept of distributed leadership. Some of the research participants are in leadership roles as supervisors of centres and others supervise hubs that include centres and satellite school age programs. Others are assistant supervisors. Some are working directly with children. All are registered early childhood educators (RECEs) with the College of Early Childhood Education here in Ontario. The ideas of distributed leadership is evolving with seminal work being done in Finland . We recognize that there is a need for formal leadership within this organization. However, to build capacity, a team of pedagogical leaders will feel empowered to empower others.
Another component that we are excited about involves the participants creating and facilitating a workshop or team meeting for their colleagues, building leadership capacity already inherent within the organization. The descriptors below were associated with The Ideal Team in one of the reflective exercises during a workshop.
We are moving forward…. and, THIS is how learning happens!
We invite you to share your stories of pedagogical leadership/distributed leadership in your contexts. Stay tuned for more in this blog series on leadership!