By Phyllis Lucas, Director of Professional Practice:
Sometimes an idea comes to me while I’m driving. Sometimes it’s something a director, teacher, or coach says. And other times it’s an article I read from Zero to Three, or Child Care Exchange. And sometimes it’s a three o’clock in the morning thought. Then the work begins, the work of developing a training for early childhood professionals that is well researched, that meets adult learning principles, that is meaningful and applicable to a classroom. In my many years in the field I have found that early childhood professionals generally love theory, we want to know how the brain develops, you want to understand why a teaching practice is effective, AND we want ideas and strategies that we can bring back and begin to connect into our curriculum and planned activities.
Everyone who develops trainings does some of the same things for preparation. We read a lot. We make a lot of notes. Some of us write outlines; I’m one of those “someones”. We each develop our own style for preparation for the development of the training.
Before going on, I would like to tell you how I got into the training development world. Prior to working for Qualistar (and it’s been over ten years now), I ran a very large early care and education program. My program had 19 classrooms, eight of which were infants and toddlers. I am proud to say that the infant/toddler program always scored high on Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale. I had super staff who were dedicated to the babies and families. They were open and receptive to their own professional development. I worked for a large non-profit umbrella agency, which every year sponsored and coordinated an all-day training. We held it at the local community college, and programs throughout the county closed for that day to send their staff. Now probably because my infant-toddler program was so good, it was assumed that I could develop good training for infant/toddler teachers– an assumption that at the time I found scary and intimidating. I was asked to develop a training for infant/toddler teachers on the promotion of language. So, in keeping with how I do things, I obsessed, I read everything in sight, I spoke with our fine infant/toddler teachers, I observed in their classrooms. I made lots of notes, and finally an outline. In those days, I had not yet taken any adult learning principles coursework. I had not yet taken any training design coursework. So, I did the best I could and developed a 2.5 hour training titled, Talk, Talk, Talk. Well, it was a success. I made sure that I acknowledged the expertise and knowledge in the room. I knew the many challenges and rewards of working with very young children. I presented the current thinking and research. And, I offered some practical strategies.
That was my first excursion into training development, and I was lucky I got so much right. Since then I have taken a number of trainings on adult learning principles. I have taken training design. And, since then I have developed a large menu of trainings for Qualistar. I continue to read all that I can on best and most promising practice, on effective teaching strategies, on current research and brain development. I continue to listen to coaches, teachers, and directors. Our training evaluations ask, “what else?” What other trainings would you like to see developed? What would help you in your teaching practice? We welcome your input. You are in the programs and classrooms, and you know what you need to provide meaningful and quality experiences for your children and families.
For me, the wonderful thing about being paid to develop training is that I am continuously learning. I learn from the books and articles I read, and I learn from you as you share your wisdom. Please visit our training page on our website. See what is there, and let us know what else you would like to see.