Monday, 30 July 2018 06:28

Professional Development July Report

Once again this month has been jam packed with wonderful professional development opportunities for our staff, including our Centre Closure Day. It is so great that we are able to share our new knowledge and experiences with the MICCC children and families.

‘Practice is shaped by meaningful engagement with families and/or community’ - Twilight session

Presenter:  Steven Cameron / Ann Rieger

MICCC staff:  Jo, Ollie, Sammy & Tatum

With a unique view into the relationships and partnerships Unley Kindergarten has formed with their Community over many many years we could draw lots of great connections to the work we are doing here at MICCC. We engaged in self reflection processes about our own engagement with families and community, how we view inclusion and welcome others.

‘Supporting Students With Mental Health Difficulties’

Presenter:  Andrea Farlie - INCLUSION EXPO

MICCC staff:  Ollie & Sammy

Listening to a psychologist talk about mental health always opens our minds to new perspectives. Did you know that 1 in 7 children aged 4-17 needs mental health support, with 1 in 14 experiencing some for of anxiety? What was interesting was the realisation that not all of the children that have mental health problems are seeking help so our practices need to support all children and equip them with strategies for life. It is important that people do not label or diagnose children, instead it is our job to react and respond to the needs of each individual. All educators and families need to model positive self-talk and we have some breathing strategies to share too.

Feather breathing: Where you hold a feather (or tissue) in the air, breathing in as you reach the feather as high as you can.... Then release your breath as you release the feather, breathing out as it slowly floats to the ground.

Bubble breathing: Taking a deep breath in to be able to blow lots bubbles out of a bubble blower.

Both of these techniques will eventually be able to be used without a feather or bubble blower, setting children up with breathing strategies for life to help regulate themselves and become more resilient.

‘Resilience and Wellbeing Toolbox’

Presenter:  Madhavi Nawana Parker - INCLUSION EXPO

MICCC staff:  Ollie & Melina

This training identified straight away the influence that digital technology is having on child resilience levels. Boredom is vital for developing for self-regulation, resilience and inner-peace. The more you do for children the more they become a being of learned helplessness unable to come out of states of difficulty. At MICCC we view all children as capable and competent from birth and try to instil that image of the child in all of our families. Role modelling language of a growth mindset is important for children to witness. That continual focus of acknowledging and encouraging the learning processes a child is engaging in is so important, people need to forget praise because the product and overall achievement is not important. We were encouraged to remind parents that devices should never be used to calm or sedate children and to leave them at home so children can learn to push past boredom and turn it into a creative moment. 

Here are some positive phrases to share with the children in your life:

It’s so good to see you... 

I love spending time with you.... 

I’m glad you’re in this family/group/Room... 

You’re going to great in your life, I just know it... 

You have such a kind heart.

‘Making Inclusion Happen in an Early Childhood Program’

Presenter:  Kate Walker & Kristina Brown - INCLUSION EXPO

MICCC staff:  Claire & Bianca

At MICCC we have already developed some great inclusion practices so it is nice to get different perspectives and fresh inspiration from other centres. Practices that are developed to support individual children can be used for all children, for example, visuals cues can be used for all children so that inclusion is daily life. We need to respect the ways all individuals learn and utilise our inclusion toolboxes for all children in every room.

‘Executive Functioning’

Presenter:  Helen Kowalenko

MICCC staff:  Sarah, Jo & Sammy

Executive functioning consists of the cognitive processes that help you to develop life skills to plan, organise, compartmentalise and focus attention. Our teaching needs to ensure that children are further developing their executive functioning skills as these skills are more predictive of future life success than actual IQ.

‘Little Scientists - Optics’

Presenter:  Jess - Gowrie SA

MICCC staff:  Yo & Claire

Children are born curious and through inquiry, questioning and projects they are provided endless opportunities to explore their own ideas of the world around them. It is important for educators to have an understanding of each child’s level of prior knowledge to be able to support and challenge them.

‘Reggio Session For MICCC Families’

Presenter:  Marilyn Hayward - The Nest, Alberton

MICCC staff:  Claire, Jo, Sarah, Rochelle, Shelly, Bianca, Tatum, Kerys, Ollie & Melina

We are all so grateful to Marilyn for sharing her insights and perspectives with us, she left us with many thought provoking questions about the environment being used as the third teacher. We were able to share our ideas of ‘the image of the child’ and discuss the fragmentation that can exist in a child’s day/week/life as the try to make sense of all the different expectations from different settings and people. It was a great opportunity for parents to have a better understanding of the Reggio Emilia philosophy and be able to ask specific questions. It was also fantastic for educators to come to the realisation that we are influenced more by Reggio than we first thought and it is clear that we view children as capable and competent in all rooms.

‘Local Native Plant Talk’

Presenter: Frank Wanganeen

MICCC staff: Yo

It was interesting to hear about the movements of the Kaurna People from costal life in Summer to the Mt Lofty Hills in winter to survive the landscape. Opened up opportunities it discuss our own natural landscapes with the children.

CLOSURE DAY

‘Kids Matter Framework’

Presenter:  Cecelia - Gowrie SA

MICCC staff:  Whole Centre Staff Team

We took part in an online workshop with our Kids Matter consultant to discuss the fact that everyone has mental health, just like we all have physical health and there is a framework available to support us. This Framework helps us to explore the ways we think about mental health, accept responsibility and embed high quality mental health practices in everything we do. We identified ways to support connections through relationships, community and inclusion and discussed how to keep MICCC a place of safety that supports child strengths, cultural safety and self-care. The Kids Matter Framework challenges us to identify risk factors and protective factors for all individuals so we can create a better sense of community, develop children’s individual social/emotional skills, work in partnership with families and careers and provide more consistent support for children that are experiencing mental health difficulties. Everyone can take small steps by simply using the words ‘mental health’ a bit more often and we would love to seek more perspectives from our children and families about what they think mental health is and how they rate and care for their own mental health. A definite take away was that if your own mental health is not optimal then you are not the greatest support for others, look after yourself and be aware of the others around you. We hope to begin implementing more of the Kids Matter Framework in our practices and documentation soon.

‘Infant Mental Health’

Presenter:  Cecelia - Gowrie SA

MICCC staff:  Whole Centre Staff Team

Carrying on from the morning session we moved more into identifying specific risk and protective factors we see at MICCC. We discussed our own language use and the stigma associated its certain vocabulary, if we can continue to role model the best language practices in relation to mental health, our children and families will benefit greatly. The idea that genes and experience set up the neurons that become the operating systems of our brain, really highlights the importance of the early years of childhood and how important it is for us to recognise, support and maintain mental health for all. We came away with some great resources to share with our families: the website https://www.zerotothree.org/    and the you tube link https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=L41k2p-YRCs&feature=youtu.be

‘Adventure Rooms’

Goal:  Team building escape activities

What an awesome way to finish off a closure day by seeing your colleagues shines with strengths you didn’t know they had. We worked together in teams, some in the dark and some even hand cuffed to problem solve and investigate ideas. The aim was to find clues to release keys and more clues, then eventually escape from each room in under 30 minutes. Listening to each other was key, respecting each other’s ideas was essential and trusting in each other was a must. We were all sent in on equal ground with no idea of what to expect and that made us all vulnerable, but we all came out knowing a little bit more about each other, escape or not.

 

OLLIE LAUDER - MICCC EDUCATIONAL LEADER

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