professional development functions and components blog header

The four functions and three core components of professional development and how you can make sure they are part of your center

Did you know that 45% of child outcomes are influenced by the learning environment which educators create? 

Despite research promoting the importance of effective design and delivery of quality professional development (PD), it’s often disconnected from real-world practice or unsupported by research and theory. It’s sometimes based on a “train-and-hope” mentality – not set up to offer continuous learning.

Professional development serves four, often overlapping, functions.

  • Support the continual success of educators
  • Improve child outcomes
  • Improve the functions of the center
  • Support the center community (staff, children, families)

When thinking about professional development, I see it as a tool in my toolbox. We need various tools to stay relevant because the field is constantly changing and evolving. Which increases the need for continuous learning. Professional development involves three core components. 

The three core components of professional development are: 

  •  Who – the learner (ECEs/directors) and the supporter (PD providers)
  •  What – the content
  •  How – the teaching and learning experiences

Who: the learner and the supporter

These are our learners, childcare providers, and early childhood educators. These are individuals supporting children’s learning and development from birth to school-age. As well as individuals who are managing and operating childcare spaces such as owners and directors. 

Then we have the support. These are individuals or companies who deliver learning experiences and assessments on the relevant subject matter. 

What: the content

These are content standards and domains of learning identified by national organizations such as: 

  •   National Association for the Education of Young Children – NAEYC
  •   International Accreditors of Continuing Education and Training – IACET
  •   Council for Professional Recognition – CDA

These serve as benchmarks for teacher preparation and national standards that are sector, state, or province-specific. Beyond learning new knowledge and skills, they provide the tools and resources for implementing knowledge and pedagogy. This includes practices that benefit young children’s development and learning based on the best available research.

How: the teaching and learning experience

Some examples of these are: 

  • Research-based practices that support adult learning
  • Using multiple learning modalities (audio, visual, text)
  • Convenient on-demand training (for example, HiMama Academy!) 

How you can implement these professional development practices in your center

Effective professional development needs to identify common issues and themes related to child development, learning, and care. It should be theory and research-based and it needs to apply to the everyday setting. The content has to be accessible, consistent, and engaging and it should take into consideration the learners’ previous experiences and learning styles.

Here are some ways you can make Professional Development part of your center:

  • Make it frequently and easily accessible
    • Ongoing professional development for educators and administrators leads to increased child outcomes
    • Research states that centers reap greater benefits in terms of child outcomes when they invest in Professional Development 
  •  Foster collaboration and community
    • Where there is shared responsibility between administrators and educators, positive change in a center is more likely to be sustained
  • PD should be achieved as a group and incorporated into daily practices
    • Directors should establish clear priorities and goals that can be achieved through professional learning

Though many factors contribute to a center’s success, leadership is at the core. Directors and center owners are in a critical position to lead and empower their staff to develop and exercise leadership and share in the responsibility to improve the centers quality! 

To learn more about early childhood education and the many influences that make the field what it is today, check out our post on the history of early childhood education

Want to learn more about important topics in early education such as educator burnout and learning through play? Sign up for the next webinar below, it is FREE! Even if you can’t join live, you will be emailed the recording and slides just for registering!