I often support program leaders with their individual and organizational professional development tracking during my workday. In one particular instance, I assisted the Education Director of a relatively large Head Start program. With roughly 35 classrooms, they frequently offered many in-service trainings for their staff. Imagine how overwhelmed this director felt as she contemplated the various ways of documenting such trainings within The Aspire Registry; the sheer amount of time and energy needed to accomplish the task seemed daunting. Now imagine how liberated this director must’ve felt when I told her there was actually a more beneficial and easier way to use The Aspire Registry through Training Approval.
In my previous blogs, I’ve emphasized the importance of high-quality trainings for the professional growth of educators, how early childhood and school-age educators can locate them, and the significant impact of these opportunities on the entire field. In this edition, let’s talk about professional development from the vantage point of trainers and training organizations.
We know that high-quality professional development builds educators’ capacity to provide engaging and meaningful interactions that will promote learning among children. This process must be both fluid and sustainable. As a trainer, I used to think that if I did my job well, participants would be able to apply what they’d learned almost instantaneously. In light of what I know now, I recognize that it’s not that simple. In reality, high-quality professional development – the kind that elevates program practice – requires time and relationship-based support. Effective support includes mentorship, learning communities, training series, and college-level courses. These types of professional development provide robust learning opportunities which allow for reflection and inquiry – key elements to change in practice. To maximize this, internal or external trainers must draw from their knowledge and experience while creating just the right amount of engagement to keep the training interesting.
Now, before you think this doesn’t apply to you or feel that you don’t have any trainers on staff, please allow me to offer a different perspective. Let’s suppose you are a Director, Assistant Director, or Head Start teacher who provides in-service professional development to staff. In that case, you’re already familiar with your staff’s strengths and the opportunities available to foster their growth. You’re probably already coaching and guiding them toward best practices to better serve your community. By our definition, you’re a trainer. You should register as such and be sure to document all of those in-service professional development events within The Aspire Registry. If you’ve already done all of that, excellent job!
There’s a tremendous benefit to training your staff and acknowledging it in The Aspire Registry, but this also comes with immense responsibility. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC) position statement on Developmentally Appropriate Practice, “…educators have a professional responsibility to be life-long learners who are able to foster life-long learning in children; in this, they must keep abreast of research developments, while also learning continuously from families and communities they serve.” Being a life-long learner also means seeking professional development experiences to expand one’s knowledge and skills. One could argue that the same applies to trainers. As a trainer, you cannot support early childhood and school-age professionals in their work if you do not practice the same disciplined approach to learning yourself. You’ll need to keep up with the latest trends, actively participate in prominent organizations like NAEYC, and partake in various training opportunities to obtain and maintain professional credentials. This will improve your practice as a professional and set you apart from others.
For seasoned trainers, one option to consider is the Training and Technical Assistance Program (T-TAP) credential. The T-TAP provides an opportunity to showcase yourself as a professional and allows you to reflect on your practice. For many T-TAP credentialed trainers, the bonus of being eligible to accept payment for training via the state’s Educational Incentive Program scholarship is a significant value for financially strapped programs. Another plus is that The Aspire Registry promotes trainings facilitated by T-TAP credentialed trainers in the PD Finder as Quality Assured trainings that members can register and pay for directly. In essence, the Training Approval process is straightforward, and we are here to help. Please check out our help center articles and instruction guides. Our friendly staff is also available to provide support.
So, you may be wondering what happened with the Head Start director I mentioned at the beginning of this blog. Well, I did what any trainer would do! I provided training on how to register as a trainer and enter professional development sessions into The Aspire Registry. I am proud to report that this Head Start program ultimately became an approved Training organization in The Aspire Registry. Now, all of their trainers create Aspire profiles and can submit their in-service trainings into our system for regulatory training credit. What’s more, every time one of their programs holds an in-service training, their trainers can upload sign-in sheets and update the attendance portal for participants. Through this process, attending staff members and directors can breathe a collective sigh of relief because now training credits will automatically appear on individual profiles - one less thing for teachers and program leaders to do.
All that said, what’s the moral of the story? Whether you consider yourself a seasoned trainer or provide in-service sessions every so often, it’s imperative to register as a trainer and submit your events into The Aspire Registry. What’s more, when your training events are complete, do yourself and your staff a favor by uploading sign-in sheets and updating the rosters. By doing so, trainings automatically appear on staff profiles, saving everyone time to do what they do best: provide nurturing, supportive high-quality educational experiences for the youngest among us. Now that is what I like to call a Win/Win.
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