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Nursery Managers Show


18 Jun 2024

Guest blog: Mirror, mirror on the wall – How do I promote reflective growth for all?

Guest blog: Mirror, mirror on the wall – How do I promote reflective growth for all?
Charlotte Armitage, early years sector lead at Connect2Care, shares some practical tips for nursery managers to support reflective growth and professional development.

Early years is an ever-changing sector. Legislation, guidance, theoretical perspectives and views are constantly changing. A practitioner needs to be able to evolve with these changes. The easiest way to do this is through reflection and professional development.

Professional development and reflection should go hand in hand. Reflecting on practice can help to identify knowledge gaps, which can then be supported by Continuing professional development (CPD).

Professional development gives the opportunity to gain new knowledge and implement this into practice, and can be based on previous reflections. Continuing professional development (CPD) ensures that you are staying up to date with new knowledge, but also filling any gaps identified. Reflection is also important to use on a daily basis, to ensure you are providing the best possible support for children.

As a nursery manager, fostering reflective growth comes through encouraging staff to consistently reflect on their practices, learn from their experiences and apply these lessons moving forward. This leads to a more thoughtful, adaptive and competent team, overall benefitting the children through providing a more responsive and enriched learning environment.

Practical techniques for managers to support reflective growth

Create a reflective culture

Lead by example: Be active in demonstrating your own reflective behaviour, through sharing your own reflective thoughts with others.

Open dialogue: Foster an environment that encourages staff to share their own thoughts, feelings and opinions in the setting.

Regular team meetings

Holding regular meetings with the whole team is effective in giving practitioners time and opportunity to reflect on recent activities, discuss what went well and identify areas of improvement.

Professional development plans

Work with each staff member to create professional development plans, focusing on their individual goals. This will open discussions around training opportunities to further encourage reflective growth.

Reflective journals

Encourage staff to keep reflective journals, providing them with reflective prompts to help guide this. These can be used for staff to reflect on their experiences, challenges and successes. They will also be beneficial in supervisions/appraisals.

Peer observations and feedback

Observation: Organise peer observation sessions where staff can observe each other’s practices and provide constructive feedback.

Feedback: Train staff on giving and receiving feedback in a way that is supportive and growth-oriented.

Mentorship and coaching

Mentorship programmes: Pair less experienced staff with more experienced mentors who can provide guidance and support.

Coaching sessions: Offer coaching sessions focused on reflective practices and personal development.

Encourage collaboration and sharing

Learning communities: Create learning communities or study groups where staff can share knowledge, experiences and reflective practices.

Collaborative projects: Encourage staff to work on projects together, promoting a reflective approach to teamwork and problem-solving.

Recognition and celebration

Celebrate growth: Acknowledge and celebrate individual and team achievements and growth, resulting from reflective practices.

There will potentially be barriers to reflective growth. These could be time constraints, lack of support, fear of criticism or inadequate resources. It is important to look at these possible challenges you may face and address how you can overcome them. For example, allocating set time for reflections, providing a safe space for reflection, and educating practitioners on the importance of being a reflective practitioner will help.

As a leader, encouraging staff to engage with further learning is essential in this process. Allowing staff to choose their own learning path, with guidance, enables them to take ownership of their knowledge and feel empowered to apply this into their practice. Providing the opportunity to learn continually, and highlighting the importance of this, is a leader's role and can be done through actively searching for and sharing new research, resources and information with practitioners and keeping up to date with sector developments. Partnerships with training providers can ensure this is done effectively.

Reflective growth can improve professional development by fostering self-awareness, enhancing problem-solving skills and adaptability. Through regular self-evaluation, staff will gain insights into their strengths and areas for improvement, leading to better practice and increased confidence. This process will help boost job satisfaction and motivation, and ultimately cultivates a more skilled, responsive and effective workforce, with huge benefits for all children.





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