I was drawn to the process and culture of CQI as a way to get better at doing things in classrooms/programs. It was very similar to how I worked with children and their families, first as a teacher and later as a program director. As teachers, we got to know our children – who they were, what they knew, what they understood, and what they were interested in. This information accumulated over time as our children grew and developed, continually guiding our pedagogy. As program directors, we reflected as a staff on our practices, trying to focus on what we did well as a program, what best supported teachers, children, and families. It was truly a continuous process.
What I am continuing to learn about…
- Them and us- still. The provider and teacher voices are a whisper in the CQI process today. We need to elevate their voice levels to capture what they know — about development of young children, who they are, what they want to learn; we need to understand what is making a difference for our children. Teachers and Directors have important knowledge essential to sustaining high quality environments for young children and their families. According to Edward Demining’s (Father of CQI): “Quality is the responsibility of the person operating in a process”- in this case, teachers supporting the learning of young children.
- A never-ending story. We must all be committed to change, and ready to incorporate these changes into our daily work with children. Continuous improvement is grounded in the change process – in learning and acting on ideas, feelings or actions, at times, and all at once. Children do this every day. Adults have the same experiences in their own learning and development. And coaches, making changes to practices, need to understand how to manage change first for themselves. Change is highly personal and comes from a place where one is motivated, intentional, and able to make something that works, keep working.
- DAP. In working with teachers, directors, coaches, and administrators, I first needed to learn about them as a group in order to provide focused training and support. My approach was similar to the five guidelines of DAP. First, get to know the learner. Using surveys, I learned about their knowledge of child development, pedagogy, adult learning, and coaching. I learned too, about the quality standards implemented, what they were interested in, and what they wanted to learn more about. Each group then studied the results of their data responses and determined what professional learning they wanted to focus on. We learned together and from each other.
So those are three take-aways. And finally, I’d offer this:
If the CQI process is truly a focus of support for providers and teachers, then agencies and administrators – indeed, all stakeholders – need to do the same in their own work. Let’s all walk that walk!