Continuous Professional Development is a process I have both delivered and been a part of but is it truly ‘continuous’ or a ‘one off’ day we attend and then shelve the information?
It is fair to say that CPD should be a process which allows us as educators to reflect upon our practice and the ripples of which should be visible in our practice in the classroom, but what tools can we use to allow these ripples to actually evidence impact in our classroom environments.
One such tool is Twitter. Twitter is a social media platform that is free and allows people to post comments, share pictures and links to resources to form online communities and one which I for one use regularly as an educator who has taught from Entry level to Masters. My subject specialism is Education and Early Years and it is on Twitter that I became part of an Early Years Community set up by Helin Taylor-Greenfield, Curriculum Course Leader for Early Years and Education at Leyton Sixth Form College., London.
As Early Years practitioners, we are naturally ‘nurturers’ and it is the organic formation of #EYtwittertagteam set up by Helin that offers a non-hierarchal and inclusive online platform for Early Years professionals, having generated the idea from regularly conversing with other Further Education Early Years professionals, with the term ‘tagteam’ deriving from what Helin felt was a tag team, stating how as online line community, “we signpost other professionals to articles, training, webinars, BrewEdEY events, conferences, free online training and anything else that is relevant and will be of benefit to others within the Early Years and Education field”.
#EYtwittertagteam now has a wide variety of professionals engaging in this platform from further education tutors, university lecturers, nursery managers, practitioners, childminders/homebased care providers, trainers, researchers, school leadership teams, assessors, Early Years and primary teachers and teaching assistants.
So, was this tagteam originally set up to support Continuous Professional Development? Helin says ‘yes and no,’ but one thing she does believe in is that the Early Years community are ‘Stronger Together’. Often Early Years professionals are lone workers such as childminders and at times can feel isolated, alongside this the field of Early Years Education is often not fully recognised as an academic field equivalent to A levels, despite our training which includes an intense module on child development, different psychological perspectives, international perspectives of play and safeguarding to name but a few and so having the #EYtwittertagteam community goes some way to providing resources for the Further Education lecturer and also enhances our Continuous Professional Development which requires us to be current and undertake industrial updating with the call to be ever more current in our professional practice as the landscape of Early Years and Education qualifications witnesses the introduction of T levels.
As a user of #EYtwittertagteam, this platform demonstrates a commitment from the Early Years community to share new developments at the forefront of our professional practice. Helin has a vision for this hashtag and this is to increase the number of professionals engaging with the hashtag and continuing to issue the bespoke community of practice badges which she introduced last Autumn and issues to users and contributors to the #EYtwittertagteam. This badge is a visual representation of not only the Early Years community from Further Education to Higher Education establishments but to all Early Years practitioners. The badge is a symbol of the online Twitter community of practice, the professional discussions, the agency of change, and continuous professional development.
Helin Taylor-Greenfield is Curriculum Course Leader for Early Years and Education at Leyton Sixth Form College, London.