Everything’s connected……or at least it should be!

Synapse Blog – Greetings and Happy Holidays! 
For my December Synapse Blog post, I decided to share this short article, and why I love the concept of SYNAPSES. I chose the name “Synapse” for the consulting and training work that I do because to me, nothing is more important than connections, at every level. I’m making it my mission to help early education teachers (and leaders) regain a sense of fulfillment and passion to their work, through connecting everything they do to a bigger purpose. This excellent Learning Forward article emphasizes the importance of planning professional learning experiences that are purposeful, meaningful, and part of a cohesive “big picture” shared by everyone. In my own work with early childhood public pre-k programs, I continually stress the importance of leadership involving teachers in the co-creation of this big picture, for everyone’s investment in quality and ongoing improvements. “School systems that prioritize COHERENCE are more likely to achieve their goals for students” (Hirsch and Crow). Following the message of Hirsch and Crow’s book “Becoming a Learning Team: A Guide to a Teacher-Led Cycle of Continuous Improvement, (Learning Forward, 2017) I will ask my early childhood leaders: “What would an ‘aligned learning system’ look like in your school? What does it mean to you, to prioritize coherence?” Broken down further, leaders and teachers should ask, “How does my own learning connect, at this moment in time, to my school’s common vision for instruction, to my coworker’s learning, and to that of my students?” We can liken it to the value of making learning objectives clear to students. When they know not only “what” they’re supposed to be learning, but “why,” it increases their engagement, focus, and on-task behaviors–making the likelihood of new learning and understanding very high. When teachers understand the “what,” and more importantly the “why” of their professional learning activities, we greatly increase their buy-in, focus, willing and engaged participation, and ultimately their ability to learn and grow as teachers. If we truly want teachers to be “present” and “intentional” in all that they do, then we should really dig into this idea of coherent systems, and fully embrace the many connections it engenders.

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