Professional development for practitioners in early childhood settings
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Professional Development for Practitioners in Early Childhood Settings. What Works (and What Doesn’t). If you had been invited to present on this topic, what one thing have you learned that works?. Child Care plus+ The Center on Inclusion in Early Childhood

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Professional Development for Practitioners in Early Childhood Settings

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Professional Development for Practitioners in Early Childhood Settings

What Works

(and What Doesn’t)

If you had been invited to present on this topic, what one thing have you learned that works?

Child Care plus+

The Center on Inclusion in Early Childhood

The University of Montana Rural Institute on Disabilities

Sandra Morris

Susan Harper-Whalen

  • Introductions

  • The Journey

    • 1988 to 2005

  • A Menu of Options

CC+ Progressive Model of Support

  • Specialized Support

  • Core Practices and Policies

  • Developmentally Appropriate Practice

Developmentally Appropriate Practice

  • Practice based on:

    • Child growth & development knowledge and principles

    • Individualizing

    • The context of the family and community culture

    • Professional guidelines

    • State regulations

Core Practices and Policies

  • Family centered

  • Individualizing

  • Strengths-based

  • Collaboration

  • Focused observation

  • Foundational knowledge of inclusion


  • Making referrals

  • Finding resources and accepting support

  • Provider role on the team

  • Working with specialists

  • Implementing IEP/IFSP goals

CC+ Guiding Principles:Lessons Learned

  • Family-centered practices.

    Child care professionals need strategies to see and use families as a resource.

2. Inclusion Is a Natural Component of High Quality, Developmentally Appropriate Programs

-What’s in it for me?

-Limited connection between behavior and the environment or teacher behaviors

-Universal precautions, observation, and maintaining developmental information perceived as difficult

-BASICS must be established first

3.Individualizing to Meet the Strengths, Interests, and Needs of Each Child

  • Link inclusion supports with practices already used in the program

    “Now I understand – inclusion is for everyone.”

4.Inclusion Supports and Services Are Naturally Blended in Day-to-day Early Childhood Routines and Activities

  • Provider’s need help to see their role in assisting with the development of the IEP/IFSP

5.Professional Development to Support Inclusion Must Be Designed to Promote Self-Efficacy

  • Providers enjoy reviewing data (engagement, frequency counts)

  • Self-assessment promotes buy-in and supports change

  • Trainers have a tendency to see lack of change as lack of provider interest and/or ability

  • It is difficult to ask for help

Reaching Your Goals

The first conquest of Everest was not accomplished alone. Since 1953, over 1300 climbers have reached the top.

Their accomplishments were possible

only because they had help.

Sherpa guides, tenacious mountain people of Nepal, serve as guides and porters for climbing expeditions in the Himalayas.

The climbers seek the summit with the assistance of the Sherpa Guides. They form an interdependent connection.

The Guides provide

  • information

  • expertise

  • guidance

  • cautions

  • interpretations

  • support

  • encouragement

The Sherpa do not climb the mountain unless the climbers ask for assistance

They are not trying to set records or make history

The climbers know what they want to accomplish~ the Sherpa simply provide the support and guidance to reach the goal.

The climbers may modify their goals, as the conditions change, as their resources fluctuate and as they better understand the nature of the mountain.

Guides help climbers face hardships and cope with set backs. They facilitate progress and build motivation by helping the climbers notice and document progress.

When the expedition is successful, the climber will say, “I climbed that mountain”.

Trainers, mentors, and specialists are like Sherpa Guides for early care and education professionals. You call on them when you have a goal to reach.

Ask for help

Reach the Summit

6.A Collaborative, Problem-Solving Approach Is Essential

  • Collaboration requires teaching skills and providing repeated practice

7.Address “One Child at a Time” and Respond to the Context of the Early Childhood Setting

  • Frame inclusion as “one child at a time” and within context of a progressive model to make inclusion feel more doable

  • Know how to identify each child’s strengths, interests, and needs and to modify experiences accordingly to build practical competence

8.Professional Development Models Are Most Cogent When They Can Be Shaped to Meet Unique Community Needs and State Training Systems

  • Offer everything for “credit”

  • “Ready” training materials are valued/customizing is a 2nd step

  • Promote the embedding of inclusion principles, knowledge, and practices

9.Assess Learning Needs, UseEffective Adult Learning Practices, Promote Lifelong Learning, andProvide Follow-up Assistance

  • ADA and person first language training is still needed

  • USE training feedback to enhance training practice

  • Providers know about many community resources but feel these resources are not easy to access

  • Inclusion brings up many emotional responses for providers – multiple and private opportunities to reflect may enhance attitude shifts

  • Family stories are powerful in promoting positive attitudes

  • Quotes and ongoing reflection also support attitude change

10.Model Processes, Strategies, and Techniques That Students/participants Are Expected to Use in Their Practice.

  • Relationship is everything

  • Mistakes are part of the learning process

  • Value each participant as being somewhere on the inclusion continuum

Thank you

For our

Lessons learned

If every family

had a child with disabilities,

there would be

no controversy

surrounding inclusion.

An accommodation

may not be considered major,

but it may

make a major difference.

To know my own fears

in regards to

accepting a child with a disability

cannot begin to measure up

to the fear a parent has


whether their child will be accepted

or not.

Sandra Morris

[email protected]

Susan Harper-Whalen

[email protected]

634 Eddy Avenue

The University of Montana, Child Care plus+

Missoula, MT 59812-6696


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