Professional Development Day: Doing what’s best for children, families, and employees

By Darby Cave, Experience Engineer

With a close-knit and highly motivated staff, Monday’s Professional Development Day at the West Union KinderCare in Portland, Ore., began with smiles, laughter and hugs. Center Director, Heidi Cusworth, talked a bit about the need for PDD and said, “It’s important for team building. These are the two days during the year we can make sure we align on expectations.”

As the team settled in to listen and learn, Heidi took them through the outline of the day. Although the main topics were Safe Practices, Enriched Learning Environments and Positive Classroom Culture, Heidi made sure her crew focused on the big picture by constantly asking: “Why are we doing this?” The answer was clear to everyone in the room, “it’s what’s right for children.”

West Union is a very full center. So full, in fact, that they recently expanded from their original space into the building across the street. The group started their work by jumping into the new CSR tool and Transition Strategies exercises, finding them incredibly useful, due to the new expansion.

Miss Allie, a floater teacher who has been with KinderCare since July, said, “talking about Transition Strategies was very helpful for my day-to-day.” She is often called into a classroom on a moment’s notice, does bus runs and helps with drop-offs and pick-ups. Coming together as a team and deciding how to keep these situations organized and as routine as possible for the kids will help things continue to run smoothly throughout the day and keep everyone safe.

Next, the team went through Enriched Learning Environments and tied it back to Family Engagement. Heidi pointed out that the more they create interesting spaces for the kids to interact in, think and express themselves, the more learning goes on. When parents see the spaces where their children spend time each day, their kid’s work up in the classroom or some of it coming home, it will only engage their families further. West Union teachers already do a wonderful job with this, but they’re all about taking good to great!

As the day wrapped up with some age-group focused teacher organization time and the Center Engagement activity, West Union felt the day went well. Mr. Brent, one of West Union’s School-aged teachers, said he and his fellow teachers, “had a lot of engaging conversations and made great connections.” His comment echoes what Heidi started the day with, that it’s a great day for team building and alignment. The team will move forward with improvement in mind while always keeping what drives them forward front of mind: doing what’s right for children.

Be sure to check out PDD posts on Yammer. Search #myEOL to see some examples of evidences of learning and share your own!

When PDD is underway, NSC kids will play! 

With our local Portland centers closed for PDD, we invited employees to bring their children with them to work for Work & Play Day at the NSC! Kids got to sit in on their parents’ meetings and enjoyed a healthy lunch together. It was a blast! Check out pictures from Work & Play Day on Flickr.


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