By Joanne Tapley on 16 Jun, 2024

In our practices in early childhood education at Ambrose Early Years and Education, it’s often the seemingly simple yet profound insights that spark transformation. What may appear evident to some might be a revelation to others, underscoring the importance of sharing knowledge and experiences within the community and beyond.

The importance of sharing in leadership meetings

At the start of our early years education leadership meetings, which include directors and support team members, there is a ritual of sharing. 

Each participant shares a ‘glow’— something they or their team are proud of within their early learning service. This is followed by a ‘grow’— an area they or their team wish to explore further or develop, whether due to interest or in response to a current challenge.

I cannot remember where I first encountered this ritual, but a Google search reveals it is a common feedback strategy teachers use to direct student learning and inquiry. This recollection reminds me why I found it appealing—it fosters learning and inquiry and offers numerous other benefits. 

Supporting inquiry and collaborative leadership

In early learning services, we work to support children’s growth and development, supporting their inquiries and curiosities. The teacher’s role is not to provide direct answers to children’s inquiries and wonderings, but to scaffold their wonderings by providing safe environments to extend their interests and guide their discoveries about the world around them. This same investigative process should be encouraged and replicated with teachers and leaders in early childhood as well. This practice supports collaborative leadership, which is a key principle in the Early Years Learning Framework V2.0. 

Children’s learning, development and wellbeing is optimised when educators communicate and share ideas and views about improving practice. Collaborative leadership and teamwork support a culture of peer mentoring and shared learning where all team members contribute to each other’s professional learning and growth for high quality programs for children in early childhood settings.

(AGDE, 2022. p19)

Building a positive and safe culture

The glows and grows ritual has provided insights into what is happening for individuals in their services. It has also been helpful to identify shared challenges across services and to provide support, sometimes just through a listening ear and a safe space, building a sense of belonging within the team. Helping to create psychologically safe environments where ideas can be shared and collective learning occurs supports growth and change. Pelo & Carter (2018) in their book “From teaching to thinking: A pedagogy for reimagining our work” highlight this imperative to create a culture of inquiry, not only for children, but for teachers as well.

We believe that educators – like children – have a vast capacity for deep dives of mind, heart and spirit...their work is challenging and exhilarating, and demands their full intellectual and emotional attention. Educators deserve – and are sustained by professional learning that strengthens their development as thinkers, researchers, innovators and constructors of knowledge.

(Pelo & Carter, 2018)

Our early years education leadership meetings provide opportunities to build communities of practice, helping to build a positive, psychologically safe learning culture.

The grows and glows sharing ritual has inspired further exploration across our services in various areas, including the establishment of a wellbeing network group, the development and exploration of practices to support emotional regulation for both children and teachers, and the sharing of settling-in strategies to foster relationships with families.

Too often, meetings can be overwhelming and filled with information, leaving little opportunity for individual sharing. Meetings should also foster a positive team culture where experiences are shared, and discussions encourage creative thinking to overcome challenges and plan for innovative solutions. This creates a positive environment for people to flourish, supporting quality outcomes for children. This practice aligns with the National Quality Standards, specifically standard 4.2 on Professionalism, as outlined in the Guide to the National Quality Framework.

Creating a safe environment for sharing experiences, including challenges faced, helps build a positive culture where ideas can be generated to overcome obstacles. This also allows for the sharing of ideas across settings to support positive outcomes. What is obvious to you may be amazing to others. Similarly, challenges others are facing might be ones you have already overcome, allowing you to provide valuable insights.


About Joanne

Jo Tapley is Senior Manager Early Years Education, Catholic Diocese of Parramatta Services Limited, overseeing the operations for Ambrose Early learning services. Jo has worked in children’s services for over 25 years and is passionate about early childhood advocacy and leadership practices, sharing with the wider community how children’s experiences in their early years builds the foundation for future learning dispositions, growth and development.

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