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How has the Critical Competencies training impacted your work?

Lauren Bond facilitating a Critical Competencies training

Early childhood consultant and trainer, Lauren Bond, recalls how the Critical Competencies training has helped her practice and others.

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I first took advantage of the Critical Competencies Training-of-Trainers in 2018. My previous professional development experiences weren’t always focused on infants and toddlers, and the Critical Competencies filled that gap. It helped me understand infants’ and toddlers’ curiosity, how they strive for relationships, and ways of better supporting them in early childhood settings. The training brought me so much insight into infant and toddler practices.

I love the way that reflection is embedded in the curriculum — reflective questions that specifically connect to what was inspiring, what was challenging, and what biases or assumptions might need more exploration. Building a practice of reflection and being okay critiquing yourself, rather than ruminating on what didn’t go according to plan, is critical for planning for future learning, future lessons, and support for individual children or for a class. Through reflection, you learn something about yourself or you learn important things about the individuals and group with which you work.
I find the Critical Competencies curriculum to be very practicable and applicable. The curriculum brings a level of self-awareness to the educator, allowing them to examine how they operate and how they flow in their teaching practices. Though there are a lot of competencies, I find that teachers can look at the skill statements and say, “I’m already doing this, this, and this.” They start by feeling good about all the things they are doing well. Then, when they look at the other competencies, they see them as something that they are capable of doing.

How have you seen the curriculum help other educators who have taken the course?​

I thoroughly enjoy working with providers and teachers while facilitating this training curriculum. I find the final session to be particularly rewarding. In the finale, the providers do a presentation to the group to show their growth. One provider made a comic strip of her experience in the classroom with the children. Others have made scrapbooks. During the pandemic, one teacher spoke about how the Critical Competencies had impacted her as a parent in addition to her work with children in her program. As a result of participating in the training during the pandemic, she found that she was giving more time and attention to her own young children at home.

The curriculum helps early childhood educators use evidence-based practices to bring more intentionality and more thoughtful connections to support children’s social emotional, cognitive, and language development.

I think that the Critical Competencies training benefits everyone — new and seasoned providers alike. A few people have said that while the training was a refresher, having the opportunity to dive into the curriculum helped them identify practices that had waned over time. The experience re-energized their efforts to support the whole child, setting children up with a foundation for learning to support them into preschool and beyond.
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