Sitting Around the Campfire
Here you are sitting around the campfire with good friends after an exhausting day….just staring at the flickering flame. Each person sitting around this circle is lost in his or her own thoughts, drifting miles away. Then someone pulls out a big log, pokes the embers, blows on them, strategically places the log in the best spot and the fire takes off with intense ferocity. This causes folks to sit up straighter and the conversation takes on new energy. Someone brings out marshmallows and roasting sticks. Another retrieves some graham crackers and chocolate bars. The change in mood is astounding and the “round-the-fire” camaraderie is clearly infectious! Ahhh….this is good!
Early Intervention Staff Meetings – The Little Fire
Early Intervention staff meetings (or routine training sessions) are often the first time an early interventionist has time to sit down in several days. It is not unusual to see blank stares and dazed looks. Sitting around this “little fire” with one person spewing information doesn’t generate much enthusiasm. Despite a well-planned agenda and efforts to invoke staff input, the energy remains low. It is simply a matter of taking care of business. There is likely a longing for more practical relevant real life early intervention strategies….things that really work. What if they could hear about ideas from other early interventionists around the country and then be asked to offer their own ideas to help colleagues as they work with families? What if one person’s ideas generated another’s contribution?
Throw on a Blog-Log
Some wise person around that circle selected the perfect blog -log from the VEIPD Blog and placed it on the fire. With a few pre-planned pokes and blows the blog-log lit up the conversation. It stimulated more energy and the fire-watchers became contributing and engaged participants. Stories were shared, ideas were generated, comments were made…..all to benefit the families supported in early intervention. Ahhh…..this is good!
What Does This Look Like?
Toward the end of a recent routine staff meeting we pulled out the “Don’t Forget the Fathers” blog written by Dana. We took 3-4 minutes to read it quietly and ponder the questions Dana posed. Once the early interventionists were asked an initial open-ended question their ideas and suggestions popped like popcorn on a hot griddle. The synergy was palpable and the enthusiasm was contagious. Suggestions and ideas were freely shared and many of the staff members took written notes (more notes were feverishly taken during that 10 minute discussion than the entire previous 2 hours). This blog-log happens at least once each month, with a strategic pre-planned selection of a topic that supports our overall vision. It is our experience that home visitors always bring out a broad array of opinions and helpful ideas. This acknowledges the value of their contributions and opens the door to learning more from each other. It also helps them know THEIR ideas will be shared with others around the nation on the VEIPD Strategies for Success Blog.
Blog-Logs as Part of Intentional Professional Development
What effect would you see if you helped spice up a staff meeting or training session with a blog-log discussion?
What is your favorite strategy for using the VEIPD Strategies for Success blog?
How do you support early intervention colleagues in making staff meetings or training sessions more relevant and practical?
David Munson is the director of Early Childhood Intervention in Billings, Montana, an agency providing Part C early intervention supports and resources to families. As a retired school principal and special education director he is now a rabid promoter of quality early intervention services in Montana with a focus on quality professional development for home visitors. David can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org