First, let me thank Lisa Terry for the idea for this post! Lisa posted “Feeling inspired” on our Facebook page during the Early Intervention Institute we hosted on Tuesday. I couldn’t agree more so decided to “borrow” her words! Thanks Lisa! 🙂
In the past 2 weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of attending and presenting at 2 fantastic events: the Early Intervention Institute here in VA this week, and the Division for Early Childhood Conference in St. Louis last week. Both were inspirational and rich with opportunities to learn and share information, network with colleagues and catch up with friends. I always wonder which is more important – the learning, the sharing, or the networking? Maybe it doesn’t matter because there’s inspiration to be found in them all.
I thought I’d share a few bits of inspiration that I picked up:
It’s all about relationships – This seemed to be a theme for me across both conferences. Whether we’re talking about blogging for professional development (my session at DEC) and building a relationship with your readers (I love you guys!), building rapport with families in challenging situations, or supporting the parent-child relationship during and between visits…it all comes down to healthy collaboration and supportive relationships. EI is not about toys or paperwork; it’s about relating well to those we support and enhancing their learning and capacity to independently meet their own needs. When we “dig deeper” (to borrow Dathan Rush’s words during our keynote), we find that the best intervention and learning occur in the context of all of these pivotal relationships.
“Parents are a child’s best motivators” – This quote also came from our keynote at the EI Institute. I think we know this as early interventionists, but do we actually practice it? As the professionals, we want the children to like us and want to interact with us, but no matter how much fun we can be, at the end of the day the parent is really the person the child needs and most wants to engage with. Carry that with you, instead of your toy bag!
“Practice self-reflection” and “become comfortable with discomfort” – I attended a session on evidence-based coaching models at DEC. The presenters talked about practicing and facilitating self-reflection when using coaching. I think both are important to expanding knowledge and skills – for practitioners and for the families they support. The presenters talked about the importance of “wondering, empathy, not knowing, and reflecting” as means to build knowledge and understanding. They talked about the need to “become comfortable with discomfort” which is like getting comfortable with silence, something we often struggle with as natural problem-solvers. Facilitating self-reflection in families we support requires that we hold the space for the family to think about options, reflect on what they know, have tried, or want to do. Practicing our own self-reflection is so important to moving our skills forward. It’s uncomfortable to not know the answer, or to not provide your answer right away to a parent seeking help. Holding the space for self-reflection is an intentional act that allows you to grow, and allows the parent the space and support to try to find the answer he/she seeks. Facilitating self-reflection might just be a key to building those relationships, taking advantage of the magical interaction between the parent and child, and becoming a better early interventionist.
I’d love to hear about something you’ve learned recently – whether you attended a conference session, read an enlightening article, were inspired by a colleague or had an “ah-ha” moment with a family. I’ve shared a few things that have recently inspired me…
What’s inspired you lately?
If you’re interested in checking out some of the handouts from the EI Institute, visit the Institute’s page on the VA Early Intervention Professional Development Center site.