Importance of Lifelong Learning and Professional Development
by Jessie Taylor |
Now more than ever, lifelong learning is vital to not only the future of youth, but for businesses—both Government and private sector. Having a supportive and flexible workplace is crucial to the promotion of lifelong learning, and to the success of any professional development or further education opportunities that arise for young people.
I graduated from high school in 2010 at the age of seventeen, which was when my journey of higher education began. I was enrolled at community college in a program for Early Childhood Education and joined the work force (in a job outside my field of interest) as a Beauty consultant at a local Drugstore. Fast forward twelve years and I am currently enrolled to start university courses and have a job in my field of interest working with children. Over these twelve years I have worked for both non-profit and for-profit organizations and employers that value and encourage professional development and lifelong learning, as well as those that have no interest in supporting their employees in these ways. The benefits that come from the former are clear.
Professional development and education are beneficial for the individual, but also bring new insights and can help businesses and organizations continue to grow and succeed in our continuously evolving world. I’ve been able to take professional development courses around nature and outdoor play, exploring light and shadow with children, and music and movement in an early learning setting. These courses have given me the information and resources necessary to enrich the activities and experiences I provide to children. The information provided through these professional development courses, and the educators who taught them, have helped me greatly in working towards becoming the early childhood educator I’ve always wanted to be.
I currently work for supervisors who promote and encourage lifelong learning. They continuously communicate opportunities for workshops being offered through Nova Scotia Community College and The Association of Early Childhood Educators of Nova Scotia, as well as other workplace specific opportunities. My supervisors also lead by example through taking time to prioritize their own learning and professional development, while they encourage staff to do the same. For example, my supervisor informed me of the opportunity to take a course called circle of security, which helps caregivers reflect upon children’s needs in order to promote secure attachments. This course helped me gain the knowledge and tools I needed to meet the needs of the children in my care. The course was provided through an online setting right after my work shift, so I was able to use the classroom and resources there, which was beneficial to me and my schedule.
Having a variety of options for sessions that cover varying topics and scheduled dates and times (including designated workdays that can be used for these opportunities) helps ensure that this learning fits with my schedule. This is essential to me, being in a field were to keep my current level as an ECE, I am required to complete thirty hours of professional development every three years. Working for and with others who understand and value me and my time, and who encourage me along the way, is life changing.
In addition to what I’ve outline above, supervisors can help encourage their employees to engage in lifelong learning by being supportive, and by taking an active interest in their employees and their learning or education goals. Asking what they can do to help or how they can accommodate for their employees’ needs in order to support their learning is so important in creating an inclusive work environment. The benefits and opportunities I have had to attend the professional development courses previously mentioned have shaped me into the early childhood educator I am now. Being part of a team and workforce that will continue to support me for the years to come is life changing. Knowing that I can grow as a professional and support my coworkers and place of employment while pursuing my goals is the future that so many of us are looking for.
CEI Youth Advisory Group Member, 2021-22
Jessie Taylor works for the Annapolis Valley Regional Centre for Education as a Pre-Primary Educator. She attended NSCC Kingstec and graduated with a Diploma in Early Childhood Education in 2013. She also completed the Early Childhood Leadership Training Program through the NSCC Cumberland campus in 2021. She is currently enrolled in the Child and Youth Program at Mount Saint Vincent University. She has a passion for lifelong learning, child development and providing the best care and education to her students.