Self Evaluation As An Early Years Practitioner

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Through this essay I aim to reflect on my personal and professional development over this academic year. At the beginning of the academic year I evaluated my own personal and professional skills through a self-audit (see appendix 1). I selected the Early Years Practitioner Status (EYPS) standards (2012) to use as a criteria to evaluate my skills against, as I believed this was relevant to me since I currently work within the early years, and my future career aim is to be an early year’s teacher. Evaluating my skills against the standards helped me form a better and clearer vision of myself in regards to which skills can be considered as my strength’s and which areas need further improvement. Through my self-evaluation, I pleasantly found that I was achieving most of the standards to some extent, as I was already applying them in my current work as a pre-school leader. For example, all five standards in the first topic of supporting the healthy growth and development of children are all a part of my current job role. Within this essay I aim to reflect on how my professionalism has developed through the use of these skills. Similarly, like in any evaluation along with my strengths I was also able to identify the skills which I needed to improve on. My self-evaluation highlighted that there were many areas that needed development in order to make my professional practice impeccable. However, within this academic year due to commitment to my studies and other work related issues improvement in all areas could not be achieved, and so I selected three key areas that needed improvement and created an action plan (see appendix 2) to help me achieve improvement in these areas. Through this essay I intend to reflect on how these areas have developed and how the action plan has helped in achieving the set targets.

The key areas I chose for development were supporting planning, supporting transitions and developing professionalism. I chose these three areas as I believed that they were the most significant areas that needed developing first to help me achieve better in my current job role, as well as this these goals were also achievable in the timescale available and could fit around my other commitments. Cottrell (2010, p.3) identifies that developing personal and professional skills allows individuals a deeper understanding of their performance  as well as providing individuals with greater confidence of an understanding on how to improve their performance. As my main aim of the self-evaluation was to gain an awareness of my practice and develop my professionalism, I decided that this was a key skill within itself that needed improvement. If I successfully developed the different skills which could help me in improving my practice further than this would be a great achievement. The Children’s Workforce Development Council (CWDC, 2011, lines 1-4) state that the Early years is a vibrant and extremely significant sector as the staff working within this sector play a crucial part in shaping the lives of the children they work with and so the staff need to be providing high quality practice at all levels. In order to provide high quality practice it is important to review and develop your professional skills frequently to ensure you are delivering your best. For me the most useful element in helping me to develop my professionalism was taking some time out to reflect on situations and writing a reflective log. Reflection is a significant step towards helping individuals develop their professionalism as Cottrell (2003, p.188) states reflection provides individuals an opportunity to gain an in depth and honest picture of themselves. She further suggests that by stepping back and observing a situation, individuals are allowed a chance to identify how others view them, thus giving them a greater understanding of things which have any type of effect on their performance and progress.

Whilst writing the reflective logs I was able to rethink the whole day in a different context and highlight main aspects of the day. I began thinking about why they went well and this thought process helped me to remember these skills for next time. Bolton (2010) suggests that the key to effective reflection is to view one’s actions in an evaluative way and use the findings to assist in improving practice further. By reflecting in this manner it will serve the purpose of allowing professionals to persistently improve their practice and become competent practitioners. After putting this reflection into practice I now feel more confident in writing reflections and critically evaluating any highlighted events. Furthermore, I am now able to use the information from my reflections to help me plan for similar situations.

The self-audit illuminated that there are many skills within the EYPS standards which can be considered as my key strength skills. These include knowledge and understanding of children’s development and supporting them through the various stages of development. This can be seen as I have not only gained in-depth child development knowledge through my university studies, but I put this knowledge into action daily as I plan different activities for all the children considering all their individual needs. Jarvis et al (2010, p.34) explain that professionals working with children should support children’s development through sustained shared thinking by considerately providing the contribution required for the child to move onto the next stage of development. This sustained shared thinking concept is influenced by Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory and his notion of the Zone of Proximal development.  Within this academic year I have been working with a child who has a speech and language delay. In order to provide a stimulating environment which is beneficial for this child I have been working in close partnership with other professionals. I feel that this has been a great opportunity for me as it has enabled me to significantly improve my understanding and ability to work with children with specific needs. My manager also praised me as she also felt that I had worked very hard in helping child x to settle in and achieve well. This has further increased my confidence in working with children with additional needs.

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The action plan designed was appropriate for my professional development as it set out the specific goal that was being worked towards and also described the method of achieving these goals. The action plan was effective in helping me successfully achieve my targets because I had set SMART targets. It is advised that in order for targets to be effective they should be specific, measurable, assignable, realistic and timely. (Doran, 1981, p.35; Cottrell, 2010, p.117). Additionally, the evaluation of the targets set in the action plan and how they were achieved also helps in understanding if the actions were appropriate ...

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