The B.C. government is investing $2 million to improve professional development for early childhood educators around the province.
Katrina Chen, minister of state for child care, was at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo on Monday morning to announce the new program, which will fund the hiring of 32 teaching specialists, called pedagogists, around B.C.
The pedagogists – based at hubs at post-secondary institutions, child care referral centres and in indigenous communities – will each work with dozens of early childhood educators in their areas.
Antje Bitterberg, a VIU professor and pedagogist, said she will work alongside children, families, educators and practicum students within the early learning framework, supporting the efforts of ECEs to be attentive to children and intentional in their teaching.
“This ongoing access to rich professional development opportunities will – I hope, and I think I know – increase retention of educators in the field,” Bitterberg said. “Working collaboratively, we will be able to question conventional structures in education and wonder together how we might see things anew.”
VIU early childhood education student Sabrina Limas said she expects the initiative will be a rewarding and exciting opportunity to work as a team in learning new teaching methods and trying different tools and technologies to facilitate new educational experiences for children.
“We will get the opportunity to reflect a bit more on our methodologies and look at things in a different, more collaborative way,” she said.
Nanaimo MLA Sheila Malcolmson talked about a recent visit to a Nanaimo childcare centre and said workers there described to her how much impact they knew they were having on kids’ lives.
“They are hungry for training and tools and resources…” Malcolmson said. “[This program] meets needs of the workers and that will fan out to the families and the kids.”
Chen talked about how the new teaching network is part of a broader commitment to improve supports for early childhood educators. A press release from the Ministry of Children and Family Development notes that the teaching network is part of a previously announced $136-million sum for early care and learning professionals.
“At the end of the day, we want to make sure children are not just in a childcare centre for the sake of being looked after, but also making sure they are getting the best-quality early learning experience and I think that’s what we’re aiming for,” she said.
The program is being run by the Early Childhood Pedagogy Network and it is already underway.