My name is Erin Harper, and I am the Early Childhood Consultant for the Pennyroyal Center. I became a Credentialed Early Childhood Trainer with a specialty in mental health in December 2019. Once I started reaching out to my region’s early childhood professionals, I began to book quickly. Within a month of receiving my credential, I had five trainings scheduled between March and May of 2020; however, I was only able to conduct two face-to-face trainings until COVID-19 took over and changed our world.
I began to research my options of how I could deliver solid content to the entities I had already planned with. With some research and help of my Training Coach, April Brown, I was able to create content as an Independent Study.
My thoughts while creating the Independent Study…
In my opinion, it’s hard to beat the quality of a face-to-face training. As with anything, I believe there are pros and cons with both delivery methods. With my limited experience of conducting in-person trainings, a few things I have enjoyed are being able to connect with others, the authenticity of face-to-face conversations, and the immediate opportunity for participants to engage and ask questions about the content. Although, when necessary, it is important to be able to effectively re-direct the group.
On the other hand, creating content for an Independent Study allows individuals to move at their own pace through the content rather than having to set aside a continual amount of time for a face-to-face training. Participants are able to easily pause, rewind, or repeat any exercises throughout the training, but an Independent Study option does not allow the opportunity for immediate conversation surrounding the content. Independent Studies allow participants time to contemplate the material which may, in turn, raise questions they may not have thought of in a face-to-face training. For the Independent Study, I created multiple ways for participants to engage in the content. I combined a variety of learning engagements such as educational videos, videos of myself delivering content and using PowerPoint, opportunities for participants to journal, worksheets, and creating a plan for their own classroom. I also included a time log workshet, so participants could log their time spent on the training.
Although I took initiative to create an Independent Study as an option for participants, due to the flexibility of requirements, no group has had to utilize the Independent Study content I had put together. (It was one of those situations where my thought process was: “I’d rather have it and not need it, rather than need it and not have it”.)
When it boils down to it, it comes down to adaptability. As a Trainer, I have come to realize the importance of flexibility—not just during worldwide pandemics but also in our trainings. We have content prepared that we want to cover fully, but sometimes what the group needs is to focus on that one piece of the training in order to grow… and, that’s OK!
I want to thank you all for taking your time to read about my experiences, and I hope this has been helpful and/or encouraging!