Methodology for professional development that increases well-being and reduces sick leave among preschool staff
For more than a year, pre-school developer Marie Cornmark has been using LoopMe as a communication and support tool together with the 180 employees in pre-school in Skurup municipality. She can already see it has made a difference regarding well-being and the ability to apply learning reflection in everyday life. The rates of sickness absence also show good effects due to this approach: the annual summary shows that sickness absence among Skurup preschool staff has decreased from 7% in 2016 to 5.9% by 2017.
– The added value of LoopMe is that I can get feedback from my employees in a very simple and quick way. A day of professional development doesn’t end when the day of training is over anymore. LoopMe opens up for an ongoing impact: I can communicate with each employee who sends loops to me. Based on that, I can then analyze, compare and interpret both the participants’ response and their opinions about the content of the education.
The tags the employees chose to use in their loops, as well as the emotional icon they used, gave me a quick overview of the overall experience of the training day. I could forward this feedback to the lecturers who could then adapt the content into their next training days.
Marie Cornmark is a pre-school developer in Skurup Preschools, which comprises 11 preschools and three preschool leaders. Since January 2017, she also participates as a facilitator in the municipality’s competence development project Inkludera & Mötas (Inclusion by Joining in). The project is a three-year-project and is funded by the European Social Fund (ESF). All project leaders in the project uses LoopMe in their formative dialogues together with the more than 600 employees participating in the project. The research team that follows the project also uses the system as a support in their data collection.
Marie Cornmark’s part of the project is called “Rings on the Water” and was started on the basis of a number of wishes that appeared in the mapping that preceded the project.
– We wanted our employees to experience greater transparency, joy, clarity, responsibility and effective cooperation at their workplace.
During four half days in 2017 Marie collaborated with two external trainers who worked with all staff. Together, she and her staff assimilated several tools that they could use in their workplace and in their private life.
– During the education it became clear for everyone how easy it is to say that we all should work to create transparency, joy, clarity, etc, though much harder to know HOW to work with it. This was the very focus of the education.
Between training days, Marie has observed the staff in groups a number of times. In these groups, she noted that the new tools were discussed, and that the usage also raised from the personal level up to the level of professional operation.
–Before each meeting, I prepared myself by reading the tasks that the participants had conducted. Through their reports, I was able to see what the participants had learned during the training days and could also find out if something was unclear and needed to be further explained or processed. Furthermore I could get suggestions for topics of discussion before the next staff meeting. Through LoopMe, I was able to clarify, explain and ask questions by commenting on their personal LoopMe-reports.
Increased ability to reflect
Marie describes that her colleagues in preschool often feel that they do not have enough time to reflect on new teaching- and working methods in their work. Nor have they been used to reflecting individually.
-Using LoopMe has challenged every employee to reflect, but in peace and quiet, instead of sitting with his or her team of work, where some easily can take a more passive role because of them feeling emotions of insecurity. Here I could see how LoopMe got some of my coworkers to dare to express their view that otherwise held a low profile.
Marie could also see how many employees developed their ability to reflect over time.
– I could see at the start of the project many participants assumed that I as a receiver expected a “correct” response from them. After looping a few times, I could see a difference in depth in their reflections and that they dared to express more on their thoughts and opinions.
She further states that even her own way of coaching her staff during this competence development has been affected:
-As a facilitator, I have learned to ask questions and give the participants tasks in LoopMe that are beneficent to both me, my coworkers and the organization. I have also tried using a flat group in LoopMe where participants can read each other’s reflections. I chose to do this in a group I felt had created a team spirit and trust. The participants felt it was rewarding both being brave sharing their thoughts, and to get acquainted with other people’s experiences and reflections. We developed a safe collegial learning process that was not dependent on everyone being on place at the same time for sharing their reflection.
Improved working environment
Skurup municipality’s annual summary of sickness absence among its employees also clearly shows that the negative trend has turned. In general, absence due to sickness has increased in recent years, but by 2017, sick leave for staff in pre-schoolas decreased from 7% (in 2016) to 5.9%. Marie confirms that she can notice a change in well-being, working environment in the groups.
-I can read from the loops, and even when I talked to preschool leaders, that the working environment has improved. The change I think is due to the fact that all employees in Skurup preschool have participated in the project and all the tools are therefore incorporated and known to everyone. They use the same concept no matter what preschool they work on, this gives a good foundation.
In LoopMe I can read that employees both remind / encourage each other to use the tools, and also provide feedback to each other when they find that a tool has been used. The prosperity has increased, and I think this is because they have stopped the negative spiral they previously experienced as they now have the tools to influence their own way of meeting different people and their surroundings. They are now more aware of the energy they spread at staff meetings, in the staffroom and in the meeting with parents and children.
Now Marie and her colleagues want to ensure that the positive trend is in place. Marie will continue to use LoopMe with her unit developers as this contributed to a collegial learning they seek. She also believes that Skurup Preschool will continue with further training days together with the two external educators.
This is the beginning of a learning journey and we will also analyze this way of working with both training and LoopMe as an evaluation tool to bring our new understanding into our planned skills management plan.
The Project ”Inkludera & Mötas”
(Inclusion by joining in)
The project “Inkludera och Mötas” is a three-year project funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and Skurup municipality. The long term effect of the project is to prevent youth exclusion, by training professionals. Focus is on inclusion, motivation, response and norm-critical approaches, as well as providing tools for streamlining organizations.
The project started in February 2015 and comprises about 600 participants from the municipality of Skurup, local companies, the Employment Service and some jobseekers. At present, the project is in the implementation phase, which includes a wide range of tailor-made skills training days. The project will end on February15, 2019.