SKiP Call: Writing a Conceptual Framework

I had the pleasure of attending the first SKiP professional development phone conference yesterday.

Debra Murphy, VP of Professional Development, set up the meeting and facilitated the conversation and I wanted to write something about the experience of being a participant. There were about 7 or 8 people from all across the country on the call and the topic was about writing a conceptual framework. Some of us on the call have gone through the process, others have started the process, and others are thinking about starting the process, so it was a small but diverse group.

Shared Knowledge & Practices:

  • Start the conversation about a conceptual framework by discussing theories and approaches that are important to your program.
  • Look at the mission of the college and the mission of the program and think about how your program fulfills these missions. The framework can help one to lay out the “how to” of the mission.
  • Engage your Advisory Board. In a meeting, you can do some writing together using large post-its on the wall.
  • Start with a curriculum map of your program. Look at what you are currently doing and look for themes across the program of study. What seems to be emphasized? This may be a good place to start your conceptual framework. It should be about who you are and what you value as a program.
  • Don’t think of it as an exercise for ECADA or for NAEYC. Think of it as something for yourself, your institution, and the community. It should be a document that makes sense to you, to your students, and to your partners in the field. One person shared that she gives the conceptual framework to her students and they bring it with them when they go on site visits or observation hours. It helps to communicate to others about the key components of your program.
  • Play with it. Don’t stress out about writing the document as this will give you writer’s block! Get a draft down and simply play with it. Don’t be afraid to put something on paper and show it to others for feedback.
  • Think of the conceptual framework as a living document rather than something etched in stone.
  • Take the time to write something that you are satisfied with. It should reflect who you are as a program and what you value for students and ultimately for young children and their families. If you take this time, the other pieces of the self-study will flow. It should all be connected. When you start to write your assessments, it should be clear that the conceptual framework guides your assessment practice.
  • You are not writing this in order to be judged by others. Rather, you are writing this as a way of making what you value more visible to yourself and to others.

I really enjoyed talking with ACCESS members about things that are important to them. It is clear to me that we are a group of people who can truly help each other to think through complex issues together as well as share practical resources with one another.

Debra has designed a Wikispace where we can post samples of conceptual frameworks and other self-study documents. This will be a place to share our stories and resources with each other. Please check it out!


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