Local EI System Management, Practical Strategies, Professional Development, Recent Articles

Put a Blog-Log on the Fire

Sitting Around the Campfire

Here you are sitting around the campfire with good friends after an exhausting day….just staring at the flickering flame.  Each person sitting shutterstock_127292468around this circle is lost in his or her own thoughts, drifting miles away.  Then someone pulls out a big log, pokes the embers, blows on them, strategically places the log in the best spot and the fire takes off with intense ferocity.  This causes folks to sit up straighter and the conversation takes on new energy.  Someone brings out marshmallows and roasting sticks.  Another retrieves some graham crackers and chocolate bars.  The change in mood is astounding and the “round-the-fire” camaraderie is clearly infectious!  Ahhh….this is good!

Early Intervention Staff Meetings – The Little Fire

Early Intervention staff meetings (or routine training sessions) are often the first time an early interventionist has time to sit down in several days.  It is not unusual to see blank stares and dazed looks.  Sitting around this “little fire” with one person spewing information doesn’t generate much enthusiasm.  Despite a well-planned agenda and efforts to invoke staff input, the energy remains low. It is simply a matter of taking care of business.  There is likely a longing for more practical relevant real life early intervention strategies….things that really work.  What if they could hear about ideas from other early interventionists around the country and then be asked to offer their own ideas to help colleagues as they work with families?  What if one person’s ideas generated another’s contribution?

Throw on a Blog-Log

Some wise person around that circle selected the perfect blog -log from the VEIPD Blog and placed it on the fire.  With a few pre-planned pokes and blows the blog-log lit up the conversation.  It stimulated more energy and the fire-watchers became contributing and engaged participants.  Stories were shared, ideas were generated, comments were made…..all to benefit the families supported in early intervention.   Ahhh…..this is good!

What Does This Look Like?

Toward the end of a recent routine staff meeting we pulled out the “Don’t Forget the Fathers” blog written by Dana.  We took 3-4 minutes to read it quietly and ponder the questions Dana posed.  Once the early interventionists were asked an initial open-ended question their ideas and suggestions popped like popcorn on a hot griddle.  The synergy was palpable and the enthusiasm was contagious.  Suggestions and ideas were freely shared and many of the staff members took written notes (more notes were feverishly taken during that 10 minute discussion than the entire previous 2 hours).  This blog-log happens at least once each month, with a strategic pre-planned selection of a topic that supports our overall vision.  It is our experience that home visitors always bring out a broad array of opinions and helpful ideas.  This acknowledges the value of their contributions and opens the door to learning more from each other.  It also helps them know THEIR ideas will be shared with others around the nation on the VEIPD Strategies for Success Blog.

Blog-Logs as Part of Intentional Professional Development

What effect would you see if you helped spice up a staff meeting or training session with a blog-log discussion?

What is your favorite strategy for using the VEIPD Strategies for Success blog?

How do you support early intervention colleagues in making staff meetings or training sessions more relevant and practical?


DavidDavid Munson is the director of Early Childhood Intervention in Billings, Montana, an agency providing Part C early intervention supports and resources to families.  As a retired school principal and special education director he is now a rabid promoter of quality early intervention services in Montana with a focus on quality professional development for home visitors. David can be contacted at munsondc@billingsschools.org


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10 Comments to “Put a Blog-Log on the Fire”

  1. Thanks so much for writing this for us, David! It’s been wonderful to read about how you all are using blog articles in Montana. I love the idea that these posts are helping to stimulate discussion among your staff. I hope that others will share how they are using the blog too! 🙂

  2. LOVE this article, David! I have found the same experience in using the blog articles, but you painted the picture so much more beautifully than I ever could have! We have used the articles during small group supervision for Service Coordinators and they have ignited some great discussion and energy into a monthly activity that can feel a little rote at times. I have also used the articles in professional development opportunities as a team teaching activity with groups of early intervention providers. Each group had a different pre-selected article designed to further discussion of Effective Home Visiting in Early Intervention. The groups each spent time discussing their article among themselves, generated a list of ideas and then each group taught the rest of us what they had learned! Love using the blog articles to generate discussion on a Facebook group page for early intervention providers too!

  3. What a great idea, Amy! To jigsaw blog-logs like you do taps into the highest level of retention…actually teaching the concept. You tap into their strong motivation to be thoughtful and clear in presenting the information. That keeps the level of performance at the very top level. Don’t you just love Dana’s style of making the subjects relevant and practical? Thanks for sharing!

  4. Great blog! I read it and got a warm fire feeling. I also quickly shared it across our programs and look forward to kindling more blog-fire discussions :).

  5. WOW, David! I was so totally captivated with your cozy fire and smores that I found myself “warmed up” and excited about the possibilities. I’m hoping we can generate more “blog-logs.” We’d love to hear from other Virginians, other states and territories. Let’s have a bonfire!

  6. Cori, I wonder what would happen if you became visibly energized by a blog-log discussion among colleagues/home visitors at a meeting and offered something like this… “I’m going to share your great ideas with the world!”. If you posted their ideas under the comments for that particular blog article it would reinforce the fact that your frontline home visitors have MUCH to share. They just need a few embers poked, a little fanning of the flames, and someone to broadcast their creative ideas to the world. Thanks for warming up around the fire with Dana, Amy, Naomi and me!

  7. Thank you, David, for writing this piece as it came at a critical time. Our EI team here in England has been looking at giving up our once monthly meetings to discuss team process and staff improvement. This would be a good catalyst for change in the other direction and I do plan to share. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    • I hope your team is able to use the blog as a resource, Jeff. Let us know how it goes and if there are topics we can tackle to help your team!

      I’m also curious to know more about EI in England. Are you working with English families or American military families? I ask because many years ago I worked at RAF Alconbury with military families. I loved England! 🙂

  8. Hi Dana-Yes I do, indeed, work with military families at RAF Lakenheath. It takes EI to a whole other level when working within the military. I am going to propose that we use some of the posts here as a vehicle for discussion. As we begin discussing, I will let you know if there are other topics that might be worth exploring. Thanks for your follow up and keep up the good work on this blog.

    • What a small world! I remember Lakenheath well, although it’s probably changed quite a bit since I was in England. I’m happy to hear that you all might be using the blogs for staff development. Good luck and keep me posted on how it goes!

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