This past year of hybrid and virtual learning due to the pandemic highlighted the gaps in learning and the inequities that we already knew existed. It is apparent, now more than ever, that there needs to be a narrow focus on bridging the divides (e.g., digital) that exist and meeting students where they are in order to promote growth and put less emphasis on standardized testing. This would allow teachers to concentrate on curriculum with greater impact, differentiate their instruction, and utilize effective strategies that they know make a difference for children’s outcomes.
In order for children to learn, they need to feel safe and supported. It is important for teachers to create learning environments where children respect one another and have opportunities to connect with their peers. This past year has been challenging for all. As teachers and children re-enter the classroom setting this fall, some for the first time in a year, it will be particularly critical for teachers to make space for children to connect (or re-connect) with their peers, build relationships, and learn (or relearn) how to respectfully interact in face-to-face settings. Creating this supportive environment is the critical first step in supporting children’s development and learning.
Modeling language and providing time for children to practice using language is particularly critical in the early years of school as they are developing their language proficiency. In many cases, this past year has meant interrupted, hybrid, or virtual schooling--all of which, despite everyone’s best efforts, is not ideal for practicing and developing language. As a result, it will be particularly important for teachers to increase their students’ exposure to verbal language.
Encourage children to make connections and think beyond rote memorization of isolated facts. Make the most of your time with children, and design lessons that challenge them to think more abstractly and activate their higher-order thinking. Due to the disruptions in schooling this past year for many children, a narrow focus on promoting analysis and reasoning would be highly beneficial.
Throughout the course of the day, there are a multitude of opportunities to engage children in effective interactions that further promote their development and learning. For even more strategies and teacher tips, download the resource guide below.
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There is always an opportunity for interaction. Some opportunities are easily recognizable: times of play, free choice, centers, small group. We often see teachers engaged in activities alongside children during these times or hear questions being asked. Other opportunities might be a little less obvious. These are the times of your day that you might see as mundane moments that merely require your supervision or monitoring. The times where you’re going through the motions. “I’m doing this thing so I can move on to the next thing.”
In a previous blog, colleague and early childhood environment extraordinaire, Heather Sason, discussed how your classroom environment can help promote effective teacher-child interactions. In this blog, I propose we explore some of the often overlooked times in your day that are ripe for interactions with children and that do promote exploration, learning, and development!
It's not uncommon for teachers in early education to need to strike a balance between following children's leads and sticking to the classroom schedule. We know that intentional teachers are aware of their responsibility to assess student progress, understand skill mastery, and plan accordingly to provide opportunities for children to grow. However, many times, as teachers begin a specific teacher-directed activity, it is unsettling when students begin to veer from the step-by-step plans the teacher has worked hard to implement.
Teacher and coach, Colleen Schmit, will share how teachers can strike the balance between following the lesson plans and giving children freedom of choice and flexibility in the classroom.
We’re more than a month into the school year, and many educators and school leaders are feeling tired or burnt out already. That’s normal in any school year, as the newness of back-to-school wanes and the reality of a long year ahead kicks in. But, this year, that tiredness may feel like it has never felt before. Chalkbeat has reported that teacher vacancies are up in 18 of 20 large school districts, and it’s not surprising. Many are exhausted after a difficult year and a half (to put it mildly!). Many are also leaving the profession in droves to find work in competitive environments that provide a substantially larger salary.
As an educator, you’re busy. Your time is being split by competing priorities, from managing students’ needs, meeting your program’s goals, and communicating with parents. While you’re juggling your work, it can be difficult to keep learning about important ways to improve your daily teaching practice. Teachstone is here to help!