Calvary City Academy & Preschool closed on March 13, along with most programs in Florida. While closed, we had much to prepare for reopening. While children were home, we prepared packets to send home, met with children virtually, and even hosted things like field day, spirit week, and graduation virtually! Even with those successes, we were so happy to be able to return to being in-person when we reopened in June. Since June, we’ve learned a lot. Here’s what’s working for us:
When we started school, we spent the first 2 weeks just building routines. We focused only on learning the new hand-washing routine, how to line up, how to maintain space, how centers will work, and more. If you have planned a moment to teach, and can’t because you need to take more time to build relationships and routines, don’t worry about it. Just do what you can do.
The children have been great with masks and new routines. They’ve learned how to keep space while lining up and walking in the hallways. Our teachers are in a good pattern with one teaching while the other supports hand-washing, cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing. We’ve eliminated cloth material and things we can’t easily wipe down. Even with that, we have extras of everything- extra masks, extra gloves, extra supplies. And we also have an extra room, so if someone feels sick or has a fever, we can quarantine them until their family can come.
Because each classroom has two teachers, we tell our teachers they can always take a breather. We make sure teachers can take a walk at lunch. We have an empty classroom, so if a teacher needs to talk, we can sit, distanced, and talk it out. If a teacher is struggling, we brainstorm and help each other. Building a good environment that supports teamwork has really helped.
Now that parents don’t come into the facility and we do quick, masked drop-offs, it can be hard to find time to connect with the parents in traditional ways. My assistant director and I make sure we’re available to communicate. If parents need to meet with a teacher, we use Zoom for that. We have also found it helpful to use CLASS Dojo, signs with updates outside the building, and a daily planner that goes home. And of course, we also use email. The parents are excited and are doing well!
This is all still new so we’re always looking for more information. I’ve been reading what is working for others. I get a lot of ideas from the CLASS Learning Community. And coaching is always good! We’re still coaching during this time. Any training, webinar, or resource I can offer to our teachers, I do.
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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!