At Teachstone, we are all in on early learning. The research shows us that, with the help of effective educators, there is so much potential to build a strong foundation for children’s learning well before elementary school. But some research, including the Head Start Impact Study and the research on Tennessee’s voluntary pre-K, has complicated the story. Researchers found that in some cases, gains made in early childhood education seemed to fade out by around third grade.
Follow-up research has added to the narrative.
It found that the perceived fadeout doesn’t happen when children continue to have high-quality learning experiences year after year.
That’s among the reasons that Teachstone founder and CEO Bridget Hamre recently authored an article in The Learning Professional, the Learning Forward journal.
In it, she calls for a shared vision across the early grades that can lead to quality and sustained child outcomes.
It may seem obvious that children who more often have excellent teachers are more likely to succeed. What’s less obvious is that the ways we systematically define “excellent” and our instructional priorities vary greatly, even just within the preschool to third-grade continuum.
Recent research cited by our CEO compares the time devoted to different content areas (literacy, math, science) and methods for instruction (whole group, small group, individual work, free play) in pre-K and kindergarten.
The idea that these massive changes take place over just one year of a young child’s life is shocking to consider.
But despite these differences, Dr. Bridget Hamre offers a way forward.
She identifies three components of great teaching in the early years:
Educators and leaders can orient around these shared ideas across age levels with tools like the CLASS®. When they do so, they create the alignment that children need -- that our entire education system needs -- to succeed for the long haul.
Receive timely updates delivered straight to your inbox.
When I was a teacher, I can remember taking care to intentionally plan differentiated, or individualized, instruction. And, when I was teaching pre-K I added the same level of intentionality to which materials were available in interest areas, and how I approached transitions throughout the day.
While any level of intentionally, specifically in relation to planning, is important -- I missed a critical opportunity in being more intentional in my interactions with the children in my class.
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!