Ginny earned her BA in Psychology at New College of Florida and her PhD in Developmental Psychology at the University of Miami. Prior to joining the team at Teachstone, she spent a year at the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) at the University of Virginia as a research associate. At Teachstone, Ginny worked with partners to develop evaluation strategies and to maintain Teachstone's strong commitment to bringing research to practice. She is now bringing her policy experience back to the research arena with a move back to CASTL, but continues to advise Teachstone on research-to-practice and the latest research findings.
What does quality teaching look like in an early childhood classroom? Twenty-five years ago, it was providing a safe place for children to play, with stimulating materials and books to read. Today, we have provided those basics in most early childhood classrooms, and our focus has shifted to the hows of quality—how teachers interact with children, how they use time and materials to get the most out of every moment, and how they ensure that children are engaged and stimulated.
I recently blogged about why recertification is important (bottom line: it’s your yearly chance to test yourself against master-coded videos). But what about between recertifications? How do you ensure that you stay reliable throughout the year?
In our earliest implementations, when Teachstone was just being formed, we often heard that teachers were caught off guard by CLASS-based professional development. Trainers were hearing questions like “What am I doing here?” “Why was I asked to attend?” and “How does this relate to my other professional growth activities?” We quickly learned that teachers and professional development providers need to be on the same page about goals. Sometimes goals for teacher-child interactions are set at the program level; sometimes they are set for individual teachers. Either way, everyone needs to be clear on what they are reaching for.
Good news! All change has to start somewhere, and you can take positive steps no matter where you’re starting from. Take this (non-scientific) quiz to get thinking about where you are now and what your next steps might be toward improving teacher-child interactions at your organization.
Several times in the past few years, I’ve had conversations with colleagues about teachers at the high end of the CLASS scale. It’s very rare to see a teacher score in the high range across multiple domains, and especially in Instructional Support. It’s a bit more common to see a teacher who gets 6s and 7s in Emotional Support and Classroom Organization, but low/mid or mid-range scores in Instructional Support.
One child arrives late, another needs to clean up after a painting, and some children are having a dispute in the block area—all while a teacher is trying to get a small group engaged in a letter-learning activity.
There is a new study out that suggests that teachers benefit from coaching that has an early and frequent focus on Instructional Support. Bob Pianta and his colleagues looked at teachers in MyTeachingPartner (MTP) Coaching and tried to untangle the effects of different components of the program.
At Teachstone, we spend so much time focused on early childhood that it's easy to lose track of all the great work being done in the upper grades. For this reason, my colleague, Joe Pierce, and Jessica, our blog moderator, asked me to review some of the research on interactions in upper elementary and secondary classrooms. There are recent findings that point to the importance of teacher-student interactions, even for students in high school. Here are some key points, along with links to articles in case you want to dig deeper.
Twenty-five years ago, quality teaching in early childhood classrooms meant providing a safe place for children to play, with stimulating materials and books to read. Today, we have provided those basics in most early childhood classrooms, and our focus has shifted to the hows of quality—how teachers interact with children, how they use time and materials to get the most out of every moment, and how they ensure that children are engaged and stimulated.