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The Head Start Designation Renewal System (DRS) is the party that I got an invitation to that I really didn’t want to attend. But, ultimately, we realized it really was a party, and we wanted to be there.
The lens through which you look is key, because your mentee will feel where you are coming from – whether you state your perspective or not. Whenever I coach, I observe, get a base line, and from there we start to build skills. My frame of reference is that each person is expanding. A while back, Cheri Moring wrote in her blog about a metaphor we have used which says that every teacher has a tool belt and our goal is to put more tools in that tool belt. One teacher may start with 5 tools, another may start with 20, but we are continually building skills, never judging the tool belt for the number of tools it has.
There I was at the final session of a yearlong professional development program, which surprisingly, and very pleasantly, turned out to be the most atypical professional development that I had ever attended. As an administrator for more than 14 years, I had experienced quite a few of them and was therefore extremely conversant on the good and bad of professional development. This professional development, however, seemed more of a retreat for early childhood administrators desperately in need of refuge from the tumultuous world of accountability.
On February 1, 2015, Early Learning Ventures (ELV) became Colorado’s newest Early Head Start Grantee. Combining the comprehensive nature of Early Head Start services with our Shared Services Model, we are primed to serve 240 children and families in four distinct Colorado counties. To date, we have signed contracts with 26 licensed childcare programs, 11 childcare homes, and 15 centers, and we are still growing. On October 20, 2015, ELV’s enrollment reached the big TWO-ZERO-ZERO (200)—83% of our funded enrollment!
Building positive relationships through community and student engagement is one of the core values for the education department at Blue Ridge Community College, a community college located in Flat Rock, NC, with NAEYC-accredited education programs. Faculty in the early childhood and school-age education programs support their students’ success by modeling professionalism, ethical standards, collaboration, and community involvement. Since building positive relationships has been a core value of the program, faculty encourage students to develop positive interactions with children in classroom observations, volunteer work with children, as well as in their practicum experiences.
I once gave a cohort of student teachers each a magic wand as they approached their graduation. My colleague Maggie and I told the soon-to-be-teachers that their wand wasn’t a tool for summoning a fairy godmother to their respective new classrooms (although they were instructed to keep in touch). The wand was intended to serve as a reminder that there is no magic formula in teaching; however, there is a sound, scientific recipe for success, which they had already become very familiar with: the CLASS tool.
Our QRIS (Quality Rating and Improvement System) journey began in 2004 in a small office with just three staff. Just like many organizations, we contracted with a consultant to guide us in the implementation of our pilot QRS (Quality Rating System). We assembled quality indicators and requirements galore into eight domains, including ratios, screening and assessment, program operations, learning environment, curriculum, etc. Documents, documents, and more documents were reviewed to assign a star rating for a child care center.
When asked “What do children need for optimal growth and development?” most of us will reply “high quality care.” While this answer is correct, it is definitely not simple. With these three words, we refer to a complex system involving multiple partners, skills, knowledge, and challenges. Predictable routines, hands-on learning experiences, language-rich environments, positive interactions with caregivers, and parent engagement are just a few components of high quality care. In addition, all of these components are built on the foundation of a healthy, knowledgeable, well-trained and compensated work force.
Following the course of my 30+ years in the profession, I clearly recognize that not all early childhood educators have a “common core” of knowledge or experience about how best to work with young children and their families.
In her last blog post, Carol Bolz introduced a research project on coaching with CLASS Instructional Support and the Project Approach. There were many great examples about how the teachers used what they had learned to engage their students. We’d love to hear from you. How have you helped a teacher build these Instructional Support interactions? How have you, as teachers, encouraged these types of learning experiences?