Kathryn stays busy, whether at work, where she keeps a close eye on Teachstone materials, or at home, where she manages a full household (two children, two dogs, one cat, one husband, and four schedules). Passionate about education and interactions, she spent her teaching career supporting students—from those at risk of failure and dropping out, to pregnant teens, to honors students—as they used reading and writing to deepen their self-understanding. She left the bricks-and-mortar classroom for online education, creating multi-media courses for teachers and administrators, before finding her way to Teachstone, where she’s been involved with the development of every program we offer! With her great respect for educators and their daily challenges, she gets fueled by talking with teachers and coaches and the children they support. With two daughters of her own, she sees even more the importance of high-quality education.
It’s a gorgeous spring day here in central Virginia. The trees are leafing out, the lilacs are in full bloom, and the birds are busy nesting. A particularly ambitious robin is building three nests in one of my planters. One is quite full, the other less so, and the third just has the beginnings of a proper nest. Looking at it reminds me of scoring trends for the three domains of the CLASS (generally, we see lots of evidence of effective Emotional Support and Classroom Organization, and less for Instructional Support). As coaches, what do we do about that, especially if we believe in a strengths-based approach?
When we’re looking at Quality of Feedback, we’re really looking at what children know, understand, and do—and how teachers respond in ways that build from there to expand their learning, understanding, and persistence.
We need to let the child do the work of figuring out how to zip up their coat and how letters signify sounds. We need them to keep trying, even when it’s hard. That doesn’t mean we abandon them; it actually takes more support from us, more intentionality and focus. And it’s really important to children’s learning!
My daughters were both early talkers (taking after their chatty mother, I’m sure). My oldest’s first word was, adorably, “Mama.” My second child’s was “no,” followed by “too” as in “me too, I want that!” At her first Christmas, her big sister unwrapped a doll and Dava immediately burst into tears, yelling, “Too, too!” At nine months, her communication system was working great! (And yes, she got a doll, “too, too.”)
Entering elementary school is a big step for children, a true rite of passage. I can still remember my very first day of school, how excited I was to join my big sister on the bus, how much I loved the little containers of milk and my teacher’s bouffant hairdo! I made a best friend that day—and was confounded by the “K-I-S-S-I-N-G” song kids sang on the bus. By the time I hit third grade, though, I knew what to expect. I was a real “big kid” (and old enough to know not to call myself one).
The CLASS tool measures interactions in classrooms serving infants through high school students. That’s quite a span—and also why there are six different tools tailored to each age level. So what links these different tools? That’s where a fancy-pants term comes in: heterotypic continuity.
I spend a lot of time in our Video Library, looking at the many ways teachers interact with children effectively. I’m always struck by how present effective teachers are as they respond to children and promote their development! As we prepare the new Infant Video Library—40 strong examples of effective interactions—I teared up many times witnessing the tender nurturing of children’s development. I am so impressed with the teaching I see!
Many of us here at Teachstone are parents, or enjoy nieces, nephews, godchildren, and “little friends.” It’s wonderful to welcome new additions to our staff family (the latest arrived just last week!) and to connect with the youngest children.
We're a creative bunch, but generally not too “wild and crazy.” We tend to work quietly as we develop trainings, produce videos, write about any and everything, and enhance the user experience. But with two theater majors, a filmmaker, and a former rugby chief of protocol, you can imagine that we have a lot of fun!