The science is in on New Year’s resolutions. According to a recent article by Bob Sulilvan in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, about half of us will resolve to change something in 2016, and about half of those resolvers will have given up by Valentine’s Day (that makes sense to me, I mean, the chocolate alone!). In spite of those odds, I love a good couple of New Year’s resolutions. Setting meaningful CLASS goals for the rest of your school or program year don’t have to be overwhelming, in fact, the simpler the better!
To avoid that February burn out, “pick small, specific goals and stick to them. As professional athletes often say, take care of the little things and the results will take care of themselves” (Sullivan, 2016). And what better way to make a true impact in the classroom than to pick one goal from each CLASS domain? Even better, how about resolutions that support each other and work together? We know from research that small improvements in CLASS scores can have meaningful impacts on children’s outcomes. So let’s get this New Year’s Resolutions Party started!
The Pre-K CLASS tool has three domains; Emotional Support (ES) which looks at what teachers do to support children’s social and emotional functioning in the classroom; Classroom Organization (CO) looks at how teachers manage children’s time, attention, and behavior in the classroom; and Instructional Support (IS) which looks at how teachers promote higher order thinking skills and language. Let’s set three goals, one per domain. Not just any goals—but goals that support one another across domains:
The Toddler CLASS tool has two domains. Emotional and Behavioral Support (EBS) considers what teachers do to provide social and emotional supports that promote all areas of development and manage children’s behavior, time, and attention in the classroom. And Engaged Support for Learning (ESL) refers to what teachers do to promote cognitive and language development. Again, let's set two goals—one per domain—that support one another across domains.
The Infant CLASS tool has one domain, Responsive Caregiving (RC), which encompasses what teachers do to provide social emotional supports, encourage children’s engagement and development, and how they support language development. Let’s set one goal to support our Infant CLASS efforts.
No matter what age group you work with, I hope these simple goals will support your CLASS journey through 2016, and beyond! Try not to worry about setbacks; making change is always a work in progress. Do be kind to yourself, as “Gretchen Rubin, author of Better than Before and The Happiness Project, makes the point that people who treat themselves (and others) with sympathy have an easier time picking themselves up after a fall” (Sullivan, 2016).
It’s Dual Language Learner Celebration Week! Every year in the U.S., the amount of young children who live in a household where a language other than English is spoken has been steadily increasing. As of 2016, about one-third of children under age 8 – over 11 million children – are dual language learners (DLLs).
As an infant classroom teacher, you know that talking to babies is important. For instance, you tell the infants in your care what they are looking at (“You see the new block basket on the shelf!”). You label objects (“You have the red ball!”). And you describe events that take place in the classroom (“The tray just fell off the table! That scared you.”). These are all examples of talking with babies. Why, then, can it be so challenging to do this consistently in the classroom?
A few years into teaching early childhood, I applied to work at a school that does incredible work in the local community. I was thrilled to get an interview but realized very quickly that, even though the environment was supportive and the students were wonderful young people, I was much too intimidated to work there.
One of the best things about teaching is having a fresh start every morning. Greeting your students plays an important part in setting the tone of your classroom. I like to think that, as teachers, we get a chance to make a good first impression each day. Let's take a moment to consider the impact greetings can have with students, not only at the beginning of the school day but throughout the day as well.