Can we talk about structure? When CLASS entered my life, I was 20 years into my career in the field of early childhood education. What I remember most about that initial training, besides the nervousness about an impending reliability test, was a sense of relief. Structure, including State and program standards, curriculum, materials in the classroom, and approaches to childcare and pedagogy, had dominated my working hours. CLASS was a lot to learn, but for me, it was a breath of fresh air. Observing with CLASS meant I could set aside my obsession with all things structural – which encompassed my thoughts every time I walked into an early childhood classroom.
For me, though, focusing on the process, or what adults do within a program structure as defined by the CLASS dimensions, revealed an all too true reality. The classroom structure present in any given program has a strong influence on adult’s interactions with the children in their care. While a thoughtful program structure may encourage rich adult-child interactions, many approaches to early childhood program delivery hinder an adults’ ability to interact effectively.
We are often stuck with structural issues that are challenging or impossible to change. An example that comes to mind is building structure; the bathrooms, for instance, are down a school hallway. Or, staffing may dictate the need to move the children in large groups. Sometimes, we are convinced it is easier to accomplish a routine with the entire group of toddlers so that the room will all nap or eat or play on the same schedule. It takes creativity, and adult buy-in to make structural changes.
Acknowledging the effect structure is having on the process is a significant first step. Making changes to program structure that support quality teacher-child interactions takes being willing to stick to it for longer than a week, or even two weeks, to see meaningful results. Are you interested in improving the structure of your program? Small steps you can take to affect change in the short term include:
Ready for more long term, meaningful change? Consider professional development opportunities for your classroom staff that blends the process of CLASS-based interactions with appropriate program structure. Check out our new, online program, CDA (Child Development Associate) with CLASS. Basic understanding of the CLASS tool is integrated into course learning experiences, with an emphasis on positive relationships and interactions in early childhood education settings. CDA with CLASS is available at two levels: Pre-K and Infant-Toddler.
Are you heading to InterAct next week? Consider joining me to talk more about structure and process, and CDA with CLASS!
Receive timely updates delivered straight to your inbox.
November is National Family Engagement Month. As educators, we’re often focused on supporting children’s academic, social, and emotional growth in the classroom. But, it’s important to remember that families are a child’s first teacher. This month, we’re celebrating how to take learning home and support families’ opportunities to impact their child’s development and learning through the power of interactions.
As part of your family engagement initiatives this month (and beyond!), consider how you can help families understand and leverage their interactions at home. To help, check out these tips and tricks below that you can share with the families in your early childhood program!
Creating a culture of continuous learning is critical to building educators’ abilities, confidence, and in creating consistency of quality teaching practices. But, this is no easy feat. Time constraints, access to relevant and quality professional development, and lack of learning communities are known barriers and have been found to impact teacher job satisfaction.
The good news is, that despite these challenges, there are opportunities to strengthen staff empowerment and to continue to build educators’ confidence to increase consistency of best practices.
“There’s been a positive wave of changes across the great state of Texas,” concluded Beja Williams, regional director at Teachstone, during Teachstone’s recent webinar, Focusing on Teacher-Child Interactions at Scale: A Look at Texas Rising Stars. “And, we are buckling up for a fun ride.”
Beja joined Darlene Estes, Teachstone’s senior director of strategic partnerships, and Nicole Allen, Child Care Contract Manager, Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County, Texas to talk about the latest changes improving the quality of education across Texas.
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.