While preparing for a recent presentation on "My CLASS Philosophy," I had many thoughts running through my head. There was no firm agenda that I was asked to follow, just to share my philosophy. Coming from a business background, I did what I have been trained to do—a SWOT Analysis. According to Wikipedia, a SWOT Analysis or SWOT matrix is:
A strategic planning technique used to help a person or organization identify the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats related to business competition or project planning. It is intended to specify the objectives of the business venture or project and identify the internal and external factors that are favorable and unfavorable to achieving those objectives.
In order to generate the meaningful information for each category, I used some parallel processes and began a brainstorming activity. I listed anything and everything that I could think of when it came to myself, my business, the childcare industry, and CLASS. Below is the SWOT Analysis that I developed:
In order to identify my strengths, as previously mentioned, I did a brainstorm analysis and quickly identified that two of the ways in which I am able to do what I do (wear the many hats I wear) is by staying organized and having an innate drive to deliver the best.
The same can be said for my list of opportunities. When I detail out what opportunities exist within my work, it helps me define goals and develop an organized vision to accomplish.
In Louisiana, we use a similar tool after CLASS observations, allowing us to share the teachers' strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for growth. This has been an incredibly useful tool for me both personally and professionally. I encourage everyone to take advantage of this technique!
Paula Polito is the owner/director of a child care center in the Greater New Orleans area. She currently serves as the chair of the Early Childhood Advisory Board for the Louisiana Department of Education, education chair for the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, and is on the Core Leadership team for the Jefferson Parish Early Childhood Collaborative. Paula also is a member of the CLASS Community Advisory Board.
Recently, I wrote about research showing us just how few children experience even “good enough” teaching from kindergarten to third grade. Only 4% of children in rural areas of North Carolina and Pennsylvania had access to good enough teaching during these critical early years and over 50% only experienced good enough teaching for 1 year or less.
Since I joined Teachstone as Chief Impact Officer a few months ago, I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about opportunity gaps in education. In a great op-ed from 2013, Prudence Carter and Kevin Welner, co-editors of Closing the Opportunity Gap: What America Must Do to Give Every Child an Even Chance, wrote:
The violence of the past days has reminded us all that we must be vigilant in denouncing hate and speaking out against it. I encourage everyone who cares about our courageous country and experiment in democracy to get out and vote on November 6th! Paraphrasing from an editorial in the Hartford Courant today, the strength of our united character is being put to the test. We must speak up, and no better way to do so than voting or encouraging others to do so. Truly great educators are those who never give up. I am not ready to give up on our country as a land that holds such great promise of freedom and justice for all, beginning with our youngest ones who cannot vote but will live in the world we are creating with every action or inaction.
Take heart! For too long, one of the least heartening perspectives on the federal government budget came from early childhood education advocates, who, year in and year out, felt left out of the political dialogue during budget talks. They were either ignored or, worse, the recipients of unwanted attention as federal spending on education was slashed or level-funded as costs increased. However, during a time when we see much division in our country, especially coming out of Washington, D.C., it actually is a bit –just a bit – encouraging to look at early childhood education programs which are garnering more and more bipartisan support.