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.
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.
The statistics around exclusionary discipline practices, like suspension or expulsion, are grim. Kids who get kicked out, especially repeatedly, are often already behind academically, become less engaged in school, and are monumentally more likely to drop out of high school. And while exclusionary discipline affects all students, it’s essential to keep in mind that children of color are suspended and expelled at rates disproportionate to their white peers.
Teachstone has been working hard for the past few months to provide you with case studies about various organizations who have transformed their classrooms through the use of the CLASS tool. We hope they help readers like you make informed decisions about some of the products we offer and introduce you to different ways you can impact teacher-student interactions.
Early childhood folks are a special breed. We know how great an impact our work can have (Perry Preschool Program! Abecedarian! Heckman!), and we’re proud of it. At the same time, we’re aware that when children leave our classrooms, we have no control over the rest of their educational experiences. The fadeout effect—when children’s gains from preschool diminish in elementary school—has shown up in several large studies, including the Head Start Impact Study and a randomized control trial in Tennessee.