On Wednesday, September 23, the Office of Head Start (OHS) announced that it will be suspending CLASS reviews for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021. We sincerely hope this news relieves some of the stress our Head Start partners have felt as they grapple with new challenges related to pandemic conditions.
It is also our hope that programs will use this time to provide specific CLASS support to staff in order to strengthen interactions, regardless of the delivery model in which they are serving children.
Interactions between Head Start staff and children are more important than ever. CLASS® reviews have been temporarily paused, allowing programs the space to navigate these unique circumstances and deliver great interactions.
But, now is not a time to let quality slip. It’s critical that we continue pursuing life-changing interactions for children as they need extra support and comfort at this time. And, many children will need help processing and recovering from trauma.
While monitoring might not be happening from OHS in a formal way, we encourage programs to continue using CLASS as it has always been intended - as the best tool for understanding the quality of teacher-child interactions in order to improve them. Only with that understanding can you assign highly-targeted professional development to the areas where teachers need help the most.
We’ve published guidance and resources to help educators collect CLASS data in a wide variety of settings such as virtual classrooms and in-person classrooms with social-distancing practices. These guides give examples of how to continue collecting CLASS data even given the extenuating circumstances we face today. And, because interactions look different, we’ve published resources to help coaches effectively guide their teachers in these new circumstances.
Teacher turnover is a significant challenge faced by our Head Start partners. A study from the National Head Start Association last year showed that teacher turnover rates were over 30% in some states. This year, we expect that even more teachers are new to Head Start.
We encourage programs to view this as an opportunity to help those new teachers understand what great teaching looks like. This is a great time to certify them with a CDA program that includes CLASS best practices or to equip them with foundational CLASS understanding and skills through online trainings.
Head Start programs support our most vulnerable children. We are proud to empower those programs with the tools and resources they need to do so successfully.
Whether you are a Head Start administrator, coach, observer, or work directly with children, you play an important role in the lives of children in your care. You're likely feeling the pressure to meet the increased needs of those children. We are here to help you provide high-quality, meaningful interactions that comfort, support and engage children.
Let’s have a conversation and see how we can help.
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There is always an opportunity for interaction. Some opportunities are easily recognizable: times of play, free choice, centers, small group. We often see teachers engaged in activities alongside children during these times or hear questions being asked. Other opportunities might be a little less obvious. These are the times of your day that you might see as mundane moments that merely require your supervision or monitoring. The times where you’re going through the motions. “I’m doing this thing so I can move on to the next thing.”
In a previous blog, colleague and early childhood environment extraordinaire, Heather Sason, discussed how your classroom environment can help promote effective teacher-child interactions. In this blog, I propose we explore some of the often overlooked times in your day that are ripe for interactions with children and that do promote exploration, learning, and development!
It's not uncommon for teachers in early education to need to strike a balance between following children's leads and sticking to the classroom schedule. We know that intentional teachers are aware of their responsibility to assess student progress, understand skill mastery, and plan accordingly to provide opportunities for children to grow. However, many times, as teachers begin a specific teacher-directed activity, it is unsettling when students begin to veer from the step-by-step plans the teacher has worked hard to implement.
Teacher and coach, Colleen Schmit, will share how teachers can strike the balance between following the lesson plans and giving children freedom of choice and flexibility in the classroom.
As an educator, you’re busy. Your time is being split by competing priorities, from managing students’ needs, meeting your program’s goals, and communicating with parents. While you’re juggling your work, it can be difficult to keep learning about important ways to improve your daily teaching practice. Teachstone is here to help!