We are excited to have Sara Beach guest blog for us today. As a former Teachstone Staff Trainer, she frequently presented on topics such as Helping Teachers with the Instructional Supports, through active, adult-learning approaches. She has been an Infant-toddler teacher, center director, education specialist, coach-mentor, and early childhood college instructor, and her highest honor has been supporting teachers.
In order to be aware of and make the most of the interactions you have with your students, you have to be able to be to be “in the moment” with them in the classroom. A recent NAEYC-published book entitled Powerful Interactions suggests that in order for teachers to extend children’s learning, we must first “be present” with children. This means being aware enough of our own thoughts and emotions that we are able to adjust them and tune into the child’s immediate thoughts, needs, and emotions.
This is no easy task, especially during busy classroom activities. In order to stay in the moment, teachers have to purposefully set aside thoughts about a) what just happened; b) what happened yesterday or this morning; c) what we have to do next; d) how we need to prepare for later; and e) we they feel about XYZ.
Here are some strategies for helping you stay present.
1. Consciously identify your own state and that of the child.
2. Identify your goals and those of the child.
3. Recognize disparities between your own goals and those of the child or children to quickly adjust.
4. Identify when children become disengaged and employ strategies to re-engage them.
5. Pay attention to what a child may be thinking and follow the child’s cues.
6. Adjust your feedback as needed to help shape the child’s thinking and understanding:
Reflecting on what other teachers are doing in the moment can help inspire you to reflect on your own practices. A great place to start for help with the observation and reflection process is the CLASS Video Library and the CLASS Discussion Toolkit. Utilizing video to capture, reflect on, and utilize your own moment-to-moment interactions is a key component of the highly successful MyTeachingPartner™ (MTP™) coaching model. We've found that if can watch yourself on tape and analyze your interactions using the lens of the CLASS, you start to become more intentional about engaging in the specific CLASS indicators and behavioral markers.
We invite you to share about your experiences with the CLASS Discussion Toolkit or MTP coaching, and any other methods you have found successful for becoming more “present” in teaching moments. For more tips to share with teachers, please join us at an upcoming ISS training. I'll be in Boston, MA, in March, and Scottsdale, AZ, in April and would love to see you there!
Powerful Interactions: How to Connect With Children to Extend Their Learning, by A.L. Dombro, J. Jablon, and C. Stetson, 160 pp. 2011. Copyright © National Association for the Education of Young Children.
In construction, a scaffold is a temporary structure used by workers to access heights and areas that are hard to get to. This is exactly what educators are doing when they scaffold for students. A student is having a hard time reaching a new height—understanding a concept, answering a question, or completing an activity—and the teacher provides just enough support to allow the student to succeed.
Children love playing shadow tag, catching and stepping on each other’s shadows. We teachers need to keep an eye on our shadows too ... metaphorically speaking, that is. We’re big in children’s eyes, and we have a lot of power over how they spend their day. If we slip into taking over their explorations and answering our own questions, we subtly let children know that their ideas and interests aren’t as important as ours. But if we want our children to develop independence and feel engaged in our classroom, then we have to show we value their ideas and support their independence.
It’s been a great year. You have just conducted some professional development trainings for the group of teachers you are coaching. You got the opportunity to visit their classrooms and see them in action, do formal and informal CLASS observations, and had countless coaching conversations. You see that it’s all beginning to click. You have the teachers’ buy-in, and the motivation is high.