I was happy to have the opportunity recently to speak with close to 100 ACCESS group members at the NAEYC PDI conference in Minneapolis on June 9th. The Associate Degree Early Childhood Teacher Educators–ACCESS to Shared Knowledge and Practice, known as ACCESS, is a national, non-profit group whose purpose is to support and advocate for associate degree programs in the preparation of early childhood professionals.
I learned about the group through two contacts in my home state of North Carolina: Brenda Blackburn at Blue Ridge Community College and Sharon Carter at Davidson Community College, both leaders in their field and in ACCESS. Brenda and Sharon are also advocates for the use of the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) in higher education. I was pleasantly surprised by how many college instructors in the room already knew about the CLASS and how many had been through Pre-K Observation training!
Teachstone has also been exploring how to use the CLASS tool and other CLASS-based products in teacher education programs and recently created “student bundles” of Dimensions Guides and Video Library accounts with discounted prices for students. While this is a good start, we wanted to hear more from Early Childhood instructors in the field about what they need from us.
At the ACCESS meeting, we discussed the importance of educating student teachers about effective teacher-child interactions and how they impact children’s learning and development. We are all committed to starting new teachers out in their careers with knowledge of the most current research and effective practices for success. This knowledge can be embedded in existing curriculum and field experiences for student teachers. Three ways this can be done are by providing:
Instructors attending the session also gave Teachstone much to think about with their suggestions to provide additional videos for student use showing less effective moments or non-examples along with exemplars. Students can learn a lot by noting and discussing missed opportunities as well as stellar interactions. Others suggested creating a Student Manual with more detail about each dimension and more examples of how to integrate effective interactions around each dimension into their classrooms.
Since 2018, over 10,000 educators and counting have enrolled in a CDA with CLASS® program. That’s a milestone in and of itself. But when you zoom out, it means that tens of thousands of children are now cared for by these professionals. And, when you think of the number of meaningful, high-quality interactions that happen each and every day? It’s not unreasonable to think that there are a hundred thousand or more brain-building moments that happen daily because learners have enrolled in a CDA with CLASS program.
In our webinar, "Interactions at the Core: The Life-Changing Power of Interactions In Any Setting" leaders from across early childhood settings came together to discuss how we can continue to build and foster relationships, enhance engagement, and inspire learning in this moment.
Do you have fond childhood memories of sitting with a special adult and listening to them read one of your favorite stories? I vividly remember my dad reading The Elephant’s Child by Rudyard Kipling to me and how we laughed together at the funny voices he used. As an educator, you know how important those moments are for building warm connections, enjoying time together, and learning about many things. So, even if you missed out on those moments as a child, you want to create those moments for the children in your classroom. With careful planning, you can be confident that your read-alouds will be exciting, effective learning opportunities.
Whether you are writing your transition plan, preparing to return, or have already returned to in-person learning, you, like many other educational leaders, are likely facing many challenges and unknowns.
As you continue to craft and refine your plans, reflecting on the considerations below can help you more effectively build a blueprint for a successful reopening.