A year ago, urged on by my insightful new colleague, Manda Klein, who was born and raised in Texas, I wrote a blog entitled, At Our Core. It praised the bipartisan efforts to discontinue the practice of separating children from their parents and caregivers at our country’s borders.
I wanted to publicize how we came together as a country in a unified national response to say no to this practice. A practice that disregarded children’s fundamental needs and flew in the face of our core beliefs at Teachstone, with our mission of ensuring effective interactions and relationships between children and adults.
Then, fast forward to yesterday, when I was in a meeting discussing a common definition of quality early childhood care and education and blithely agreed that baseline health and safety did not need to be included – too basic, I thought! We needed to raise the bar and elevate the conversation on quality, and in 2019 in the USA, essential health and safety standards should be in place and might distract from the core messages around interactions, teacher compensation and support, family engagement, leadership support, etc.
Then, today hit. I read the Inspector General’s report on conditions at the border. I read Save the Children’s and NAEYC’s powerful statements. Basic health and safety needs of children were once again front and center in my mind (and clearly not every child has access to them). I checked in with my moral compass, my elderly dad, who reminded me of all that he has seen in his lifetime, and who told me he could not believe the conditions in which we are holding children in the USA, today, in 2019. And, he said to me, there is work to do – there are resources to do it. And, I spoke to Manda, who again said, this is too close to home for me, living in Texas. But, in reality, it is too close to home for all of us, and much too close to our Teachstone home where we hold the care and nurturing of children to be sacred.
Please join us and our partners (see this comprehensive list of organizations working on immigration issues affecting children and families) in urging changes to how children and families are treated on our borders.
As the former Vice President of Education and Program Operations, as well as the Head Start/Early Head Start Program Director, of a large Chicago Agency, I am often asked the question, “How did you get your CLASS scores to rise so much?” Our Pre-K Instructional Support scores rose from a 2.65 to a 3.74 the first year, and from a 3.74 to a 4.17 the second year. It wasn’t an easy process. And it was up to us to show our teachers the importance of teacher-student interactions and slowly introduce how CLASS scores could be used to improve these interactions.
Below are three steps we took to introduce the importance of CLASS and interactions to our teachers and, ultimately, raise our CLASS scores.
When my first child was born, I was 30. I was also married, had a master’s degree, and taught in a district that paid pretty well. During my pregnancy, I learned what to look for in high-quality child care and I thought I knew how to find it. What I didn’t know was that even though my husband and I both worked, we couldn’t afford quality child care.
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.