Power to the Profession!
Powerful words from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), right? NAEYC describes their initiative as: "a national collaboration to define the early childhood profession by establishing a unifying framework for career pathways, knowledge, and competencies, qualifications, standards, and compensation."
At Teachstone, we spend a lot of time thinking about what these words mean to us as an organization, and specifically to our mission of making sure every child has access to life-changing teachers. By supporting and empowering teachers, we work towards our goal of supporting and empowering children.
So we’re curious - what do you think about when you hear “Power to the Profession?” What should happen to make sure teachers are confident… valued…. skilled… rewarded? What matters most in the process of empowering life-changing teachers?
One thing we know for sure matters is effective professional development for teachers. To understand the key ingredients of powerful PD, we turn to experts in the field, like Linda Darling-Hammond and colleagues at Standford and the Learning Policy Institute, who describe how effective PD includes:
These principles drive the development of all of our tools and methodologies at Teachstone. To support life-changing teachers, we do our best to make sure our materials are reliable, engaging, trustworthy, and grounded in best practices.
That’s step 1.
The next step is the incredibly difficult process of adapting tools and methods to unique contexts and stages of teacher development. We all know you can’t just plop a coaching model onto an existing system without a lot of careful thought about how to leverage and protect internal resources to make the model work. Planning matters. Context matters. And teacher stage of development matters - what works with teachers who have been in the field for years, won’t work as well for teachers who are brand new to the classroom.
One partner we follow closely in this space is Deans for Impact, which is a group that is committed to bringing power to the newest professionals. Lead teacher preparation programs across the country collaborate to share and grow research-based tools and resources to ensure more teachers are consistently ready for the classroom on day 1.
To achieve their mission that “every child deserves a well-prepared teacher,” Deans for Impact:
This year’s InterAct theme in Nashville next week gets right at the heart of these core issues:
How do we together build, nurture, and sustain a talented workforce that has the power to make a difference in children’s lives?
A few of the related sessions we’re looking forward to exchanging ideas with you include:
You’ll also get a chance to learn more about our new release, CDA Renewal with CLASS which is now open for enrollment! This is the only CDA program that is based on a CLASS lens, and focused on skills and strategies that boost interactions, the most critical component of teaching quality.
Can’t join us at Interact this year? We’ll miss you but know that this theme is going to carry through our work in many different ways via webinars, blogs, and other professional resources. The best way to contribute to this important - and ongoing - conversation is by joining the CLASS Learning Community. There you can connect, ask questions, access resources, attend events, and highlight your credentials. You’ll also find links to recordings of various sessions and keynotes held in Nashville. We look forward to interacting with you online!
Can we talk about structure? When CLASS entered my life, I was 20 years into my career in the field of early childhood education. What I remember most about that initial training, besides the nervousness about an impending reliability test, was a sense of relief. Structure, including State and program standards, curriculum, materials in the classroom, and approaches to childcare and pedagogy, had dominated my working hours. CLASS was a lot to learn, but for me, it was a breath of fresh air. Observing with CLASS meant I could set aside my obsession with all things structural – which dominated my thoughts every time I walked into an early childhood classroom.
On a hot summer day in July 2016, I had the good fortune of being the one not on vacation on our small policy and research team. Instead, I went to DC to serve as Teachstone’s representative for a convening of policymakers, researchers, and ECE practitioners. They were gathering to discuss if and how exemplary Head Start grantees might be identified for Leading by Exemplar, an initiative funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and led by Bellwether Education Partners.
Decades of evidence indicate that high-quality early childhood education positively affects children. Yet studies reveal that too few programs implement high-quality programming. To date, improvement efforts have primarily focused on what occurs within the classroom. The Ounce of Prevention Fund (Ounce), in partnership with the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research (UChicago Consortium), strives to broaden the focus of improvement efforts beyond the classroom to organizational conditions that support teachers and the relationships among staff, children, and families.
If you’ve been following the news lately, a lot is going on in North Carolina for young children and families! Leaders across the state—from businesses to state government to county municipalities—are leveraging partnerships that use research-based assessment and professional development models (like CLASS) to guarantee more of the state’s youngest residents have access to the high quality care they need and deserve.