As a former teacher, teacher leader, and teacher educator, I understand at my core the tremendous impact that a high-quality teacher can have on the lives of children and their families. But, I also know the deep feelings of frustration we often feel as teachers and leaders when we just cannot figure out to connect with, how to motivate, how to engage with those children within our classrooms that we are desperately trying to reach but just fail to figure out.
One of my first teaching jobs was in a Head Start program in central Virginia. I was focused on including children with language delays, behavioral needs, and autism into our rural program. I remember always feeling that there were not enough hours in the day to ensure the teachers, teaching assistants, family service workers, and even bus drivers had the professional development and support they needed to feel confident in meeting the diverse learning needs of the children in our classrooms.
I would try to fit in quick trainings before school and during in-service days—when the school system was nice enough to excuse us from the mandatory Word Study for Middle Schoolers training—but those one-stop trainings did not have impact that I wanted due to a lack of: time, intensity, follow up, and coaching for the teachers.
At Teachstone, we believe that to truly change lives, programs must establish and implement systematic professional development programs including providing research-based, intensive coaching. We are so excited to see this intensive professional development called out in the new Head Start Performance Standards and look forward to working with the field to ensure effective coaching becomes the new reality in all Head Start programs to truly support teachers in meeting the learning needs of all children.
We know that by providing a targeted professional development program for teachers and teaching assistants together (that includes training sessions, ongoing, intensive coaching sessions, and in-classroom support), that we could make a difference in the lives of children and families—all while reducing the stress level of teachers and increasing classroom quality at the same time.
To this end, Teachstone has reviewed the Head Start Performance Standards and has created an alignment of the professional development portions of the Standards and how we can help with the implementation.
Please join us our free webinar Wednesday, October 26 at 2:00 p.m. ET.
As a CDA with CLASS facilitator, I now recognize that CLASS also helps us think about how we can be present and responsive in supporting the curiosity, engagement, and persistence of adult learners.
I am blessed to be able to support CDA learners, many of whom are returning to formal education for the first time in many years. Some of these learners come from previous educational experiences that were not supportive, that left them feeling that they weren’t good at school or weren’t competent students. But with the right support, these learners can grow their persistence as well as their sense of competence and confidence.
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.
At Teachstone our mission is to help every child reach their full potential by measuring and improving the interactions that matter most. For the last decade our measurement tool, the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) has been used in the Office of Head Start’s (OHS) Designation Renewal System (DRS). The use of CLASS in the DRS has helped to drive important improvements in children’s classroom experiences—but we are incredibly excited by recent changes to the DRS rules that will enhance the use of CLASS not just as a measure, but as a tool to support teachers and leaders as they work to improve quality—ensuring that every child in their program has access to the powerful teacher-child interactions that drive development and learning.
CLASS allows us to quantify the quality of teacher-child interactions—and that is a powerful thing. But improving child outcomes takes more than just data collection; it’s what you do with the data that really matters.
Here are 4 things you should know about using data to improve student outcomes.