I was supposed to be an architect, instead I was a teacher of young children; it felt like my calling.
When I started my coursework, they tasked me with visiting multiple classrooms. It overwhelmed me when in some classrooms, children were crying, teachers were frustrated, and no one seemed to enjoy the day. I thought I had made a mistake. Thankfully, I had a professor who inspired me to continue. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the behaviors I observed in both children and teachers, the professor charged me to uncover the root of those behaviors.
And so, my journey to support social-emotional development began.
In my first year as a lead teacher, a 22-month-old boy cried at drop off. I held him against my heart and could feel how much he loved his family, his home, his toys, the smells of delicious foods, and delightful fragrances. I recognized that now he was in this new environment where nothing was familiar, not even me. I recognized his call for help - to help him accept this place as his by adding elements that would bring home to him.
When a young infant was crying inconsolably, which was rare. We tried holding her, patting her back, checking her diaper, offering her a bottle, and offering her preferred toys. When we uncovered those were not the cause of her distress, we then noticed that her little shoes were on the wrong feet. We switched them, consoled her, narrated the cause of her discomfort, and once again she was her happy, content self.
I vividly recall a preschooler who loved to build structures. We dedicated time to brainstorm and plan his structure, and then he would spend almost an hour building these intricate structures. When it was time to clean up, he would become very upset every single day. I recognized his behavior as his disappointment in needing to break down the structure he just worked so hard to build. There was a different class in the room in the afternoon, so he could not keep them up to return to the next day. To help him manage his distress, we implemented some proactive ideas. We prepared him for clean-up time, invited his mom to come in the room to see the structure and help clean up, and we took a picture to help him preserve the structure, and replicate it the following day.
In 2013-2014, I learned about Trauma Informed Care - the idea of viewing a child’s behavior through the lens of trauma and understanding the cause behind each behavior. Children who have suffered from neglect, any form of abuse, any form of high stress in their young lives, or other traumatic events come to our classrooms screaming: HELP!
When we pause and ask, “What may have happened to this child?”, we may not come to the definitive answer, but it will help us understand that the behavior is likely communicating a need. And often that need is love, safety, and trust.
We know that in order for children to relate to others and to learn, they first need to feel safe and welcomed.
With that in mind, it’s clear to me that in the end, I am that architect I wanted to become. Rather than building homes, I’m an architect of young children’s brains.
The field of education is hard-work, and supporting children’s social-emotional development is even more difficult when we ourselves are experiencing adversity. It’s important to remember to put your oxygen mask on first. Find supports to help you stay connected, recharge, and maintain your own health. To support you on your journey of supporting children’s self-regulation, download our free resource guide that provides strategies for various behavioral cues. I hope you find them helpful in supporting you on your professional development journey.
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Originally published December 22, 2016
Regard for Student Perspectives as defined by CLASS® is“the degree to which the teacher’s interactions with students and classroom activities place an emphasis on students’ interests, motivations, and points of view and encourage student responsibility and autonomy.” This often looks like following children's lead so that you can anticipate their needs during an activity.
Understanding how to effectively employ CLASS's Regard for Student Perspectives while maintaining a constructive learning environment can be challenging. In the following paragraphs the fictional preschool professional, Mrs. Jones, will illustrate the indicators of Regard for Student Perspectives at circle time. I’ll then discuss her exemplary examples:
Strong social-emotional skills are critical for student success in school and later in life. To that end, schools across the United States are implementing universal school based social-emotional learning programs (USB SEL). A wealth of research has examined the impact of such programs on students. However, little is known about how these interventions affect racially minoritized students and students with disabilities, as they have often been excluded from analyses.
We were excited to come across this study that reviews the literature on this topic and even more excited when the lead author, Dr. Christine Cipriano from Yale Medical Center, agreed to answer some of our questions about her work!
Feel intimidated by the idea of advocacy? Many do. Our guest on today's episode of Teaching with CLASS, Jake Stewart, explains the importance of using your voice to make change & easy ways to take action. Whether you're talking to Members of Congress, creating a TikTok, or simply talking to a family member, your voice as an educator matters.
The CLASS® tool’s Instructional Learning Format (ILF) dimension refers to the ways educators enhance engagement. We all know students who are engaged in school regardless of who their teacher is just simply because that is who they are. But, this dimension examines the ways in which educators expand involvement by using a variety of modalities, strategies, and providing hands-on opportunities. This dimension is not about the actual learning that may or may not take place, but rather the “hooks” and methods an educator uses to “set the stage” for learning.