At Teachstone, we are all in on early learning. The research shows us that, with the help of effective educators, there is so much potential to build a strong foundation for children’s learning well before elementary school. But some research, including the Head Start Impact Study and the research on Tennessee’s voluntary pre-K, has complicated the story. Researchers found that in some cases, gains made in early childhood education seemed to fade out by around third grade.
Follow-up research has added to the narrative.
It found that the perceived fadeout doesn’t happen when children continue to have high-quality learning experiences year after year.
That’s among the reasons that Teachstone founder and CEO Bridget Hamre recently authored an article in The Learning Professional, the Learning Forward journal.
In it, she calls for a shared vision across the early grades that can lead to quality and sustained child outcomes.
It may seem obvious that children who more often have excellent teachers are more likely to succeed. What’s less obvious is that the ways we systematically define “excellent” and our instructional priorities vary greatly, even just within the preschool to third-grade continuum.
Recent research cited by our CEO compares the time devoted to different content areas (literacy, math, science) and methods for instruction (whole group, small group, individual work, free play) in pre-K and kindergarten.
The idea that these massive changes take place over just one year of a young child’s life is shocking to consider.
But despite these differences, Dr. Bridget Hamre offers a way forward.
She identifies three components of great teaching in the early years:
Educators and leaders can orient around these shared ideas across age levels with tools like the CLASS®. When they do so, they create the alignment that children need -- that our entire education system needs -- to succeed for the long haul.
The time has come for hard conversations.
That’s the feedback we have been receiving from educators across the country. There are plenty of tough conversations educators are trained, taught, or feel equipped to handle with children and families - gently bringing up a developmental concern, facilitating a disagreement between students, or explaining what happened with the classroom goldfish are all part of a day in the life. But in the last year, since the killing of George Floyd and other Black people at the hands of police, educators are increasingly asking for help in communicating more comfortably with young children about diversity and difference.
We’re still soaking up the wisdom shared by our many, many excellent speakers at the spring 2021 InterAct Summit. From its inception, Teachstone has been an organization based in research. Because the CLASS is reliable and valid, teachers and programs trust it to give meaningful, accurate, and actionable information. To learn more about the current work being done in the field, we invited co-founder Bob Pianta to give an update on new research findings.
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.
Many teachers and leaders associate CLASS® with preschool. And we get it! It’s used in early childhood classrooms across the country, including Head Start programs, and it’s been more important than ever for young children as they begin to return to in-person learning.
But the principles of CLASS - Emotional Support, Classroom Organization, Instructional Support - are important for children well beyond Pre-K. The ever-increasing research base shows that interactions matter for children’s social-emotional and academic development. That’s why CLASS is organized to support children from infancy to high school with the developmentally appropriate interactions that drive learning - and why K-12 leaders are embracing CLASS in their schools.