Allie Kallmann recently completed her M.A. in Education Policy at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is currently supporting Teachstone's research efforts from her new home in Charlottesville, VA.
Recently, we gathered a panel of social-emotional learning experts on the webinar ‘Supporting the Social-Emotional Needs of Every Child and Every Educator.’ The group included Amanda Alexander, VP of Policy and Partnership Development at Teachstone; Bridget Hamre, Co-Founder and CEO at Teachstone; Gene Pinkard, Aspen Institute Director of Practice and Leadership; and Bloodine Barthelus, Director of Practice Innovations at CASEL. Together, they took us through research on the importance of meaningful connections for children’s academic learning - particularly when those children have experienced trauma. As all of the panelists agreed, when implemented intentionally and systemically, social-emotional learning (SEL) can be a tool to advance equity. (If you haven’t watched it yet, you can see the full recording here.)
How have children’s social and emotional needs changed this year?
That’s one of the major concerns Teachstone has been hearing from leaders and educators across the country. Even before the pandemic, teachers in early childhood settings, elementary school, and beyond had increasingly been paying attention to children’s self-regulation, social skills, and other emotional needs. With so much turmoil and loss, what has shifted? How can educators prepare to support children? And...how can leaders prepare to support their teaching staff?
To tackle these questions, we brought together Amanda Alexander, VP of Policy and Partnership Development at Teachstone; Bridget Hamre, Co-Founder and CEO at Teachstone; Gene Pinkard, Aspen Institute Director of Practice and Leadership; and Bloodine Barthelus, Director of Practice Innovations at CASEL. Our experts shared the principles they think are most important for social-emotional learning, the challenges they’re anticipating, and how thoughtful instructional leaders are rolling out new social-emotional initiatives.
A read-aloud is a powerful tool. In shared reading experiences, young children explore new worlds, hear new vocabulary, build relationships with their caregivers, and start to apply concepts to their own lives. Books, as it turns out, really are magic.
Did you know that over 12 million children in the United States (and more every year!) speak a language other than English at home? While the education workforce does not exactly parallel its students’ demographics, we know that many educators are also multilingual. That’s why Teachstone has resources available in both English and Spanish. All children deserve the individualized support and care that best fosters learning - and so do their caregivers and educators.
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.
As the school year wraps up, teachers, families, and children are ready to soak up some sunny summer days and break from the stress of this wild, unpredictable academic year. Despite everyone’s excitement, though, for many educators, educational leaders, and parents, the concept of “learning loss” is a thundercloud in the middle of that clear blue sky.
On the bright side, many, many young children have survived a pandemic. They have built new skills, developed close relationships with their families, built their self-care skills, and continued along in their developmental progression, among other wins. However, through no fault of their one, many of those children are now behind their anticipated academic growth.
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.
Every state, every district, every school, every teacher faced decisions that they had never anticipated in the last academic year. As the end of the 2020-2021 school year approaches, it’s time to reflect on those decisions, learn from others, and prepare for the fall ahead.