I'm currently the Director of Community and Credentialing, but I've been with Teachstone since 2010! It's been amazing to work with such a growing and mission-driven organization. Being at an education company has taught me so much about the importance of interactions (in and out of the classroom). I've been lucky enough to serve in a wide variety of teams and roles across Teachstone. Some of my previous experiences include providing customer and affiliate support, writing for the content team, delivering trainings, conducting CLASS observations, managing our products ... and now leading our community work! I can't wait to see the amazing things that will happen when we bring together groups of like-minded individuals who are passionate about impacting child outcomes--and I'm honored to be part of the journey in cultivating a community around this.
When I'm not at Teachstone, you might find me singing Motown hits around campfires, spending time with my nieces and nephews, tasting wine at local vineyards, cooking up something yummy in the kitchen, hiking with my pup, or kayaking a Virginia river with my husband.
Brace yourself. I’m about to bring up a topic that strikes fear in the hearts of thousands of early childhood professionals—the CLASS reliability test! But as the list below demonstrates, it doesn’t have to be so scary.
Test your knowledge by answering fact or fiction to each statement below!
Your trainees arrive to CLASS Observation Trainings with different backgrounds, perspectives, and biases. They may also come with some misunderstandings about the tool. Confusion before CLASS Observation Training is understandable- after all, they don't know the tool yet, and they're probably afraid of that infamous reliability test. It's important for trainers to be aware of common misconceptions and to respond in ways that actually result in deepening trainees' understanding of CLASS. Here are 6 of the most popular CLASS myths and ways you can respond to them:
This year’s annual NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) conference was a whirlwind for me! Scheduled to co-deliver two presentations in one day, I’m sure you can understand why it felt like a blur!
In my last post, I discussed a few misconceptions around strengths-based coaching approaches and borrowed a term coined by the expert coaches on our professional development team here at Teachstone: a “spark” moment. In this post, I’ll interview one of our coaching experts, Rebecca Freedman, to dig into this concept and what it’s all about.
If you regularly read this blog, then you probably already know that at Teachstone, we’re big fans of the “strengths-based” coaching approach. What is strengths-based coaching, you ask? In a nutshell, a strengths-based approach intentionally focuses on the things teachers are already doing well in the classroom and encourages them to build on what is working. Another way to describe strengths-based coaching: it’s the opposite of a deficit model, which focuses on what teachers are not doing or what they are doing wrong.
I spent last weekend on a cabin trip in the mountains with a few family members, including my four-year-old nephew. We planned so many activities (kayaking! board games! frisbee!), but once he got his hands on dad’s iPad, I could barely get a word out of him (let alone entice him with a game of Go Fish). As an aunt, I understand how technology can discourage effective interactions—and sometimes I just want to throw the iPad out the window! But I also know that we have just as much chance of curbing kids’ fascinations with hand-held devices as we do of getting the average adult to turn off their cell phone. Given this reality, I think we need to work with, rather than against, technology by taking advantage of children’s natural curiosity for all things electronic.
A couple weeks back, I came across this story in the Washington Post (and another on Ed Central) that nearly made me spit out my morning coffee. One title asserts, “Billions of Dollars in Annual Teacher Training is Largely a Waste,” and summarizes a study recently released by TNTP, which explores whether teacher improvement could be traced to professional development efforts at scale. But when I consider what I know about the massive umbrella of resources we call “professional development,” I shouldn’t have been so surprised. In fact, when I speak to teachers and administrators, there is often a negative reaction to “traditional” professional development (think: one-off workshops, one-size-fits-all approaches, and deficit-model coaching). This study “found no evidence that any particular approach or amount of professional development helps teachers improve in the classroom.” Which begs the question: If so many teacher improvement efforts are ineffective ... does anything work?
Carmen is an education coordinator mentoring a preschool teacher, Brittany. Through the course of their year working together, Carmen has explained, in detail, the definition of each CLASS dimension, along with some examples of what these behaviors might look like in a classroom. Brittany mostly gets it. Behaviors like “setting clear expectations” are familiar. Maybe she didn’t always call it “CLASS,” but Brittany has seen firsthand how important it is to provide clear behavioral expectations in her three years as a teacher.
Do you ever stop to think whether you are making a difference? We live in a world with so many causes worth fighting for—access to medical treatment, cancer research, affordable housing, civil rights, clean drinking water ... the list goes on. But I can think of few causes that are as critical and worth fighting for than our investment in young children. Because giving children every opportunity to be great drives the future success of just about every worthy initiative out there.