A SUCCESS STORY:
Georgia DECAL is a bit of a hero around these parts. When we talk about states and programs that have successfully implemented CLASS, DECAL inevitably comes up. We talk about its thoughtful roll out of CLASS, how it ensured buy in from all parties, and more broadly, about the state’s leadership in early childhood education with the nation’s first state-funded universal pre-K program in 1995. DECAL’s Pre-K Professional Development Evaluation Report that came out earlier this year speaks to a lot of these incredible details.
What we don’t often get to see or hear are the men and women behind the DECAL curtain. Over the past few months, I had the opportunity to interview three key players about DECAL’s CLASS implementation and find out what really happened behind the scenes. Susan Adams, the Assistant Commissioner for Pre-K and Instructional Support explained how CLASS came to be a part of DECAL’s DNA. Bentley Ponder, Director of Research and Evaluation spoke about how the state came to receive its Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant (and the party he had to sacrifice to make it happen). And Pam Bojo, Director of Field Operations (aka Director of Getting Stuff Done) humbly talked about how she brought all the big ideas to life in the programs and with staff.
WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY ABOUT CLASS:Pam and I had a chance to catch up earlier this year in person, and the short clip below illustrates how CLASS had a meaningful impact both in the classroom and on the DECAL organization more broadly. I had so much fun learning about the people who actually made this happen that I wanted to share a little bit of that with you. I hope you enjoy the video and take the time to read Georgia’s CLASS story.
"We have seen a change in all of us—myself included—in the way that we communicate with each other." - Pam Bojo on implementing the CLASS tool.
At Teachstone, we talk to a lot of educators. From coast to coast and around the globe, there’s a common thread that unites them: wanting to be better for their students.
Even when things are tough in education, even in years made even more challenging by the pandemic and its effects on teaching and learning, educators are striving to be their best. That dedication to equitable, ongoing development is what inspires Teachstone’s work. To reach the day when all children are afforded excellent education and care, it’s going to take a systematic, data-driven approach, and we are enthusiastic partners in getting there.
Shared physical presence is a large part of how we’re used to connecting with each other. Strong connections and relationships are important for children who may have recently experienced loss, high stress, or trauma. As teachers connect with children in a virtual setting, it can be more challenging to think about how to create a safe space for learning, sharing experiences, and taking risks.
There’s no sugar coating it - the 2020-21 school year was tough. Teachers, schools, and child care workers shouldered a massive burden, taking work that was already challenging and turning the difficulty up to 11. Well, maybe 12 or 13. Or 15. Who’s counting?
So, as you, educators, prepare for the upcoming school year, Teachstone wanted to recognize all the creativity, flexibility, and impact that teachers have demonstrated. We brought together Teachstone’s Kristin Valdes, Senior Instructional Designer, and Colleen Schmit, CDA Facilitator, in a recent webinar to celebrate the great and important work of teachers and to explore how the smallest moments make big impacts.
Here’s what our hosts shared with and heard from participants.