Long before my time developing online professional development for teachers, in my first year of teaching middle school, I received a gift I would never get again. My principal gave me one day and three rules:
After working with a substitute to get my class rolling, I spent the rest of that day observing veteran teachers. Much of what I learned helped me improve the way I taught in the coming weeks. But the gift was much more than a chance to make these small changes. The real gift was an expanded sense of possibility and new energy to improve.
I saw my future self in veteran teachers. And because I was not the only young teacher observing from class to class, I saw that my team was on a journey to improve their interactions along with me. The three simple rules were both motivation to improve and a method to do so.
But these rules are hard to follow. We break them even as we try to improve, not because we lack determination, but because they are in many ways unrealistic. Still, they’re rules we should abide by, and online PD can help us follow through even when we don’t have a sub in our room.
I spent years breaking these rules. We all do. And while that doesn’t mean we aren’t improving, it might mean that we aren’t improving as much as we’d like to. Online PD is built to help us follow these rules and get better every day. So next time you have a few precious minutes, wherever you are, take a break from work and step into another teacher’s classroom.
Do you have fond childhood memories of sitting with a special adult and listening to them read one of your favorite stories? I vividly remember my dad reading The Elephant’s Child by Rudyard Kipling to me and how we laughed together at the funny voices he used. As an educator, you know how important those moments are for building warm connections, enjoying time together, and learning about many things. So, even if you missed out on those moments as a child, you want to create those moments for the children in your classroom. With careful planning, you can be confident that your read-alouds will be exciting, effective learning opportunities.
The majority of early childhood classrooms have at least one child who is a dual language learner (DLL) and this population is growing. One in three children from birth to age six speak a language besides English at home. Consequently, the majority of teachers need strategies on how to best support this group of students. We reached out to Veronica Fernandez, Developmental Psychologist and Research Scientist at the University of Miami for strategies she’s found most successful.
As part of our Teacher Spotlight series, we recently asked the CLASS Community to nominate a teacher whose high-quality classroom interactions are making a difference for their dual language learners. Our winner, Kim Schoell, has been teaching for 20 years and is currently a Pre-K teacher in Frederick County, VA. 67% of her students are Hispanic and many of the children are dual language learners.
The dysfunctional design flaw that separates systems of caregiving (childcare) from systems of education (public schools), has been laid bare during the pandemic. For instance, rather than experiencing even hybrid moments of normalcy, most children started the school year virtually, because teachers with young children took permissible and understandable leaves to care for their families. Let’s be clear, the lack of teaching staff has contributed to a deficit of meaningful interactions for this country’s children.