Last week we hosted Back to School with Meaningful Interactions, our first week-long free Teacher Series for nearly 4,000 early childhood educators. Each day attendees could choose from three 45-minute sessions that focused on what matters the most—meaningful classroom interactions.
After a year of school closures, virtual learning, and social distancing, this event focused on easing the transition back to school by building relationships, being responsive, creating routines, and engaging with families. Each session offered concrete ways educators can prioritize their children’s social and emotional development as they start the new school year.
Things are still feeling uncertain, but we’re more prepared this year. As we enter this school year acknowledging the trauma experienced by children and families, we can use that knowledge to help prioritize children’s social and emotional learning and development. Although trauma can affect student behavior, one important way for educators to combat these negative impacts is to cultivate meaningful connections with each student. In the session, Building Connections at Center Time, Tara Scott shared a few other ways teachers can promote relationships with children and their peers.
This focus on relationships and routines is effective across age levels. As we establish predictable and consistent routines, toddlers also gain a sense of security and self-confidence.
Ongoing COVID-19 safety measures might mean families can no longer come into classrooms, join activities, or observe the classroom. This can make it challenging to keep them involved and knowing how best to support their children. In the session, Family Engagement and Connection, Joanna Parker shared a few strategies for keeping families feeling connected despite ongoing changes.
And as plans likely continue to change, it’s best to be transparent with families as you partner with them in a culture of continuous quality improvement.
And finally, let's not forget to take a step back and celebrate the successes. Teachers have become more creative, flexible, and resilient than ever. Each session was a celebration of the meaningful impact teachers make and a reminder to each educator that you are not alone!
As attendees shared ideas, questions, and celebrations with one another, the incredible power of a support network was clear! As you continue to have questions or want to connect with others facing similar challenges, we encourage you to participate in our CLASS Learning Community. It’s free and open to all.
Receive timely updates delivered straight to your inbox.
When I was a teacher, I can remember taking care to intentionally plan differentiated, or individualized, instruction. And, when I was teaching pre-K I added the same level of intentionality to which materials were available in interest areas, and how I approached transitions throughout the day.
While any level of intentionally, specifically in relation to planning, is important -- I missed a critical opportunity in being more intentional in my interactions with the children in my class.
There is always an opportunity for interaction. Some opportunities are easily recognizable: times of play, free choice, centers, small group. We often see teachers engaged in activities alongside children during these times or hear questions being asked. Other opportunities might be a little less obvious. These are the times of your day that you might see as mundane moments that merely require your supervision or monitoring. The times where you’re going through the motions. “I’m doing this thing so I can move on to the next thing.”
In a previous blog, colleague and early childhood environment extraordinaire, Heather Sason, discussed how your classroom environment can help promote effective teacher-child interactions. In this blog, I propose we explore some of the often overlooked times in your day that are ripe for interactions with children and that do promote exploration, learning, and development!
It's not uncommon for teachers in early education to need to strike a balance between following children's leads and sticking to the classroom schedule. We know that intentional teachers are aware of their responsibility to assess student progress, understand skill mastery, and plan accordingly to provide opportunities for children to grow. However, many times, as teachers begin a specific teacher-directed activity, it is unsettling when students begin to veer from the step-by-step plans the teacher has worked hard to implement.
Teacher and coach, Colleen Schmit, will share how teachers can strike the balance between following the lesson plans and giving children freedom of choice and flexibility in the classroom.
We’re more than a month into the school year, and many educators and school leaders are feeling tired or burnt out already. That’s normal in any school year, as the newness of back-to-school wanes and the reality of a long year ahead kicks in. But, this year, that tiredness may feel like it has never felt before. Chalkbeat has reported that teacher vacancies are up in 18 of 20 large school districts, and it’s not surprising. Many are exhausted after a difficult year and a half (to put it mildly!). Many are also leaving the profession in droves to find work in competitive environments that provide a substantially larger salary.