The science is in on New Year’s resolutions. According to a recent article by Bob Sulilvan in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, about half of us will resolve to change something in 2016, and about half of those resolvers will have given up by Valentine’s Day (that makes sense to me, I mean, the chocolate alone!). In spite of those odds, I love a good couple of New Year’s resolutions. Setting meaningful CLASS goals for the rest of your school or program year don’t have to be overwhelming, in fact, the simpler the better!
To avoid that February burn out, “pick small, specific goals and stick to them. As professional athletes often say, take care of the little things and the results will take care of themselves” (Sullivan, 2016). And what better way to make a true impact in the classroom than to pick one goal from each CLASS domain? Even better, how about resolutions that support each other and work together? We know from research that small improvements in CLASS scores can have meaningful impacts on children’s outcomes. So let’s get this New Year’s Resolutions Party started!
The Pre-K CLASS tool has three domains; Emotional Support (ES) which looks at what teachers do to support children’s social and emotional functioning in the classroom; Classroom Organization (CO) looks at how teachers manage children’s time, attention, and behavior in the classroom; and Instructional Support (IS) which looks at how teachers promote higher order thinking skills and language. Let’s set three goals, one per domain. Not just any goals—but goals that support one another across domains:
The Toddler CLASS tool has two domains. Emotional and Behavioral Support (EBS) considers what teachers do to provide social and emotional supports that promote all areas of development and manage children’s behavior, time, and attention in the classroom. And Engaged Support for Learning (ESL) refers to what teachers do to promote cognitive and language development. Again, let's set two goals—one per domain—that support one another across domains.
The Infant CLASS tool has one domain, Responsive Caregiving (RC), which encompasses what teachers do to provide social emotional supports, encourage children’s engagement and development, and how they support language development. Let’s set one goal to support our Infant CLASS efforts.
No matter what age group you work with, I hope these simple goals will support your CLASS journey through 2016, and beyond! Try not to worry about setbacks; making change is always a work in progress. Do be kind to yourself, as “Gretchen Rubin, author of Better than Before and The Happiness Project, makes the point that people who treat themselves (and others) with sympathy have an easier time picking themselves up after a fall” (Sullivan, 2016).
The time has come for hard conversations.
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.
I was supposed to be an architect, instead I was a teacher of young children; it felt like my calling.
When I started my coursework, they tasked me with visiting multiple classrooms. It overwhelmed me when in some classrooms, children were crying, teachers were frustrated, and no one seemed to enjoy the day. I thought I had made a mistake. Thankfully, I had a professor who inspired me to continue. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the behaviors I observed in both children and teachers, the professor charged me to uncover the root of those behaviors.
And so, my journey to support social-emotional development began.
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.
Follow-up research has added to the narrative.