Twenty-five years ago, quality teaching in early childhood classrooms meant providing a safe place for children to play, with stimulating materials and books to read. Today, we have provided those basics in most early childhood classrooms, and our focus has shifted to the hows of quality—how teachers interact with children, how they use time and materials to get the most out of every moment, and how they ensure that children are engaged and stimulated.
Imagine two classrooms down the hall from each other, both with high-quality resources and materials. In the classroom with more effective interactions, the teachers are actively engaged with the children—being a "challenging customer" in the children’s pretend restaurant, encouraging children in the paint area to experiment with mixing colors, and helping a child brainstorm what to do while waiting for his turn on the computer. The children respond with deep engagement and eagerness to contribute their own ideas, and these everyday activities challenge them to engage in social problem solving, create and test hypotheses about the physical world, and learn to regulate their behavior.
In the less effective classroom, the teachers sit close to the children but take a less active role. Children are comfortable involving them in play, but the teachers miss opportunities to take interactions deeper. Some children pull basket after basket off the shelves, playing with each activity for a minute or two before moving on to the next. Others hover at the edges, not sure what to do. In between brief conversations with children, the teachers discuss their plans for the rest of the school day. The children are safe and comfortable but do not stay engaged with activities for long and seem to wander from one thing to the next.
Teachers face enormous distractions with paperwork, routine care, and packed schedules. But some teachers manage to cut through these distractions to truly connect with children, and research shows that these teachers have significant and lasting effects on outcomes. The Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) observation measures were developed to make effective teacher-child interactions objective and measurable. The CLASS framework also serves as a roadmap for improving interactions by defining in detail interactions that matter most for children.
For more on the research about effective teaching, check out our new Research Summary. And be sure to share your thoughts about effective teaching in the comments!
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Setting up a classroom for a new school year can be exciting! It’s hard not to get excited at the prospect of a fresh start. But that doesn’t mean you always know what’s best to do. How do you set up the classroom to facilitate a successful year?
In today’s episode, you’ll hear from Alisha Saunders-Wilson, a Teachstone CLASS® Specialist who has experience coaching other teachers in many things, including setting up classrooms. Listen in as she and Kate discuss Classroom Organization, Behavior Management, what materials to put out and when to rotate them, and what to do when materials are sparse.
As you know, CLASS® is a tool that captures teacher-student interactions. When it comes to the dimension Concept Development, the focus is on the method the teacher uses to provide instruction in the classroom. While the interactions are what get measured with CLASS, as a teacher you can plan for Concept Development to be more intentionally woven throughout your lessons.
Let’s look closer at how to do this.
In this episode of Impacting the Classroom, our host Marnetta Larrimer talks to Dr. Daryl Greenfield of the University of Miami and Teachstone's own Veronica Fernandez. They discuss research on the importance of science in early education and how opportunities to explore the wonder of science with children are everywhere--even if you are not a scientist yourself.
Our guests had so much to share that we didn't have time to fit it all in one episode! You can read the extended version of the podcast in the transcript below.
Dr. Greenfield passed on a number of resources for educators, administrators, and parents interested in learning more about science education in the early years. You can check them out here:
When I started teaching four years ago, I was one of a handful of new teachers in a small school that experienced high teacher turnover. We new teachers had to figure it out as we went along but were lucky to have a handful of veteran teachers for support. I remember more experienced educators telling me that most teachers don’t really feel like they have it together until year three, and that year four is really when the magic happens.