What’s so great about being a preschool teacher? A lot, actually. Working with kids can be an enormously rich, rewarding experience, one that’s regularly sprinkled with “I can’t believe I get paid to do this!” moments.
Like the moment a child hands you a picture they’ve drawn for you of you.
Like the moment a child’s face lights up when you start singing their favorite song.
Like that moment when you’ve engaged all the kids in an activity that brings glee (sheer glee!) into the classroom.
How many other professions include daily helpings of glee?
But being a preschool teacher is not without its downsides. The demands on preschool teachers—from children, parents, and administration—can feel impossibly high, and the stress can be intense, often even overwhelming.
Preschool teachers also experience a surprising amount of isolation in their profession. They’re surrounded by people all day (tiny ones prone to meltdowns and random bouts of “the sillies"), but the day in the life of a preschool teacher does not often include time to collaborate—or even check in—with their grown-up colleagues.
Combine this multi-directional stress with professional isolation, and it’s no wonder that there’s an alarmingly high turnover rate for preschool teachers. That’s where group participation in professional development can really make a difference.
More and more professional development programs include some form of group participation, leaning on group learning activities, teacher study groups, or professional learning communities to connect teachers in shared learning goals. By giving teachers the opportunity to learn with their colleagues and hold each other accountable, group participation in PD can take the edge off isolation and help teachers actually transfer what they learn to the classroom.
The benefits of group learning include:
Collaboration—Teachers feel more connected to and supported by their colleagues
Empowerment—Teachers feel more empowered to implement new teaching practices
Focus—Teachers feel more focused on what they’re learning
Accountability—Teachers feel accountable by colleagues for both learning and improvement
These benefits aren’t just applicable to in-person group learning; they’re also applicable to online group learning and collaboration. Online professional development programs with some form of group learning (online group activities, facilitated online discussions, etc.) have also been shown to give teachers a boost, both in how much they improve and how empowered and supported they feel to continue learning and improving.
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.
Hey there, Teachstone community! My name is Stephanie Lewandowski, and I am the Senior Product Manager for myTeachstone. Before joining Teachstone, I built digital products for education companies, financial institutions, and government agencies. I’m passionate about delivering impactful products, particularly the tools that make the everyday work of teaching and learning a little bit easier. As a parent, and as a product manager, I know how invaluable early childhood education is, and I’m inspired by the teachers in both my personal and professional life.
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.