I have noticed that many of my participants have a difficult time understanding the indicator of creating in Concept Development. Recently, one of my participants shared the following coding scenario with me to ask how I thought this activity should be considered in the coding process:
During small group time, the teacher provided the children with crayons and paper and tells them to draw a picture of their families. The children draw the pictures and when they are done, the teacher asks the children to tell her about their pictures-- whom did they draw? The children tell her that they have included their moms, dads, siblings, cousins, pets, and one student even put the teacher in her picture.
It’s easy to see why the participant asked about that scenario. On the one hand, the children were producing something – in this case, a picture. On the other hand, it was a very teacher-directed activity.
So how should you answer a question like this? First, take your participants to the manual to review the definition for Concept Development. Remind them that this dimension, “Measures the teacher’s use of instructional discussions and activities to promote students’ higher-order thinking skills and cognition and the teacher’s focus on understanding rather than on rote instruction.” Then, have the participants read through the footnote for Concept Development that tells us that Concept Development focuses on the strategies that teachers use to encourage understand and thinking skills.
Then, invite the participants to consider the following:
Asking these types of questions can help an observer determine how to code creative activities. To score creating in the high range, the observer needs to see consistent evidence that the teacher is not just asking the children to do something “creative,” such as make a drawing or painting a picture. Instead, the observer needs to look at how the teacher facilitates the activity to see if the teacher is stimulating children’s creativity and ability to generate new ideas. That is the hallmark of creating.
“What I think I’m most proud of as a professional in the field is our ability to show up, our ability to still do it, to still roll with the changes… We have to adjust. That is what educators did the entire year. We show up. We have a strong why. We love what we do.” This is a quote from Colleen Schmit from our recent webinar, Celebrating Great Teaching. She’s talking about how hard the last couple of school years have been for teachers. Teachers faced a similar difficulty 20 years ago when the United States faced a national tragedy.
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.
When COVID-19 hit and schools shut down, many of us were certain that it would not impact the 2020-21 school year. But after more than 18 months, it’s clear that the pandemic is still with us. The length of the pandemic has only heightened concern about COVID related learning loss - especially among underserved populations.
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.