Building positive relationships through community and student engagement is one of the core values for the education department at Blue Ridge Community College, a community college located in Flat Rock, NC, with NAEYC-accredited education programs. Faculty in the early childhood and school-age education programs support their students’ success by modeling professionalism, ethical standards, collaboration, and community involvement. Since building positive relationships has been a core value of the program, faculty encourage students to develop positive interactions with children in classroom observations, volunteer work with children, as well as in their practicum experiences.
To assist students with understanding the importance of the teacher-child relationship and interactions, the faculty use the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS). All of the full-time education faculty were trained in the CLASS and began implementing it with students in 2012. The CLASS is first introduced to students through teaching the importance of the teacher-child interactions and introducing the different domains and dimensions of the CLASS tool.
For the student’s practicum course, the students purchase the CLASS Dimension Guide and the CLASS Video Library. During the course the students are required to read and discuss the Dimensions Guide as well as view, discuss, and complete assignments for the Video Library. When the faculty coordinator visits the students in the practicum classroom, the CLASS tool is used as one way to evaluate the student’s performance in their relationships and interactions with the children in the classroom. The real-life examples in the videos have helped our students understand the different domains, dimensions, indicators, and behavior markers in CLASS, and discuss them with the faculty coordinator and fellow classmates.
Using this whole system for the CLASS has improved the students' interactions and relationships with children in the classroom, which has improved children’s behavior, interactions with other children, and their growth and development.
Brenda Blackburn, MS, is an Early Childhood and School-age Education Instructor at Blue Ridge Community College in Flat Rock, North Carolina. Before getting her MS in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Alabama, Brenda spent much of her time teaching in Indiana and Mississippi.
How have children’s social and emotional needs changed this year?
That’s one of the major concerns Teachstone has been hearing from leaders and educators across the country. Even before the pandemic, teachers in early childhood settings, elementary school, and beyond had increasingly been paying attention to children’s self-regulation, social skills, and other emotional needs. With so much turmoil and loss, what has shifted? How can educators prepare to support children? And...how can leaders prepare to support their teaching staff?
To tackle these questions, we brought together Amanda Alexander, VP of Policy and Partnership Development at Teachstone; Bridget Hamre, Co-Founder and CEO at Teachstone; Gene Pinkard, Aspen Institute Director of Practice and Leadership; and Bloodine Barthelus, Director of Practice Innovations at CASEL. Our experts shared the principles they think are most important for social-emotional learning, the challenges they’re anticipating, and how thoughtful instructional leaders are rolling out new social-emotional initiatives.
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.
To those in the education world, it’s not news that our schools, our systems, and our students are struggling. For nearly 40 years, since the publication of A Nation At Risk, we’ve recognized as a country that something isn’t working.
For more than a century after the United States’ colonization, school was intended for children who were overwhelmingly wealthy, white, male, and English-speaking - those demographics are no longer the case. Students today are representative of all our nation’s families, but our history means there’s a mismatch between what education has done up to this point and what children really need. What’s more, advances in science - psychology, medicine,
neuroscience, economics, and more - have shown us that to give children the greatest opportunity we must change what we’re doing. We can’t let another 40 years pass while we figure it out.
Since 2018, over 10,000 educators and counting have enrolled in a CDA with CLASS® program. That’s a milestone in and of itself. But when you zoom out, it means that tens of thousands of children are now cared for by these professionals. And, when you think of the number of meaningful, high-quality interactions that happen each and every day? It’s not unreasonable to think that there are a hundred thousand or more brain-building moments that happen daily because learners have enrolled in a CDA with CLASS program.