The time that you spend with all your staff together is limited, so how can you make the most of it? It’s crucial to ensure that you’re building strong relationships with staff and creating a structure that best works for your team. After all, you want your team to leave your in-service trainings feeling safe to grow, proud of their collective success, and supported with the tools they need to make an impact.
Teachstone’s webinar How to Design Effective & Impactful Teacher In-Service Days, led by Mary Margaret Gardiner, CLASS Expert at Teachstone, addressed 3 keys to making the most of your teacher workdays.
1. Incorporate a Parallel Process
The CLASS® tool promotes safe, warm, and engaging educational environments for children through the power of interactions — an approach that can also be applied to adults. Using high-quality interactions with adults is called a “parallel process.” And, promoting these meaningful interactions among staff can help to improve educators’ experiences in their programs. Parallel process can also help leaders deliver effective and impactful teacher in-service days.
So what do high-quality interactions, as measured by CLASS, look like among adults? Take some of these specific dimensions and see how they can apply to your in-service days:
For leaders who may feel too new to CLASS to apply the dimensions to your team, the CLASS® Primer for Leaders can help. This two-hour course further helps administrators and coaches understand the role of meaningful interactions and how to measure them in a way that supports educators in your program.
2. Focus on Social-Emotional Support
Many educators have shifted their focus to include more social-emotional learning (SEL) as children come back to the classroom this fall. The foundations of SEL can help children build resiliency skills, feel more connected to their peers, and feel safe to take the risks needed to learn new skills.
And just as teachers are building social and emotional skills with children, it’s important to center your in-service days around social-emotional support for staff. Don’t overlook the value of promoting wellness times or scheduling breaks for teachers to step away from the day-to-day toils of the classroom. Doing so communicates respect, sensitivity, and support between you and the adults in your program. Through continued engagement and individualization, you can make professional development both meaningful and relevant. Keeping staff excited and helping them feel valued will ensure they want to keep coming back.
Your staff needs affirmation, just as the children in their care do, and it should be specific and encouraging while acknowledging any ongoing or long-term trauma. Surveying staff about their sense of well-being and belonging helps, but only if you cultivate relationships where people can be honest and share their experiences. Listing what you are currently doing to take care of your educators and administrators can help pinpoint the areas in which you must further evolve.
When staff feel supported and learn how to deal with everyday stressors, they are better equipped to support the children in their care. Accepting change is difficult, but feeling valued can buffer some of the stress.
There’s not enough time to meet with everyone involved in your program every day. Instead, promote a culture of flexibility. Not everything has to be face-to-face and in a large group setting. Quarterly staff meetings or big events don’t build the same quality relationships as day-to-day interactions. Promote an asynchronous environment and provide more individualized time with staff. Consider going on a “listening tour” to determine what’s important and how you can be of assistance.
Bite-size professional development is feasible, but it must provide continuity and relevance. Like the children in their care, early learning professionals don’t want to do the same thing day after day. The more engaged they are, the better their experience will be. This is difficult to accomplish with instructional events that lack individualization and variety.
Teachstone’s customized teacher in-service days provide tailored training to meet educators’ unique needs. Participants choose from a menu of engaging content on topics related to emotional support, classroom organization, and instructional support. These 45-minute sessions provide targeted content and adequate time for Q&A. Teachstone handles the logistics for you, including registration and planning.
More information about Teachstone’s Custom Events is available here. To learn how the CLASS® tool can promote strong interactions with your teachers and administrators, watch the full webinar recording.
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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:
The frameworks that power great interactions with children can be applied to relationships with our coworkers. In our webinar Staying In-Sync: Creating Positive Interactions Between Teachers, panelists Kate Cline, Professional Services Manager at Teachstone, and Deidre Harris, Educational Consultant at Team Agreements, led a lively discussion about how to foster healthy relationships among your staff. They identified a few key areas that make up the foundation of this work. Let’s get into it!
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.
The idea of being observed while performing a job can make anyone feel a little nervous. But understanding what CLASS observations are really about can help teachers relax and approach their classrooms with the same skill and attention they normally do.
Marnetta Larrimer, host of Impacting the Classroom, is today’s guest. She’s an early education professional and trainer who is currently a Professional Services Manager for Teachstone. In her conversation with Kate, she’s going to talk about what a CLASS observation is all about. Listen to the episode to hear what she has to say about what she would be doing while observing a classroom, who she’s paying attention to, and what happens after an observation. The answers you hear will help you feel more confident the next time you’re being observed.