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How to Host Teacher In-Service Days That Are Actually Impactful

04 Aug 2022 by Teachstone

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:

  • Teacher Sensitivity - Start off your in-service trainings by first acknowledging the challenges that your staff has faced over the last couple years. Are you providing individualized support and ensuring that that support is accessible and open to all team members?
  • Productivity - With little time together, consider how you can maximize your time. 
  • Concept Development - Build your in-service days off of each other. Each day should connect and integrate with previous professional development opportunities. Are you clearly tying the objectives of your staff training to your team’s day-to-day activities? 

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. 

3. Make the Most of Your Time

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.

Next Steps

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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