In our webinar, "Interactions at the Core: The Life-Changing Power of Interactions In Any Setting" leaders from across early childhood settings came together to discuss how we can continue to build and foster relationships, enhance engagement, and inspire learning in this moment.
Dr. Anabel Espinosa, the director of research and evaluation at the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe, Dr. Elisa L. Johnson, a founding principal with AppleTree Early Learning Public Charter School, and Dru O’Connor, an NHSA consultant and education coach and disabilities manager with the Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency, shared a few practical ideas for those returning to school in virtual settings or with new distancing protocols in place. Below you’ll find a few of their suggestions for the school year.
Teachers can encourage positive peer relationships by:Providing in-person opportunities for peer-to-peer interaction
Teachers can form relationships with families by:Remaining positive and supportive
Teachers can engage children in their online synchronous lessons by:Connecting student interests with content
Teachers can inspire deep learning in a virtual setting by:Promoting Classroom Organization
We can provide support to our educators by:Offering self-care opportunities
The time has come for hard conversations.
That’s the feedback we have been receiving from educators across the country. There are plenty of tough conversations educators are trained, taught, or feel equipped to handle with children and families - gently bringing up a developmental concern, facilitating a disagreement between students, or explaining what happened with the classroom goldfish are all part of a day in the life. But in the last year, since the killing of George Floyd and other Black people at the hands of police, educators are increasingly asking for help in communicating more comfortably with young children about diversity and difference.
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.
Every state, every district, every school, every teacher faced decisions that they had never anticipated in the last academic year. As the end of the 2020-2021 school year approaches, it’s time to reflect on those decisions, learn from others, and prepare for the fall ahead.
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.