While preparing for a recent presentation on "My CLASS Philosophy," I had many thoughts running through my head. There was no firm agenda that I was asked to follow, just to share my philosophy. Coming from a business background, I did what I have been trained to do—a SWOT Analysis. According to Wikipedia, a SWOT Analysis or SWOT matrix is:
A strategic planning technique used to help a person or organization identify the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats related to business competition or project planning. It is intended to specify the objectives of the business venture or project and identify the internal and external factors that are favorable and unfavorable to achieving those objectives.
In order to generate the meaningful information for each category, I used some parallel processes and began a brainstorming activity. I listed anything and everything that I could think of when it came to myself, my business, the childcare industry, and CLASS. Below is the SWOT Analysis that I developed:
In order to identify my strengths, as previously mentioned, I did a brainstorm analysis and quickly identified that two of the ways in which I am able to do what I do (wear the many hats I wear) is by staying organized and having an innate drive to deliver the best.
The same can be said for my list of opportunities. When I detail out what opportunities exist within my work, it helps me define goals and develop an organized vision to accomplish.
In Louisiana, we use a similar tool after CLASS observations, allowing us to share the teachers' strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for growth. This has been an incredibly useful tool for me both personally and professionally. I encourage everyone to take advantage of this technique!
Paula Polito is the owner/director of a child care center in the Greater New Orleans area. She currently serves as the chair of the Early Childhood Advisory Board for the Louisiana Department of Education, education chair for the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, and is on the Core Leadership team for the Jefferson Parish Early Childhood Collaborative. Paula also is a member of the CLASS Community Advisory Board.
On a hot summer day in July 2016, I had the good fortune of being the one not on vacation on our small policy and research team. Instead, I went to DC to serve as Teachstone’s representative for a convening of policymakers, researchers, and ECE practitioners. They were gathering to discuss if and how exemplary Head Start grantees might be identified for Leading by Exemplar, an initiative funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and led by Bellwether Education Partners.
Decades of evidence indicate that high-quality early childhood education positively affects children. Yet studies reveal that too few programs implement high-quality programming. To date, improvement efforts have primarily focused on what occurs within the classroom. The Ounce of Prevention Fund (Ounce), in partnership with the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research (UChicago Consortium), strives to broaden the focus of improvement efforts beyond the classroom to organizational conditions that support teachers and the relationships among staff, children, and families.
If you’ve been following the news lately, a lot is going on in North Carolina for young children and families! Leaders across the state—from businesses to state government to county municipalities—are leveraging partnerships that use research-based assessment and professional development models (like CLASS) to guarantee more of the state’s youngest residents have access to the high quality care they need and deserve.