On Wednesday, September 23, the Office of Head Start (OHS) announced that it will be suspending CLASS reviews for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021. We sincerely hope this news relieves some of the stress our Head Start partners have felt as they grapple with new challenges related to pandemic conditions.
It is also our hope that programs will use this time to provide specific CLASS support to staff in order to strengthen interactions, regardless of the delivery model in which they are serving children.
Interactions between Head Start staff and children are more important than ever. CLASS® reviews have been temporarily paused, allowing programs the space to navigate these unique circumstances and deliver great interactions.
But, now is not a time to let quality slip. It’s critical that we continue pursuing life-changing interactions for children as they need extra support and comfort at this time. And, many children will need help processing and recovering from trauma.
While monitoring might not be happening from OHS in a formal way, we encourage programs to continue using CLASS as it has always been intended - as the best tool for understanding the quality of teacher-child interactions in order to improve them. Only with that understanding can you assign highly-targeted professional development to the areas where teachers need help the most.
We’ve published guidance and resources to help educators collect CLASS data in a wide variety of settings such as virtual classrooms and in-person classrooms with social-distancing practices. These guides give examples of how to continue collecting CLASS data even given the extenuating circumstances we face today. And, because interactions look different, we’ve published resources to help coaches effectively guide their teachers in these new circumstances.
Teacher turnover is a significant challenge faced by our Head Start partners. A study from the National Head Start Association last year showed that teacher turnover rates were over 30% in some states. This year, we expect that even more teachers are new to Head Start.
We encourage programs to view this as an opportunity to help those new teachers understand what great teaching looks like. This is a great time to certify them with a CDA program that includes CLASS best practices or to equip them with foundational CLASS understanding and skills through online trainings.
Head Start programs support our most vulnerable children. We are proud to empower those programs with the tools and resources they need to do so successfully.
Whether you are a Head Start administrator, coach, observer, or work directly with children, you play an important role in the lives of children in your care. You're likely feeling the pressure to meet the increased needs of those children. We are here to help you provide high-quality, meaningful interactions that comfort, support and engage children.
Let’s have a conversation and see how we can help.
Given the context of today’s educational landscape, the global pandemic we are still fighting, and the divides our country is facing, strong leadership is essential. There is a clear need to restabilize and improve education for every child, and every educator. But, what does that mean exactly for educational leaders who are leading the way?
Nearly two years ago I joined Teachstone with a deep desire and commitment to support leaders and teachers with real-time, practical, and evidence-based strategies and solutions to address the current needs of children, families, and educators. For the 20 years prior, I led organizations working at the national, state, and local levels focused on addressing the needs of children and families, especially those living in marginalized communities. As a practitioner at heart, my passion has been translating research to practice to drive impact and positive outcomes for children. This passion brought me to Teachstone.
Many teachers and leaders associate CLASS® with preschool. And we get it! It’s used in early childhood classrooms across the country, including Head Start programs, and it’s been more important than ever for young children as they begin to return to in-person learning.
But the principles of CLASS - Emotional Support, Classroom Organization, Instructional Support - are important for children well beyond Pre-K. The ever-increasing research base shows that interactions matter for children’s social-emotional and academic development. That’s why CLASS is organized to support children from infancy to high school with the developmentally appropriate interactions that drive learning - and why K-12 leaders are embracing CLASS in their schools.
We’re closing out our celebration of NAEYC’s Week of the Young Child with Family Friday. We have revamped this post from spring 2020 a little to reflect the changes that have happened since last April, but as many families have learned this year, classic activities are classics for a reason. Please enjoy these ones with your young child, and remember - the love, support, and work you’re putting into them will change the world.