We recently returned from the BUILD conference in Los Angeles, where Teachstone was a proud sponsor. It was so good to connect with members of the CLASS® community as well as the broader early education and policy community. Our team engaged in sessions, listened to voices of our partners, and had opportunities to share exciting advances in our understanding of how positive interactions impact children's lives.

A few key themes emerged as we listened and learned alongside this dedicated community of educators and leaders:

To ensure every child has access to quality, we need to accurately understand their classroom experiences

We all want to invest as much as we can in supporting educators and systems to offer high-quality experiences. System leaders are asking important questions about how to do this most equitably, effectively, and efficiently - with many removing the “R” (Rating) from QRIS. But we cannot “I” (Improve) in ways that impact children without using measures that help us focus on the elements of quality that matter most and make sure we understand where and how to support improvements. That said, we have an obligation to make sure that these measures are used in ways that provide timely and meaningful feedback to every educator, coach, and leader across settings, encouraging leaders to create a culture of improvement with the most important elements of quality at the center. At BUILD, we heard many great examples of systems, including our partners in Louisiana and Florida,  using CLASS for real continuous quality improvement (CQI) that is driving change at scale, while also inviting educators into this work by empowering them to be and feel seen and successful. 

Interactions matter on every level

At Teachstone, we know that interactions matter everywhere, for everyone, all of the time. We talked a lot with partners about how important it was for them to cultivate interactions that help connect, engage, and inspire learning across many contexts. In particular, interactions among adults were highlighted. Interactions matter for coaches, leaders, policymakers, and in board rooms and state houses. Several partners highlighted how helpful Teachstone’s coaching programs are at cultivating effective interactions among coaches and teachers.   

There was also something powerful in being in rooms for days with amazing people doing the work: it was in the small interactions we had at lunch, in line for coffee, and in between sessions that some of the most meaningful conversations happened. Our Co-Founder and CEO, Bridget Hamre, described a favorite moment when she was able to join state leaders from California, Arizona, Minnesota, Michigan, and Colorado alongside BUILD’s own Debi Mathias for dinner and listen to their visions for the future of quality systems and think together about how Teachstone can continue to evolve of products and services to best support the field. 

Ensuring equity starts with recognizing quality across diverse contexts and settings

The word equity is used heavily in education and it was in the titles of many BUILD presentations and a topic of much discussion. But it's important to dive deep and understand what the word means as we build and implement quality systems to support every child, family, and educator.  One critical element of that work is to ensure we recognize the ways quality looks different across settings, communities, and contexts. It was exciting to share more about CLASS 2nd Edition with our partners as we have worked hard to ensure the measures and trainings better reflect the diverse communities we serve. 

To truly promote equity, designing systems needs to happen alongside the educators on the ground, and not from the top down. There were many great sessions about how the field is working to ensure that we listen to families and educators as we design these systems. We’ve seen the impact of that approach as that is exactly how we approached our revision of CLASS - and it was fun to watch our partners see how their feedback was reflected in the new version (CLASS 2nd Ed).  

And our learning never stops. We will continue to listen to the field and collect feedback from our CLASS community, evolving our products to better represent the people using them and the children whose lives will be impacted.

Advocacy goes far when many voices join together 

At BUILD, we spoke to people who work at many levels of advocacy, from grassroots organizations inspiring communities and promoting local change, to individuals promoting policy and lobbying state governments. We heard success stories from all levels of advocacy. Through these stories, we saw that the most successful movements included voices from all levels of advocacy listening to each other and working together to promote change. As we enjoyed discussions in our sessions and the little moments in between, we were able to continue that important dialogue and make connections with people from every corner of the early childhood education world, including doctors, advocates, childcare center directors, researchers, and educators. 

Let’s continue the conversation 

We are grateful for the opportunity that BUILD provided to listen and share with everyone who attended. We are excited to continue this conversation at InterAct 2024 in San Diego, California. InterAct is our conference designed to help education leaders build connections and support each other. Session tracks typically include content for CLASS beginners, experts, and everyone in between.