When my team and I got on the plane to return home from Chicago after attending the first InterAct: A CLASS Summit, we felt a renewed sense of excitement.
There were attendees from 34 states and 10 countries. The Summit had so many informative sessions between the bookends of an enthusiastic opening keynote and the reflective closing keynote—it was exactly what we were looking for!
Teachstone’s CEO, Rebecca Berlin, kicked off the Summit with an introduction to InterAct. Yvette Sanchez Fuentes, former Director of Office of Head Start, talked about the importance of teacher-child interactions. Dr. Bridget Hamre, co-founder of Teachstone, presented using a seed metaphor to paint the current early childhood landscape, which was engaging and meaningful.
On day 1, I decided to attend the "State Stories" track. From First 5 California’s pilot implementation using myTeachstone to Georgia DECAL’s implementation of MMCI and MTP to Arizona’s journey with the CLASS system, the sessions covered a ton of ground from the West Coast to East Coast. After my presentation about the entire CLASS family of tools moving into our QRIS, I attended the heartwarming presentation by Washington D.C.’s Briya Charter School on their work with dual language learners using CLASS.
It was fun chatting with the attendees during breakfast and lunch. I never thought I would run into people from Chile, Quebec, and Kansas—all in one place!
Day 2 began with a great conversation between Teachstone’s COO Mike Benzian and Dr. Bob Pianta, co-founder of Teachstone. I found the session on how to complete CLASS observations when infants and toddlers are in the same classroom and Arizona’s presentation about CLASS in the context of special needs children extremely informative. The icing on the cake of Tuesday’s sessions was the presentation on the triangular effect of using CLASS, Teaching Strategies GOLD, and Creative Curriculum.
The Summit ended with a reflective dialogue facilitated by Dr. Debra Pacchiano of the Ounce of Prevention and two coaches from her organization about the role of instructional leadership and trusting relationships in program improvement and delivering on the promise of CLASS.
We learned a ton, had many great conversations, and interacted with a great community of CLASS professionals. Our key takeaway? Teacher-child interactions matter!
Padma Rajan works as VP of programs, research, and evaluation for the Early Learning Coalition of Duval in Jacksonville, FL. She has spearheaded and facilitated the implementation of Guiding Stars of Duval, the Quality Rating and Improvement System in Duval County, for the past decade. Padma is a Teachstone ambassador, and has worked in the field of early childhood and elementary education for over 20 years. She is also a CPA, and she spent a decade crunching numbers prior to her work in education.
In the wake of the widespread civil unrest after the killing of George Floyd, the national conversation about the inequities in the educational opportunities provided white students and students of color has been amplified. Due to racial and socioeconomic segregation, Black students, and other students of color, are more likely to attend poorly funded schools. EdBuild, a non-profit focused on fair and equitable school funding, reports that high poverty school districts that predominantly enroll children of color receive on average, $1,600 less per student than the national average. By their calculations, there is a $23,000,000,000 gap between funding for schools that primarily serve high poverty Black students and those that predominantly serve white students. Schools that predominantly serve high poverty white students, only receive $1440 less per student (EdBuild, 2019).
I recognize and admit to having a chip on my shoulder about the field of early childhood education - and, at times, disbelief that others may not see that period of time as the power-packed years in our developmental timeline which can lay the groundwork and set the course for much of the rest of our lives.
Since the coronavirus has disrupted many of our in-person plans, you might be trying to figure out how you can transition in-person coaching to online coaching. Online coaching can open a number of doors for coaches and teachers that might not be an option in face-to-face work.