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.
Teachstone, developer of the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS®) included in 23 states' Quality Rating and Improvement Systems and used by Head Start programs nationwide, today unveiled "Banking Time: Investing in Relationships," a new suite of tools to improve the quality of interactions between teachers and specific children birth through third grade, and in turn, to build strong, positive, equitable teacher-child relationships.
Teachstone applauds the removal of three Confederate statues in Charlottesville, VA. Our organization is headquartered in this Southern city and we have seen first-hand the visceral reaction evoked by these tributes to figureheads of the Lost Cause movement. While the cause of the Confederacy in the Civil War has been lost, the war on racism has not yet been won.
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.