Our QRIS (Quality Rating and Improvement System) journey began in 2004 in a small office with just three staff. Just like many organizations, we contracted with a consultant to guide us in the implementation of our pilot QRS (Quality Rating System). We assembled quality indicators and requirements galore into eight domains, including ratios, screening and assessment, program operations, learning environment, curriculum, etc. Documents, documents, and more documents were reviewed to assign a star rating for a child care center.
Fast forward to 2007. With all the confidence from our pilot QRS, we added the letter "I" to QRS; and our QRIS was branded as Guiding Stars of Duval (GSOD). Our QRIS went through a little Weight Watchers’ regimen, and the streamlined set of quality indicators and requirements were organized into five domains.
In the 2012-2013 school year, five years after the implementation of our first iteration of Guiding Stars, we began a discussion about the importance of effective teacher-child interactions in early childhood classrooms. We knew we had to add a tool within our Guiding Stars which would measure this important facet. So we took a one-year pause and collected pre-K CLASS observation data, set the CLASS-score ranges for the different levels within our Guiding Stars based on our observation data, and built capacity with lots of training!
Effective August 2013, we moved into the next iteration—Guiding Stars of Duval 2.0 (GSOD 2.0) with the addition of pre-K CLASS. Our child care center directors, teachers, and the entire early learning community embraced pre-K CLASS. We collected more CLASS data and reviewed scientific literature about the power of positive adult-child relationships, which continued to inform our work.
During the fall and winter of 2015, we will have more dialogue with our child care directors, and collect more data based on observations using the infant and toddler CLASS measures. Our next iteration—a focused and streamlined Guiding Stars 3.0 will be implemented effective August 2016 and will include the three early childhood CLASS family of tools: infant, toddler and pre-K CLASS, with an emphasis on nurturing and effective teacher-child interaction.
We look forward to reporting back to the entire early learning community across the country through the Teachstone blog during the fall and winter of 2016 after we begin our full scale implementation of the entire CLASS family of tools. We hope for great choreography. And by the way, a decade later, we are up to 90 employees in our organization. Our QRIS/CLASS journey continues!
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. Guiding Stars of Duval is the signature initiative for the Early Learning Coalition of Duval and has a big emphasis on teacher child interaction, which is measured with the use of the CLASS (Classroom Assessment Scoring System) family of tools. And she is a Teachstone ambassador.
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There is always an opportunity for interaction. Some opportunities are easily recognizable: times of play, free choice, centers, small group. We often see teachers engaged in activities alongside children during these times or hear questions being asked. Other opportunities might be a little less obvious. These are the times of your day that you might see as mundane moments that merely require your supervision or monitoring. The times where you’re going through the motions. “I’m doing this thing so I can move on to the next thing.”
In a previous blog, colleague and early childhood environment extraordinaire, Heather Sason, discussed how your classroom environment can help promote effective teacher-child interactions. In this blog, I propose we explore some of the often overlooked times in your day that are ripe for interactions with children and that do promote exploration, learning, and development!
It's not uncommon for teachers in early education to need to strike a balance between following children's leads and sticking to the classroom schedule. We know that intentional teachers are aware of their responsibility to assess student progress, understand skill mastery, and plan accordingly to provide opportunities for children to grow. However, many times, as teachers begin a specific teacher-directed activity, it is unsettling when students begin to veer from the step-by-step plans the teacher has worked hard to implement.
Teacher and coach, Colleen Schmit, will share how teachers can strike the balance between following the lesson plans and giving children freedom of choice and flexibility in the classroom.
We’re more than a month into the school year, and many educators and school leaders are feeling tired or burnt out already. That’s normal in any school year, as the newness of back-to-school wanes and the reality of a long year ahead kicks in. But, this year, that tiredness may feel like it has never felt before. Chalkbeat has reported that teacher vacancies are up in 18 of 20 large school districts, and it’s not surprising. Many are exhausted after a difficult year and a half (to put it mildly!). Many are also leaving the profession in droves to find work in competitive environments that provide a substantially larger salary.
As an educator, you’re busy. Your time is being split by competing priorities, from managing students’ needs, meeting your program’s goals, and communicating with parents. While you’re juggling your work, it can be difficult to keep learning about important ways to improve your daily teaching practice. Teachstone is here to help!