Whether it’s an infant cooing in response to a teacher’s gentle voice in an Early Head Start classroom or a second grader delighting in their teacher’s positive feedback in an elementary school classroom down the street, interactions matter in every education setting across the country.
This year’s annual NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) conference was a whirlwind for me! Scheduled to co-deliver two presentations in one day, I’m sure you can understand why it felt like a blur!
A little after my daughter’s first birthday, she was playing with a small, elephant pull toy. She would try to push it, but it would get stuck on the attached string. After that happened a few times, she tried to bunch the string up and put it on top of the elephant. That didn’t work, so then she tried putting the bunch of string in the hole on the elephant. That failed too. Finally, she decided to put the string over her shoulder while she pushed. The string stayed and she was able to push the elephant, unencumbered.
There I was at the final session of a yearlong professional development program, which surprisingly, and very pleasantly, turned out to be the most atypical professional development that I had ever attended. As an administrator for more than 14 years, I had experienced quite a few of them and was therefore extremely conversant on the good and bad of professional development. This professional development, however, seemed more of a retreat for early childhood administrators desperately in need of refuge from the tumultuous world of accountability.
On February 1, 2015, Early Learning Ventures (ELV) became Colorado’s newest Early Head Start Grantee. Combining the comprehensive nature of Early Head Start services with our Shared Services Model, we are primed to serve 240 children and families in four distinct Colorado counties. To date, we have signed contracts with 26 licensed childcare programs, 11 childcare homes, and 15 centers, and we are still growing. On October 20, 2015, ELV’s enrollment reached the big TWO-ZERO-ZERO (200)—83% of our funded enrollment!
The commentary on the TNVPK evaluation continues. Study authors Farran and Lipsey wrote a pushback piece addressing critics’ claims that the study findings are due to the poor quality of TNVPK programs. They also laud the TNVPK program as being among the nation’s highest quality models. Now we’re on my favorite topic: quality.
Preschool programs have been shown by numerous studies to be effective in increasing children’s social and academic achievement by kindergarten entry, so why do we continue to question the value and worthiness of these investments in critical early learning experiences, particularly for more disadvantaged children? Similarly, why would we want to think of preschool as an inoculation? Do we really think we can dose a vulnerable four-year old with nine months of decent early education and voilà they read like the kids from the fast lane? It’s like we think pre-k “pours in” skills to the container that is a four-year old, and those skills are permanently there, they won’t leak out. We treat this as if the years before preschool and then again the years between preschool and third grade don’t matter.
Early childhood education is finally getting its time in the spotlight. It’s great to see more and more funding going into programs that will make a difference for thousands of young children and their families. But I haven’t heard much about early childhood education as a profession. As the CEO of Teachstone and a CPA by training, I want to step back and talk about three investments we need to commit to the adults supporting our youngest learners.
At the QRIS National Meeting in July, I sat in on a session about the next generation of quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS) and learned about how Arizona and two counties in Florida are shifting their thinking and plans to ensure continuous quality improvement.Having recently written a case study on Arizona, I reached out to Katie Romero again and had the opportunity to interview Katie and her colleague from First Things First, Leslie Totten, to learn more about the upcoming changes.Here’s the skinny:
I grew up in Plymouth, Michigan, and the first day of school was always the Tuesday after Labor Day. As I moved south, I was surprised that the first day of school could range from August 1 to September 7. My children started eighth (gasp!) and fourth grade last week, and I must admit that I am struggling with the end of summer! I am sure many of you are going through a similar transition, but one thing I have learned about transitions is that they are a perfect time to reflect and plan for what is to come. Therefore, I am dedicating today’s blog to school administers—principals, center directors, Head Start directors—the leaders who pull everything together and make the buses run, the clocks tick, and the copy machines whirl.