When asked “What do children need for optimal growth and development?” most of us will reply “high quality care.” While this answer is correct, it is definitely not simple. With these three words, we refer to a complex system involving multiple partners, skills, knowledge, and challenges. Predictable routines, hands-on learning experiences, language-rich environments, positive interactions with caregivers, and parent engagement are just a few components of high quality care. In addition, all of these components are built on the foundation of a healthy, knowledgeable, well-trained and compensated work force.
Congratulations to the USA Women’s Soccer Team! What an amazing accomplishment to be the best in the world. In listening to commentary on NPR, I heard a clip of a little girl saying that she wants to win the world cup when she grows up. I couldn’t help but think about how unlikely it would have been for the US Women’s team to be world champions absent the passage of the Title IX mandate.
It seems that every time I sit down to write a blog post I am traveling via plane, train, or automobile to a conference. Today I am headed to National Harbor, Maryland for the QRIS National Meeting to join 850 state and national leaders to discuss moving the QRIS conversation from compliance to continuous quality improvement. My journey (literally and figuratively) started with a cup of coffee and Debi Mathias’ Build blog post BUILDing Strong Foundations. In the post, Debi highlights the message that my colleagues at Teachstone and I push forward everyday—to truly move the needle on quality and impact the future for ALL of our country’s youngest children, we must move beyond simply checking a box noting compliance and change practices through an embedded, ongoing, quality improvement process. The CLASS system is an integral part of this process. By linking observations with professional development, programs can move the needle on quality.
When we were in Chicago in July, 2015, we caught up with Vanessa Rich, the President of the National Head Start Association and the Deputy Commissioner, Family & Support Services for the City of Chicago. I had the opportunity to ask her about how she leverages data to make decisions about professional development for teachers. Vanessa believes that in Chicago, and across Head Start, reflection is the most important link between data and improvement efforts.
By Rachel Demma, Policy Director, Early Care and Education Consortium
Teachstone is thrilled to be a member of the Early Care and Education Consortium (ECEC). As an ECEC member, Teachstone joins with leading national, regional, and independent providers of high-quality child care and early learning programs and services to shape federal and state policy in support of improving care and education for children and families.
In my March blog, The Access vs. Quality Debate in Early Childhood Education, I discussed the ongoing debate in early childhood education systems building about increasing access or increasing quality. One thing I failed to do was provide a definition for “quality” early childhood education. I am not alone in this omission. If you were to review most federal, state, and local legislation on early childhood education, you would see a void in defining the word quality. I would argue that this lack of clarity around a central word severely impacts our ability within the nation, state, or locality to move forward in early childhood education systems building. Without a central definition to strive for, to drive for, and to focus upon, it is nearly impossible to build the infrastructure needed to build a quality system.
Do you ever stop to think whether you are making a difference? We live in a world with so many causes worth fighting for—access to medical treatment, cancer research, affordable housing, civil rights, clean drinking water ... the list goes on. But I can think of few causes that are as critical and worth fighting for than our investment in young children. Because giving children every opportunity to be great drives the future success of just about every worthy initiative out there.
Earlier this month, at the National Head Start Association conference in DC, I had the opportunity to speak with Teachstone’s Ambassadors. The Ambassadors are one of our investments in making sure we are always listening to the profession we strive to support, the teachers.
One of the things I keep in mind when developing PD for teachers is to start at the beginning. This isn’t the beginning of the year, the Training Period Evaluation, and it’s definitely not the Annual Evaluation. It’s the first touch a teacher has with my organization.