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Supervising Your Brain and Other Helpful Habits

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Serving Head Start and Early Head Start children and families is very important work. We work closely with our children in order prepare them for Kindergarten as well as a foundation of lifelong learning. We work closely with our families to ensure that they are fully engaged in their child’s education and on the road to self-sufficiency. This work is significant, demanding and strenuous.

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Training on: “Time Management & Organizational Skills”

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It’s important that your staff have good time management skills as well as good organizational skills. These skills are critical when managing a caseload, linking children and families to needed services, and documenting the work that is done with children and families.  

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Effective Case Management: Training for Family Service Workers & Home Visitors

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Since Family Service Workers and Home Visitors are the first point of contact for our families, they are often pulled in many different directions. This often results in challenges in doing all of the needed follow-up with families as well as linking the children and families to needed services and resources.

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CLASS Training to Increase Your Instructional Support Scores

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As we all know, it’s essential to have high CLASS scores. High scoring classrooms are a great indicator of positive teacher/child interactions that effectively support children’s learning and development. This leads to successful CLASS Reviews as well as best practices in the classroom. Most Head Start programs score lowest in the Instructional Support domain. This is understandable as some of the indicators within Concept Development, Quality of Feedback and Language Modeling are complex.

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Conducting your ITERS & ECERS Observations

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Are you looking for someone to come to your program and conduct ITERS or ECERS observations of your classrooms?

We conduct ITERS & ECERS observations for Head Start and Early Head Start programs.  As outside observers, we have the objectivity needed to observe classrooms without the possibility of bias. The results of these observations will provide you with the data that you need to make decisions in your program.

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Effective Goal Setting with Families through Motivational Interviewing

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Family Service Workers and Home Visitors are the first point of contact for our families. Having a good working relationship with families is key in a successful goal setting process. As staff invite each family to participate in the goal setting process, having a partnership in place with each family is essential.  Another key skill to have in your toolbox, as it pertains to building successful relationships with families as well as effective goal setting, is motivational interviewing.  

 

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A Good Community Assessment is Essential

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A comprehensive Community Assessment is one of the foundational elements of your Head Start program. It is used to make important decisions about your program regarding program design and service delivery. It is a critical document when writing your 5-year grant application, when writing a Recompetition grant application and when making decisions about selection criteria, enrollment slots, and types of services needed by children and families. It’s an essential document used for data-driven decision making and must include all needed data. Once you have a complete picture of the current conditions in your service area, you and your team can plan and make the right decisions for your Head Start program.

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Best Practices of Family Engagement

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Family Service Workers and Home Visitors are the first point of contact for our families. The way that they approach and build relationships with parents as well as how they engage them in the goal setting process is critical. It sets the tone for the rest of the school year. High quality family engagement includes several key elements.

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CLASS Training: How to Naturally Implement Instructional Support throughout the Head Start Day

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As we all know, it’s essential to have high CLASS scores. High scoring classrooms are a great indicator of positive teacher/child interactions that effectively support children’s learning and development. This leads to successful CLASS Reviews as well as best practices in the classroom. Most Head Start programs score lowest in the Instructional Support domain. This is understandable as some of the indicators within Concept Development, Quality of Feedback and Language Modeling are complex.

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Working Together to Promote Nutrition & Physical Activities in the Classroom & at Home

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Teaching staff play an important role in establishing the foundation of wellness for young children and their families. Since teaching staff collect data on children’s progress and make decisions based on that data, it’s important to look at the nutrition, health and safety needs of our children.

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Energizing Keynotes: Building Consistency, Capacity & Commitment

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Are you looking for an energizing keynote to kick off your Pre-service? It’s a great opportunity to bring your Head Start and Early Head Start staff together and ensure that everyone is on the same page. It’s a good time to set the tone for the new school year. . .to set the expectation of excellence in your program – excellence for the children, for the families and for the staff. Let’s share the message that the expectation is to go above and beyond for our children and families in order to create school-ready children and families that are fully engaged in their child’s education and on the road to self-sufficiency.

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Creating Realistic, Specific & Measurable Goals with Families

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Family Service Workers and Home Visitors are the first point of contact for our families. Establishing a good working relationship with each family is the foundation for effective & comprehensive work with families. Have a good working relationship with families is key in a successful goal setting process. As staff invite each family to participate in the goal setting process, having a partnership in place with each family is essential.

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CLASS Training Specifically Designed for Head Start Teaching Staff

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High CLASS scores in each of the domains are essential in Head Start. High scoring classrooms are a great indicator of positive teacher/child interactions as well as effectively supporting children’s learning and development. This leads to successful CLASS Reviews as well as best practices in the classroom.

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Creating Your Program or Agency’s Community Assessment

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Program planning is an important piece of a successful Head Start or Early Head Start program.  A current & comprehensive Community Assessment is one of the key documents to have for effective program planning. A comprehensive Community Assessment is also needed to write your Refunding Application, your Recompetition Grant Application and to maintain programmatic compliance. Your Community Assessment is a key document that drives decision-making in your program.

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Training for Teaching Staff: Engaging Learners through Intentional Teaching

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Effective learning is achieved when children are fully engaged. This occurs when children are actively involved and energized by what is being presented. The classroom environment should be one that captures children’s inquiry, promotes creativity and encourages problem-solving skills. Equally important is the intention on the part of the teacher.  Together, these strategies hold the key to successful learning for children.

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Successfully Managing Children’s Challenging Behaviors: Becoming Trauma Informed

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Head Start classrooms today contain more & more children with extreme behavior issues as well as children with diagnosed and undiagnosed special needs. Teachers often report that despite trying many different things to manage children’s challenging behaviors, nothing has been effective. We have found that the origin of many children’s challenging behaviors is rooted in developmental trauma.

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Effective Case Management: Training for Family Service Workers & Home Visitors

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Family Service Workers and Home Visitors play an essential role in your program, especially in the area of case management. They begin by establishing a good working relationship with each parent. Effective work with families starts with an understanding of where parents are and where they want to go. Build connection with families by allowing adequate time for conversation and listening with an open mind. Create a safe environment for parents to share their strengths and open up about areas of challenge. It’s important that there is a system in place to link families to needed services and resources.

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Building Successful Relationships With Parents Through Motivational Interviewing

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One of the most important roles of Family Service Workers and Home Visitors is to create effective working relationships with parents. We believe in meeting parents where they are. . .and creating a strong partnership with each parent in order to guide them to self-sufficiency. Home Visitors and Family Service Workers work closely with parents to identify their strengths and needs, set family goals and provide opportunities for parents to be fully engaged in the life of their child, including in their education.  Family participation is a powerful predictor of positive child outcomes and it directly impacts children’s school readiness. 

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Creating Your Program’s Full Community Assessment

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Your Community Assessment is one of the foundational elements of your program. It is used to make important decisions in your program regarding program design and service delivery. It is a critical document when writing your Refunding application, when writing a Recompetition grant application and when making programmatic decisions about selection criteria, enrollment slots, and types of services needed by children and families. It’s an essential document used for data-driven decision making and must include all needed data.

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CLASS Training Using the “STAR” Method

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Effective CLASS training consists of keeping the participants highly engaged by utilizing a “learning by doing” approach. It’s based on the principles of adult learning, which results in high impact learning. This hands-on strategy allows the teaching staff to take back the information that they learn in the training and implement it in their classrooms. Adult learning is most effective when the participants can see, feel and experience the information that is being presented. 

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Successful Home Visiting: Utilizing the Home as a Learning Environment

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The goal of home-based services in Head Start & Early Head Start is to strengthen the relationship between children and their parents. Home visiting is intended to support parents in their role as their child’s first and most important teacher and for parents to facilitate their child’s growth and development. We believe in strength-based practice as it pertains to home visiting… building on the individual strengths that each family has during home visits and socializations.

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CLASS Training to Increase Your Instructional Support Scores

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High CLASS scores in each of the domains are a must in Head Start. High scoring classrooms are a great indicator of positive teacher/child interactions as well as effectively supporting children’s learning and development. This leads to successful CLASS Reviews as well as best practices in the classroom.

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Policy Council and Board of Directors Training: Building a Strong Governance Team

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The Policy Council and Board of Directors play an important role in your program. The Policy Council is responsible for the direction of your Head Start program and the Board of Directors has a legal and fiscal responsibility to administer and oversee your Head Start program. It’s critical that you provide comprehensive training for your Policy Council and Board of Directors so that they can successfully fulfill their role.

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Making the Most Out of CLASS Observations

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CLASS observations are a critical piece of the puzzle in achieving success in Head Start.  The data that comes from CLASS observations is invaluable… as long as the observations are conducted by objective observers and the CLASS tool is implemented with fidelity.     

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Creating Your Program’s Full Community Assessment: Data-Driven Decision Making

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As a Head Start or Early Head Start program, you are required to have a Community Assessment that is comprised of comprehensive data of the communities in your service area. The new Head Start Program Performance Standards designate specific data that must be included in the Community Assessment to describe community strengths, needs and resources.

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Using Motivational Interviewing to Build Effective Relationships with Parents

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Family Service Workers and Home Visitors have an important role that includes creating effective working relationships with parents. They form a partnership with them to guide them on their path to self-sufficiency. Home Visitors and Family Service Workers work closely with parents to identify their strengths and needs, set family goals and provide opportunities for parents to be fully engaged in the life of their child.

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Mentor Coaching Training: The Building Blocks of Effective Mentor Coaching

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Mentor Coaching is an important piece of professional development and has become a foundational element in Head Start and Early Head Start programs.  Mentor Coaching is ongoing, grounded in classroom practice, individualized, reflective and intensive.  It provides teachers with an opportunity to self-reflect, set goals, receive feedback and improve their craft.  Effective mentor coaching impacts teacher practice and improves outcomes for children.

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Best Practices of Home Visiting

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The goal of home-based services in Head Start & Early Head Start is to strengthen the relationship between children and their parents. Home visiting is intended to support parents in their role as the primary caregiver and for the parents to facilitate their child’s growth and development. We believe in strength-based practice as it pertains to home visiting… building on the individual strengths that each family has during home visits. High quality home visiting includes several key elements.

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Teaching with Intentionality

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Effective learning is achieved when children are fully engaged. This occurs when children are actively involved and energized by what is being presented. The classroom environment should be one that captures children’s inquiry, promotes creativity and encourages problem-solving skills. Equally important is the intention on the part of the teacher.

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Hands-On CLASS Training

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Are you looking for CLASS training that is relevant to your Head Start classrooms and that inspires your Head Start teachers? Are you looking for CLASS training that is highly interactive and fully engages your Head Start teachers in practice-based learning?

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EHS Training: Baby Steps to School Readiness

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School readiness is the first step to ensure that no matter where a child starts, it will not determine how far they can go. How can your high quality infant-toddler classrooms maximize learning? This highly interactive training looks at how Early Head Start programs can unlock childrens’ potential and provide them with a strong foundation for lifelong learning.

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Leadership Development Training: Building Strong Leaders at Your Centers

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We often hear about leadership development opportunities for Content Area Managers and other staff on your Management Team. We believe that it’s also important to develop the leaders at your centers. The leaders at our centers have daily contact with the children and families and make important programmatic decisions on a regular basis.

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Training for Family Service Workers: “Empathize, Encourage & Empower: Building Successful Relationships with Parents”

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It is essential that families are fully engaged in the lives of their children, including being invested in their child’s education. Establishing meaningful family engagement in your program is critical.  It’s the basis for many other programmatic activities and requirements. The Family Service Worker is the first point of contact for our families. Engaging families and establishing a good working relationship with them is a foundational element in Head Start.

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Training for Home Visitors: The Home Visitor as the Coach

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Home Visitors have such a short period of time with families each week, yet such a big to-do list. In home-based programs, the Home Visitor is the person who brings all that Head Start or Early Head Start has to offer into the homes of our families. It’s important that Home Visitors are highly organized, focused and clear about their role.

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Successfully Managing Children’s Challenging Behaviors

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What do you do when you’ve tried everything to manage children’s challenging behaviors and nothing is effective? Most classrooms today contain children with extreme behavior issues as well as children with diagnosed and undiagnosed special needs. 

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Developing Your Plan for Mentor Coaching

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What is your program’s plan for Mentor Coaching? The new Head Start Program Performance Standards state that programs must implement a research-based, coordinated coaching strategy for education staff by August 1, 2017.

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Effective Goal Setting with Families through Motivational Interviewing

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Family Service Workers and Home Visitors are the first point of contact for our families. They have a critical role that includes working closely with each family to meet them where they are – and guide them on their path to self-sufficiency. Establishing a good working relationship with families is essential in the goal setting process. Another key skill to have in your toolbox, as it pertains to effective goal setting, is motivational interviewing.   

Effective goal setting consists of partnering with families to create specific and measurable goals. We have found that successfully implementing this process consists of the following.

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Conducting Your Program’s CLASS observations: More than Just Scores

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How are your CLASS observations going? Are you getting the most out of them that you can? CLASS observations are an important piece of the puzzle to ensure best practices in the classroom. They are also critical in the data collection and analysis process. CLASS data is carefully considered when planning training and mentor coaching. CLASS observations are also important when preparing for a CLASS Review.

When conducting CLASS observations, consider the following:

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Leadership Development & Supervisory Training

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Happy New Year! I hope that you had wonderful holidays. The beginning of the year is an exciting time.  It’s a great time to make plans for the coming year.  

When thinking about key steps to take to create a high quality program, I’m sure that developing leaders is near the top of the list. It’s important to have strong leaders in place across your program. They are responsible for leading and supervising the staff who provide direct services to the children and families.  

Training on leadership development and how to successfully supervise staff is critical for your Content Area Managers, Center Directors and other supervisors.

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Practice-Based CLASS Training

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As you know, it’s essential to have and maintain high CLASS scores. Having high scoring classrooms is a great indicator of positive teacher/child interactions that effectively support children’s learning and development. This leads to successful CLASS Reviews as well as best practices in the classroom.

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Interpreting Data to Drive Instruction: Data-Driven Decision Making for Teachers

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If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it 1,000 times…… data is the driving force of decision-making. Effective Head Start programs develop a culture of data-driven decision making, the process of making choices based on appropriate analysis of programmatic information. As programs consider multiple data sources and analyze their results, they are able to create changes that increase their overall quality and improve child outcomes.

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Strategic Planning: Setting the Direction for Your Program

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Does your strategic plan include broad, long-range goals that define what your program wants to accomplish and short-term objectives that are specific and measurable? Are the goals and objectives based on your program’s critical documents? Strategic planning is a great opportunity to bring stakeholders together, provide focus for the program and ensure that everyone is on the same page. When creating your strategic plan, consider the following.

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Policy Council and Board of Directors Training: Engaging your Governance Team

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As you plan your Policy Council or Board of Directors training, I’m sure that it will include training topics such as roles and responsibilities, performance standards and leadership opportunities. Also consider including topics that are targeted specifically to engage your Policy Council and Board of Directors to be truly invested in your Head Start program. The items below are geared towards creating this engagement.   

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Key Points from the 2015 NHSA Fall Institute

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In case you weren’t able to attend the 2015 National Head Start Association Fall Leadership Institute, highlights included information from the Director, information on grant applications, looking at FY 2016 Monitoring, a summary of CLASS data, an analysis of the Designation Renewal System, an Environmental Health and Safety update as well as Fiscal updates. Check out our comprehensive notes. 

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Ready, Set, Coach!

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We know from research that it isn’t enough to just put new knowledge or techniques in the hands of teachers. They need support to turn those new ideas into practice. This is why so many programs have made mentor coaching a central component of their professional development effort.

Mentor coaches have many roles and responsibilities and use various approaches including on-site, long-distance and an integrated method. All of these approaches help teachers do their best work with children. In order for coaching to improve teacher practice and student achievement, here are a few considerations.

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A Full Community Assessment: Your Essential Planning Document

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A full Community Assessment will provide you with all of the data that you need to make critical programmatic decisions.  Examples of these programmatic decisions are:

  • Determining recruitment areas and selection criteria;
  • Selecting program options;
  • Determining the type of content area services that are most needed;
  • Creating long-range and short-range program goals and objectives;
  • Determining available community resources to support family stability.

Consider the following when creating your program’s Community Assessment.

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The Intentional Teacher: Planning for Instruction

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There is increased public attention on early childhood education and school readiness. It is essential that teachers are confident in data-driven instruction while maintaining a child-centered environment.  The environment should be one that engages children’s inquiry, creativity and problem-solving skills. We want every child who enters school to have the skills and ability to be successful. As early childhood education professionals, we know what high quality instruction looks like - and that academic preparation is only part of it. We also know that play is valuable to the social-emotional and cognitive health of children.

Here are a few suggestions for engaging children as active participants in the learning process.

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A New Look at Professional Development

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With the proposed revisions to the Head Start Program Performance Standards, we notice a distinct shift in strategies to support staff. While most experienced and efficient trainers know that “one shot, sit and get” sessions are not as productive as we might wish, sometimes whole group trainings are best in light of budgets, calendars and staff energy! However, research and best practice confirm the value of a more individualized and personalized approach. Essential Elements is ready and willing to assist as you seek the most effective and creative way to offer training opportunities for your staff.

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Communicating with EEE’s: Building Relationships with Families

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What is the most important thing that you want families in your program to know? Your answer indicates how the staff and program interact with and support families during their time in Head Start. Finding the most effective and comfortable way to build relationships with families and to partner with them for success is important in a program’s planning process. Think about these suggestions to create an “EEE”asy course of action for your group!

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Essential Elements of Learning

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Did you know that your classroom is the third teacher? Your learning environment profoundly impacts skill-building, both socially and academically Time is our greatest commodity. Therefore, as early childhood educators, we must make the most of our daily schedule (and our space) to increase children’s learning and impulse control.

The essential elements of learning involve intentional interactions that are developed through structure and a nurturing environment. If you want to improve either of these components in the classroom, but you don’t know where to begin, here are some great ways to get started.

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Essential Tips: School Skills for Families

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Partnering with Parents for School Readiness

What is the most important thing that we want our children to remember about their school days? Is it following too many rules? Being told what to do? Testing, testing, testing? Of course not! And when we think about our own days at school, we remember more personal and experiential events – rather than test answers or when to raise our hands. Support for our children and their families as they enter their educational journey is an awesome and important reality for Head Start programs. How to make that successful requires thought and intention on our part. Consider these tips.

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Listen up! Setting the Stage for Reading and Writing

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The Literacy Knowledge and Skills Domain of the Head Start Early Learning Framework sets the stage for reading and writing development in school. As early childhood teachers, we must provide activities that lend themselves to not only developing these critical skills, but that also fully engage children in their learning. 

Did you know that Phonological Awareness is a continuum of skills that leads directly to emergent reading and writing? Phonological Awareness calls children to listen to the sounds of our language from a whole word or sentence, down to the individual letter sounds in a word. Later, these skills will help children develop strategies for decoding words when they are learning how to read.

If you want to implement phonological awareness activities in the classroom, but you don’t know where to begin, here are some great activities to get started.

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Creating Highly Engaging Training for Your Staff

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Having a comprehensive training plan for your staff is essential, but it’s not everything.  The training must also be highly engaging so that learning occurs.  We recommend utilizing a “learning by doing” training methodology.  Make your training highly interactive so that the participants experience the information that is being presented.  This results in high impact learning, in which the training participants take back the information that they learned and implement it immediately.  When planning training for your staff, consider the following points.

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Essential Tips: Engagement + Intention + Learning Success!

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We know that the most effective learning is achieved when children are engaged. Engagement occurs when children are involved and energized by what is being presented and when they are active with others as they solve problems together. Equally important is intention on the part of the teacher. Together, these strategies hold the key to positive outcomes in the Approaches to Learning domain. How can we create the best environment for learning success? Invite your staff to follow these three tips.

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Increasing Your Instructional Support Scores

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In most Head Start programs, it is the instructional support domain that produces the lowest CLASS scores. As you know, high CLASS scores are important to ensure best practices in the classroom as well as to prepare for a successful CLASS Review event. Consider providing training to your teaching staff specifically on strategies to increase instructional support scores.

We’ve found that successful teacher training in this area includes the following 3 points.

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Starting Out Strong: Training for New Content Area Coordinators

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Content Area Coordinators are responsible for ensuring that children and families are linked to all needed services in their content area. They are responsible for ensuring that their content area is and stays in full compliance. It’s also critical that they provide great leadership skills and work in collaboration with the other Content Area Coordinators. What should training for New Content Area Coordinators include?

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Creating a Full Community Assessment

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Three (3) Essential tips when you need help creating a Community Assessment.

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Championing the Staff Who Serve Our Youngest

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It’s essential to provide specialized professional development for the teaching staff who serve our infants and toddlers.  Whether you were recently awarded an Early Head Start/Child Care Partnerships grant or have had an Early Head Start program for years, providing effective training for your Early Head Start Teachers and Home Visitors is critical.

We’ve found that successful training in this area includes the following 3 points.

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The Parent, Family and Community Engagement (PFCE) Framework

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Creating Your Program’s Family Engagement Plan

Family participation is a powerful predictor of positive child outcomes and it directly impacts children’s school readiness.  The PFCE framework is a road map to create a comprehensive family engagement plan that will lead to positive outcomes for children and families.

Consider these items when creating your program’s family engagement plan.

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Essential Tips: Strategic Planning

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Three tips to facilitate your Strategic Planning initiative.

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Preparing for a Successful Health & Safety Federal Monitoring Review Event

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Have you begun to prepare for your Environmental Health & Safety Review Event? For many programs, Environmental Health & Safety is the first Review Event that you will receive in the newly aligned monitoring system. The new Environmental Health & Safety protocol details the items that will be a part of this Review Event. 

Read this article for information on several important items to focus on when preparing for a successful Health & Safety Review Event.

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Considerations When Conducting CLASS Observations

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As you know, it’s important to have high scores on your CLASS observations. High CLASS scores correlate with effective teaching practices. In addition, low CLASS scores is the leading cause of programs being placed in Recompetition. 

 When conducting CLASS observations, consider the following 3 points. . .

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Essential Tips: Writing Your 5 Year Grant Application

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Three tips for writing your 5 year grant application.

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Best Practices for Family Engagement

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It is essential that families are fully engaged in the lives of their children including helping their children become ready for school. Below are several examples of best practices in establishing family engagement in your program.

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Health and Safety: A Major Focus in Head Start

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While health and safety has always been emphasized in Head Start, it is more important than ever that you have systems in place to ensure that your program is in full compliance with all health and safety-related matters. Health and safety is a major focus of many of the newer parts of Head Start – 5 year grants, the newly aligned monitoring system and Recompetition.

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Key Points from the 2014 NHSA Fall Leadership Institute

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In case you weren’t able to attend the 2014 National Head Start Association Fall Leadership Institute last week, here is a list of the highlights. 

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A Summary of the Newly Aligned Monitoring System

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I’m sure that you’ve heard about the Newly Aligned Monitoring System. You may have reviewed the Virtual Expo or listened to the webinar. You’ve probably seen the new terms that have been introduced – HSKI-C, Differential monitoring, MEC, RFL, Review events. While it’s important to take time to explore the Virtual Expo, we thought that a summary of the key points of the Newly Aligned Monitoring System would be helpful.

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Essential Tips: Support for New Head Start Directors & New Content Area Managers

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Three tips on Support for New Head Start Directors & New Content Area Managers

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Taking a New Look at Policy Council and Board of Directors Training

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It’s hard to believe that summer is ending and a new school year is upon us! Along with classes and home visits starting up, it’ll soon be time for Policy Council and Board of Directors training.  While I’m sure that your governance training will include roles and responsibilities, performance standards, and leadership opportunities, consider also including the you'll find in this article.

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Mentor Coaching: A Key Ingredient of Ongoing Professional Development for Teachers

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Mentor coaching is a critical part of a comprehensive professional development plan. It provides teachers with hands-on support that is custom designed to meet each teacher’s needs. It builds each teacher’s capacity and fosters continuous improvement. And, finally, it raises CLASS scores.  

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Essential Tips: Supporting the Work of Our Home Visitors

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Three tips to ensure a safe and effective program for Home Visitors.

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Getting Back to Basics

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As we approach the 50th anniversary of Head Start, I think about how Head Start began – and it’s evolution over the years.  It’s important that Head Start staff is familiar with the history of Head Start – as well as its mission, vision and guiding principles.  Understanding the purpose and intent of Head Start provides staff with valuable information – and perspective - as they go about their daily work.

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The Life of a New Head Start Director

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Are you a new Head Start or Early Head Start Director?  Let me offer you my congratulations! This is a wonderful opportunity and, as I’m sure you’ve already found out, the beginning of an exciting journey. As a Head Start Director, you are responsible for ensuring that the children and families receive high quality services, that your program is fully compliant with all regulations, and that you provide great leadership to your staff.  I know what you’re saying…….. I have a million things on my to-do list… so many things to address.  Where do I start?

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Essential Tips: Creating Impactful Training for Your Staff

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Three tips to help you create impactful training.

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A Time for Reflective Supervision

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Reflective supervision and coaching is becoming more of a growing need in Head Start. The more we ask staff to be involved in the emotional needs of families, the more staff requires emotional support. Reflective supervision provides an opportunity to explore the many emotions and experiences that occur in a relationship – relationships between the supervisor and the staff person, between the staff person and the parent, and between the parent and the child. It is essential to understand how each of these relationships affects the other.

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Case Management: An Opportunity to Achieve Positive Family Outcomes

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The Family Service Worker is the first point of contact for our families. They play an essential role in your program, especially in the area of case management. Case management is a process that was not well-named as our families aren’t “cases” and our job is not to “manage” them.

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Teachers: Time to Reflect, Renew and Re-energize

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We are often asked how to keep good teachers motivated . . . as well as how to just keep them.  In the face of the many changes in Head Start, teachers have more data to collect, more paperwork to complete and more things to focus on than ever.  It is challenging to find ways to keep good teachers motivated to practice their craft and also to find ways to retain good teachers. 

We’ve found that successful teacher training in this area includes the following 3 points:

  • Reflect back on why teachers got into this field.  Take time to help teachers remember why they got into the teaching field.  Help them get back in touch with the joy that they experience from teaching children.  Reconnect your teachers with the feeling that they get when a child learns something because of their efforts, when children become ready for Kindergarten because of their skills, and when children learn to love school because of their talents.  
  • Renew our understanding of the new requirements in Head Start.  It’s true – the expectations for Head Start teachers are different than they used to be.  Because of CLASS and Recompetition, the focus for teachers has changed and they feel pressure to get high CLASS scores. 
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The Role of the Center Director

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Center Directors are instrumental in running a high quality Head Start and Early Head Start program.  The position of Center Director is like a mini-Program Director.  They are leaders of your centers – or as we like to call them, your “school readiness academies.”  

We’ve found that effective and efficient Center Directors take the following approach to running their center:

  • Strong leadership and accountability is the foundation.  Center Directors are the leader of their center and are ultimately responsible for everything that occurs there.  Roles and responsibilities of Center Directors include leading their staff, monitoring their center and data management, just to name a few.  Center Directors are charged with ensuring that school readiness and family engagement services are provided at their center. 
  • Excellent customer service is provided to everyone.  The Center Director is the point person for many people inside and outside of the program.  Interacting with children, parents, staff and community partners is an everyday occurrence for Center Directors.
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Effective Communication Results in Better Outcomes

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“It’s not what you said, it’s the way you said it.” How many times have you heard that? Poor communication is the cause of many challenges – challenges that can affect many areas of your program.  Child and family outcomes will not be as high as they could be if high-functioning relationships are not in place. Effective communication is critical for building relationships between teachers and families – and that includes both the children and their parents. Family service workers and home visitors must build strong relationships with parents. And communication is key to building successful working relationships between staff and co-workers.   

So, how can you solve communication problems? We focus on 3 factors that help build effective communication skills and successful relationships.

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Highlights from the NHSA Webinar – “Fiscal Year 2015 Budget”

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In case you weren’t able to view the March 11th National Head Start Association webinar on the Fiscal Year 2015 Budget, there were some interesting points of discussion and worthwhile news on upcoming opportunities. Items discussed include the increase in Head Start funding, the President’s 2015 budget proposal, upcoming opportunities, NHSA’s top advocacy priorities, and the NHSA’s advocacy plan for the next 2 months. See the bulleted highlights for the details.

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Tips for Preparing for a Successful Federal Monitoring Review

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Tip #1:  Have a comprehensive ongoing monitoring system in place.

The system should include an ongoing monitoring tool, calendar and procedure. Also be sure that your ongoing monitoring system includes a way to document the non-compliances that are found – and that they’re corrected in a timely manner.


Tip #2:  The Board of Directors & Policy Council

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Key Points from the Winter Leadership Institute

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In case you weren’t able to attend the 2014 National Head Start Association Winter Leadership Institute in DC last week, below are the highlights. 

 Update on the Sequester---

  • The sequester is being restored for Head Start in the 2014/2015 funding year and the expectation is that the 5.27% will be returned to Head Start programs.  It is most likely that Head Start will be flat funded for the next few years.

Update on Early Head Start - Child Care Funding Opportunities---

$500 million dollars will be made available for Early Head Start – Child Care partnerships.  The priorities for these new monies are partnerships with child care facilities and initiatives to ensure a smooth transition as children leave Early Head Start.  A big part of the application will be how much

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Getting Ahead of the Game

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About 2 weeks ago, we received great news that Head Start received a 1 billion dollar boost in its funding.  While we don’t know a lot of specifics yet, we’ve been told that the monies that were reduced by sequestration will be restored.  We’ve also been told that 500 million dollars of the monies will be for Early Head Start – Child Care partnerships

 Before we receive more information, it’s time to get your ducks in a row.  When the funding opportunities are posted, we’re expecting a short timeline to write the grant application.  We’ve found that there’s a lot you can do now to be in good shape when the grant opportunities are posted. 

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Here are my CLASS Scores ... Now What?

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A client recently asked me, “How do I raise my Instructional Support scores?” You’ve certainly heard a lot about the importance of high CLASS scores. In Head Start, they are the measure of high quality classrooms and are tied to Recompetition. Your staff conducts CLASS observations and the scores are then shared with all. If your program is like most programs, your lowest scores are in the area of instructional support. So now, what can you do to improve those scores?

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A Good Community Assessment is Essential

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Do you make decisions for your program without enough data? It happens. More frequently than you think. Here are a few thoughts to consider ...

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Sequestration Brings Opportunity

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Sequestration is one of the most recent challenges for Head Start and Early Head Start programs.  I believe that now is the time for Head Start and Early Head Start programs to create both a short-term and long-term plan to address sequestration.

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