Top Ten Requested Training Topics

There are measurable benefits of in-service training and consistent professional development opportunities throughout the year.  People take in new information a little at a time.  While pre-service is a good time to provide staff with training, it is just a few days of the year. Consider instead of presenting a lot of information at once, creating multiple training opportunities for staff.  Creating a multi-layered plan to provide training to staff throughout the year, will lay a foundation of learning that can be built upon – a little at a time.  This allows for effective learning.

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.

Our top ten most popular in-service training topics:

  • Creating High Quality Classrooms with a CLASS-based approach.
  • Implementing Science in the Classroom.
  • Becoming Trauma Informed – Successfully Managing Difficult Behaviors.
  • In the Door and on the Floor – Best practices for Home Visiting.
  • How to Have Hard Conversations (with families or staff).
  • Developing Significant and Supportive Relationships – CLASS-based Emotional Support Training.
  • The “Well Oiled Machine” – CLASS-based Classroom Organization Training
  • Promoting High Level Thinking – CLASS-based Instructional Support Training.
  • Building Effective Family Partnerships Using a Strength-based Case Management Approach
  • Early Learning Outcomes Framework – How to Naturally Integrate ELOF with Curriculum and Classroom Practices.

You can learn more about our full list of training topics and services at

Please call us at (704) 451-3255 or email us at to discuss your mid-year in-service training needs for the 2019-2020 school year.

The Data That Comes From CLASS Observations

Are you looking for someone to come to your program and conduct CLASS observations for the 2019-2020 school year? Are you preparing for a federal CLASS review?

At Essential Elements, we conduct CLASS observations for Head Start programs.  As outside observers, we have the objectivity needed to observe classrooms without the possibility of bias. Whether you are struggling with the complexity of the Instructional Support Domain, or you have discovered, that as you focused on raising scores in Instructional Support, your scores have slipped in Classroom Organization or Emotional Support, we can assist you!

The data that comes from CLASS observations is invaluable… provided the observations are conducted by objective certified CLASS observers and the CLASS tool is implemented with fidelity.

We conduct comprehensive CLASS observations that include the following items:

  • Certified CLASS observers with extensive live observation experience and consistent reliability using the CLASS tool. We have English-speaking and bilingual (English/Spanish) observers.
  • A debrief with each teacher is provided after the observation in order to give them immediate feedback (strengths and opportunities for improvement).
  • The opportunity for your Education Coordinator or Mentor Coach to sit in on the debriefings with teachers – for continuity purposes.
  • The opportunity for your Education Coordinator or Mentor Coach to “double code” with one of our observers to calibrate scoring.
  • A debrief with the Head Start Director (and your Management team if you wish) to discuss the results of the observations.
  • We will provide you with CLASS scores for each classroom observed, a written summary of individual classrooms, highlighting strengths and recommendations for improvements that can be used by your staff for professional development, and a list of program-wide issues that are causing lower CLASS scores, as well as recommendations to address and correct those issues.
  • In addition, we can offer a highly interactive and custom designed CLASS training based on the results of your classroom observations, that targets the domains and dimensions that scored the lowest in the CLASS observations.

To learn more or schedule your CLASS observation, contact Kristine Cortina at (704) 451-3255 or You can learn more about our services at

Addressing Second-Hand Trauma in the Workplace

It takes courage and commitment to work with the most vulnerable children and families in our communities. With more and more Head Start and Early Head Start programs serving higher-risk families, it’s not surprising that staff are also experiencing an increase in second-hand trauma. Data confirms an increase in the number of families reporting involvement with child welfare agencies, alcohol and drug dependency, domestic violence, mental illness, grandparents raising grandchildren, poor health, and housing insecurity. Working daily with children and families experiencing trauma profoundly affects our well-being as well as our ability to take care of ourselves and others.

This highly interactive and custom designed training will address:

  • Examine burnout, second-hand trauma, and compassion fatigue;
  • Describe how different individuals may experience stress and secondary trauma;
  • Provide an opportunity for self-assessment and personal reflection;
  • Use a multidimensional approach to prevention;
  • Explore evidence-based intervention strategies;
  • Identify signs of organizational stress and consider how to build a healthier workplace.

Becoming aware of the signs of second-hand trauma and having a toolbox of strategies to take care of yourself allows the staff take care of our at-risk children and families.

Looking for a training for your staff on “Addressing Second-Hand Trauma in the Workplace”?  Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at

Training on “Creating High Quality Classrooms”

This highly interactive training will address how to provide high quality, school readiness-focused services for Head Start children. Designing and implementing a high quality classroom requires thoughtful intention and a strong knowledge base. Of all of the “essential elements” of high quality classrooms, we find that the ones that many Head Start classrooms find challenging and need additional support include (1) Small Group Instruction; (2) Engaging Children in Conversation during Mealtimes; (3) Effective Transitions; and (4) Intentionality during Center Time.

This custom designed training will address the following topics:

  • Small Group Instruction
    Small group time can greatly benefit a child’s school readiness.  It is an opportunity for teachers to spend intentional, focused instructional time with students in specific skill areas.  We will address and model what effective small group instruction looks like in a Head Start classroom.  The key elements of small group instruction are creating groups based on need; direct instruction that is planned and based on observations and children’s data; and high levels of student engagement and interaction.  Small group time is also a critical time for teachers to assess where children are in their learning process.
  • Engaging Children in Conversation during Mealtimes
    Developing early language is essential to a child’s development as well as to school readiness. It allows children to successfully engage in socialization and learn from their natural environments.  We will focus on helping teachers develop a strong knowledge base on language development in young children. The training will empower the teaching staff in their role in supporting each child’s language development. Meals are an excellent opportunity to engage children in conversation.  We will share specific strategies to show how to effectively promote language during mealtime. Open-ended questions, repetition as well as extension and self- and parallel talk will be a part of the demonstration.
  • Effective Transitions
    Children benefit greatly from knowing what to expect throughout their day and the classroom setting demands that children move through many transitions each day. Reducing the number of transitions as well as keeping the children informed of the upcoming change helps them feel safe and in control. And, when children feel safe, they learn better and are more able to control their actions and behavior. We will leave the teachers with a transition toolkit and a variety of activities to use with children throughout the day.
  • Intentionality during Center Time
    Effective learning is achieved when children are fully engaged. This occurs when children are actively involved and energized during center time. The centers should capture children’s inquiry, promote creativity and encourage problem-solving skills. Equally important is the intention on the part of the teacher. Intentional teaching is always thinking about what you are doing and how it will foster children’s development. We will model how to interact with children during center time with children’s outcomes in mind and seek out every opportunity to help children progress on their road to school readiness.

Looking for a training for your staff on “Creating High Quality Classrooms”?  Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at

Keynote or Training: “Reflect, Renew and Re-energize … Why We Work with Head Start Children and Families

Are you looking for a keynote or training to motivate and inspire your staff regarding the important work that they do for children and families?

This highly inspiring training will focus on helping the staff remember the incredible program that Head Start and Early Head Start is… and why they have chosen to work in this exciting field.  This highly engaging training will renew our understanding of what a high quality Head Start program is as well as reclaiming the passion and joy for the important work that the staff do every day!

This highly motivating keynote or training will address:

  • Reflect back on why we got into this field.
    We will take time to help the staff remember why they work in Head Start.  The training will help them get back in touch with the joy that they experience from working with at-risk children and families.  We will reconnect your staff with the feeling that they get when a child learns something because of their efforts, when a family reaches a goal… to assist staff in getting in touch with the impact that they have in serving the children and families.  No matter what position the staff has, they are an essential piece of the puzzle to achieve school readiness and family engagement.
  • Renew our understanding of the new requirements in Head Start.
    It’s true – the expectations for Head Start staff are different than they used to be.  Because of CLASS, data-driven decision making and Recompetition, the focus for staff has changed as well as the pressure that this brings.  Staff have to collect more data and fill out more paperwork.  The reality, however, is that there are new requirements in Head Start and it’s important to accept them.
  • Re-energize the staff to accept the changes in Head Start and reclaim their passion for delivering high quality services to children and families.
    This training will let the staff know that we acknowledge that they have different responsibilities than they did in the past.  We’ll address that, because the face of Head Start has changed, there are new expectations for staff.  While these changes are numerous and challenging, they are here to stay and it’s important that we accept and embrace them.  The training will help the staff reclaim the passion they have for their job in Head Start – to remind them of why they work in Head Start and why their daily efforts are so important in the lives of young children and families.

Looking for a keynote or training for your staff on “Reflect, Renew and Re-energize: Why We Work with Head Start Children and Families?”  Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at

Creating Realistic, Specific and Measurable Goals with Families

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 work with families. Have a good working relationship with each family 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.

We believe that individualized Family Partnership Agreements are living documents and must be reflective of the people involved in setting the goals. It is important that Family Partnership Agreements are intentional, purposeful and based on the strengths and needs of each family. Family Partnership Agreements are about the relationship with the family – not the form it is written on.

This highly interactive training is an opportunity for your Family Service Workers and Home Visitors to learn new strategies as it pertains to effective goal setting with families – and practice those skills during the training.

This practice-based training will address how to set realistic, meaningful and measurable goals as well as create individualized Family Partnership Agreements. The training includes addressing topics such as:

  • Build the relationship first. Engage and build connection with families by allowing adequate time for conversation and listening with an open mind. Hearing what families are saying is vital. It is important that staff spend time getting to know each family member as an individual and work to establish a comfort level with each one. This time allows staff to discover what the family is all about and what is important to them. The key is to begin this relationship at application and enrollment, building it consistently and authentically.
  • Initiate “rich” conversations with families. This training teaches the participants the stages of a helping relationship. Initiate “rich” conversations with families that get to the heart of where families are and where they want to be. This includes the family’s own timeline for goals and needs. Create a safe environment for parents to share their strengths and open up about areas of challenge. Know what questions to ask families in order to gain critical information to set goals.
  • Create goals that are specific, realistic and measurable. We believe that Family Partnership Agreements are not just something to complete in order to check it off of your to-do list. Family Partnership Agreements are living documents that must be intentional and individualized for each family. As this process is often something that is uncomfortable for staff, this training includes suggested language to use when setting goals with families as well as a hands-on demonstration of the process. Staff should work in partnership with parents to create goals that are realistic and measurable – and broken down into specific steps that can be attained.

Work with parents to set them up for success throughout the goal setting process. Recognize parents’ role as their child’s first and most important teacher.

Are you looking for on-site, custom designed training on Creating Realistic, Specific and Measurable Goals with Families? Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at

CLASS Training to Increase Your Instructional Support Scores

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.

This hands-on training will discuss and demonstrate specific strategies for each of the indicators and behavioral markers under each of the dimensions within Instructional Support.Utilizing the teachers’ daily schedule, we will provide concrete strategies on how to attain high CLASS scores in Instructional Support. This targeted training will focus on ways to implement Instructional Support throughout the day. We will demonstrate how to naturally incorporate high scoring Instructional Support during large group activities, small group activities, center time, transitions and routines, meals… every part of the Head Start day!

This custom designed training will include items such as:

  • Analysis and Reasoning: Learn how to integrate the “how” and “why” of children’s learning.
  • Integration: Learn how to effectively make meaningful connections from new to prior learning.
  • Scaffolding: Learn how to provide assistance, feedback and questioning to assist children in continuing to learn and work at a higher level.
  • Feedback Loops: Learn how to increase language through sustained conversations, comments and follow-up questions in supporting a higher level of insight and comprehension.
  • Repetition & Extension: Learn how to acknowledge and build on each child’s unique ideas and contributions to a lesson or conversation.
  • Self- & Parallel Talk: Learn how to best map both your actions & the children’s actions as a means for language modeling.

The entirety of the training will be framed in terms of the Head Start classroom – including what a “7” looks like for each of the indicators and behavioral markers under Instructional Support. We will offer practice-based strategies to increase CLASS scores in each of these indicators and behavioral markers. We will address best practices as it pertains to teaching behaviors and interactions.

If your program’s scores are lowest in Emotional Support or Classroom Organization, we can focus on that domain instead.

A variety of learning styles will be explored such as videos, role plays, small group activities, pair and share, question and answer sessions, and other interactive exercises. The participants in this training will have many hands-on opportunities to see what high-scoring Instructional Support looks like – as adult learning is best when the participants can see, feel and experience the information that is being presented.

Are you looking for highly interactive and custom designed “CLASS Training to Increase Your Instructional Support Scores”? Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at

Highly Interactive and Custom Designed Pre-service Training

Are you looking for highly interactive and practice-based training for Pre-service? Are you looking for training that provides your staff with the knowledge and skills that they need to provide high quality services to the children and families that they serve?

We provide highly interactive and practice-based training for Teaching staff, Family Service Workers, Home Visitors, Center Directors and Management teams. After we have a conference call with you to find out the results that you’re looking for, we will custom design the training to meet your program’s specific needs.

We utilize a “learning by doing” training methodology. Our trainings consist of a lot of discussion and hands-on learning activities, including pair and share, small group activities, role pays, question and answer sessions, and interactive exercises. While our trainings also include a PowerPoint presentation, our focus is on engaging the participants. Our training methodology is based on the principles of adult learning. This results in high impact learning, in which the staff can take back the information that they learned and implement it immediately.

We provide custom designed training for Teaching staff, Family Service Workers, Home Visitors, Center Directors and Management teams. Examples of our training topics include:

Teaching Staff:

  • Increasing CLASS scores
  • Managing Children’s Challenging Behaviors: Becoming Trauma Informed
  • Engaging Learners through Intentional teaching
  • Health, Nutrition and Mental Health Activities in the Classroom
  • Positive Teacher/Child Interactions
  • Math in the Early Childhood Classroom
  • Interpreting Data to Drive Instruction
  • Preventing Power Struggles
  • Promoting Language and Learning
  • Writing In-Depth and Individualized Lesson Plans & Anecdotal Notes

Family Service Workers:

  • Building Strong Relationships with Families
  • Meaningful Family Engagement
  • Effective Goal Setting with Families using Motivational Interviewing
  • Case Management
  • How to Have Hard Conversations with Staff and Families
  • Implementing the Parent, Family and Community Engagement (PFCE) Framework
  • Time management and Organizational skills
  • Working with Challenging Families
  • Taking Care of Yourself and Your Families

Home Visitors:

  • In the Door & On the Floor: Home Visits that Work
  • Home as a Child Development Environment
  • Successful Socializations
  • How to Conduct a Home Visit
  • Safety and Awareness
  • Establishing Boundaries
  • The Home Visitor as the Coach


  • Mentor Coaching training
  • Leadership Development
  • Supervising Your Staff
  • Early Head Start Training: Baby Steps to School Readiness
  • Working with Infants and Toddlers
  • Building Strong Leaders at Your Centers
  • Team Building
  • Reflective Supervision
  • Reflect, Renew & Re-energize: Why We Work with Head Start Children and Families

***For a full list of training topics, please email us at or view our website at

Are you looking for an energizing and inspiring keynote to kick off your Pre-service? It’s a great opportunity to bring your Head Start and Early Head Start staff together and get everyone 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. A focus on going 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.

We will custom design a keynote that will meet the needs of your program. Examples of our keynote topics include:

  • Reflect, Renew & Re-energize: Why We Work with Head Start Children and Families
  • Creating School-Ready Children and Self-Sufficient Families
  • Establishing an Expectation of Excellence
  • Building Strong Leaders to Serve Our Children and Families
  • Taking Care of Yourself in order to Serve Children and Families

Are you looking for highly interactive and custom designed training or an inspiring and energizing keynote for your upcoming Pre-service? Book ASAP as dates go quickly! Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at

Developing a Successful Mentor Coaching Plan

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

Mentor coaching is a great opportunity to provide teachers with guidance and support as it pertains to successful teaching strategies. It allows teachers to receive constructive feedback as well as to see effective teaching behaviors through modeling. The feedback and modeling of high quality teacher practices is directly related to the teacher’s mentor coaching goals – which is aligned with your program’s school readiness goals.

Our mentor coaching services are based on the principles of Practice-Based Coaching.  Our services will guide your Head Start Teachers toward improved implementation of best practices through observation, feedback, collaboration and goal-setting.  The components of our mentor coaching services include:

  • Planning goals and action steps;
  • Engaging in focused observations; and
  • Reflecting on and sharing feedback about teaching practices.

We provide on-site mentor coaching services for teaching staff utilizing the principles of Practice-Based Coaching.  We observe teaching interactions in the classrooms and provide strengths-based mentor coaching services.  We begin by developing trusting, collaborative relationships with each Teacher and we ask the Teachers complete a needs assessment.  We will then use that information to create individualized mentor coaching goals with each Teacher.

We will spend time observing in each of the identified classrooms and provide the Teachers with feedback from the observation.  We will provide each Teacher with the strengths (high-scoring behaviors) as well as opportunities for improvement (low-scoring behaviors) from the observations.  We will then spend time addressing, problem-solving and correcting the areas of concern (as it relates to CLASS).  We will model high scoring interactions and effective teaching practices.  We will also provide each Teacher with guidance, support and encouragement.  We provide content-specific feedback in order to build a strong partnership.  Our strengths-based approach to mentor coaching allows us to have “hard conversations” with Teachers on areas that need improvement.

Each of the mentor coaching services listed above includes guidance and support that is custom designed to meet the specific needs of your staff. It builds capacity and fosters continuous support. And, finally, it raises CLASS scores.

We also offer training for Mentor Coaches on how to implement a successful mentor coaching program.

Are you looking for on-site Mentor Coaching services or training on Mentor Coaching? Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at

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

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times…… data is the driving force of decision-making. Effective Head Start programs have a culture of data-driven decision making.  This is the process of making decisions based on the analysis of your programmatic information. As you consider multiple data sources (CLASS data, child assessment data, etc.) and analyze the results, you’re able to create changes that increase overall program quality and improve child outcomes.

Teachers play a critical role in the process through the use of ongoing assessment data to guide classroom instruction.  Observing and gathering assessment information for every child is the starting point for decision-making in the classroom. After observing, recording and reflecting, the data is used to drive instruction – and individualize for each child by creating learning goals.

This highly interactive and practice-based training:

  • Demonstrates the assessment-instruction cycle – focused observations, interpreting data, adapting and modifying instruction, and engaging families.
  • Shows Teachers how to be intentional with every step in the assessment-instructional cycle, increasing their interpretive skills in order to monitor and support children’s progress.
  • Provides Teachers with hands-on opportunities to make data-driven decisions for their classroom.

We also offer data training for Management staff that focuses on getting the most out of your program’s data… (1) strategies to interpret data, (2) how to effectively coach front-line staff as they collect and use data to drive instruction in the classrooms, and (3) how to tell the story of your program’s data.

Are you looking for highly interactive and custom designed training on “Interpreting Data to Drive Instruction: Data-Driven Decision Making for Teachers & Management Staff?” Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at