On The Road Again

We are so excited to be back on the road offering in-person training.  So many of our clients have expressed the desire for in-person training and we are happy to be able to provide it.  While live virtual trainings and webinars have filled a necessary void during the pandemic there are many advantages to in-person training.

  • Your trainer has the opportunity to read nonverbal cues. They can read the audience and adapt the training to best meet your program’s needs.
  • Trainings can be more interactive. Participants have a more active role.  They can practice the content that they are learning during the training.
  • Virtual trainings can be prone to distraction. The phone may ring; someone may stop by the office, causing the participant to lose focus.
  • Team building. In-person training allows your team to come together, building comradery. They can share experiences and learn from each other.
  • Trainings should have content that is customized to the specific needs of your program. Webinars are not customized, and the information can be outdated.

 

We recognize that many of our clients are not yet in the position to have in-person trainings or have found that they fill a need for their program, so we will continue offering our synchronous virtual trainings.

We are currently scheduling training for both in-service and pre-service as well as live CLASS™ Observations.  For information on our training topics please contact Susan Witek at (704)277-7473 or view our services.

Finding The Support Service You Need

While Essential Elements is well-known for our highly effective and interactive training, we offer many additional support services. Our clients have relied on these services for many years. Now, as staffing shortages and the need for classroom coverage have greatly reduced time and personnel available to complete compliance tasks internally, clients are turning to EE for external support.

Is it time to write your grant application? Let us take out the guess work and do it for you. We can write a comprehensive strengths-based grant application (whether it is a refunding application, a re-competition application or a 5-year baseline application).

Our grant writers have a long history of successful grant writing and consulting for Head Start and Early Head Start programs as well as other early childcare and education programs. For the past 20 years, our grant writers have procured grant funds and contracts from local, state, and federal funding sources, and currently have a 100% funding success rate.

Is your Community Assessment up to date with new census data and COVID related data? If not, we can help with that!

We create community assessments and community assessment updates for many of our clients. Our data collection process includes a combination of internal and external data, both qualitative and quantitative data. In addition to a comprehensive analysis of the data (graphs, charts, and key findings for each piece of data), your Community Assessment will include items such as an Introduction, Methodology, Executive Summary, Program Summary, Map of your Community, Description of your Community and a List of Community Resources, just to name a few. Our community assessments go far beyond simply meeting the required element of the Head Start Performance Standards.  We include data unique to your program to make this the “go to” resource document for your program.

Can’t find the time to complete a Wage Comparison Study, Annual report, Strategic Planning, Curriculum Fidelity Check, or write a Policy and Procedure Manual? We’ve got you covered!

You can learn more about these and other support services online.

Please call us at (704) 277-7473 or email us at susanwitek@hsessentials.com to discuss how we can support you.

 

New Year, New Training Opportunities with Essential Elements

The New Year is a great time to assess your program’s strengths and areas where there are opportunities for improvement. While it is a new calendar year, your Teaching staff, Policy Council, Governing Board, Family Service Workers, Management Staff and Support staff are halfway through the program year. This is the perfect time to take stock and “fine tune.”

If you have identified a need to strengthen family partnerships, assist teaching staff with challenging behaviors, create more effective transitions, increase Classroom Organization or Instructional Support scores, or strengthen your staff’s ability to interpret data to drive instruction, the second half of the program year is the perfect time for an in-service training. Implementing trainings to address identified areas for improvement as they are occurring is far more effective than waiting for the next year’s pre-service trainings.

Don’t wait, schedule your training while the year’s challenges are current and fresh in the minds of staff.

Our most requested in-service training topics amidst this year’s unique challenges are:

  • How to Have Hard Conversations (with families or staff).
  • Working with Challenging Families.
  • Change Your Questions, Change Your Life.
  • Self-Care and Team Building.
  • The “Well Oiled” Machine” (CLASS™-based Classroom Organization training).
  • Asking the Juicy Questions (CLASS™-based Instructional Support training).
  • Building Successful Relationships with Families-(navigating making connections during a pandemic).
  • Recognizing and Addressing Compassion Fatigue
  • CLASS™ The Heart of Teaching

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

Are CLASS™ Observations Important This School Year?

The answer is a definitive yes. And we can help with that.

Most of our clients have faced the challenges of re-openings in January following the winter break amidst another COVID variant, staffing shortages and classroom closures. Directors, Education Managers, Teaching staff and Support staff are having to wear many hats, making it challenging to complete the tasks outlined in their job duties.

If you and your staff are struggling with finding the time to complete internal CLASS™ observations, consider the benefits of external observations. Forgoing CLASS™ observations until staff are available to conduct observations can have a cumulative negative impact on CLASS™ scores. Without the data that comes from comprehensive CLASS™ observations, data driven decision making is impacted. Teaching staff can drift from best teaching practices and the goals set forth from previous observations and coaching.

We are currently conducting comprehensive CLASS™ observations, remotely.  Programs can videotape 20-minute cycles of their classrooms and upload the videos to a secure drive, specific to your program.  Our Certified CLASS™ observers with extensive live observation experience and consistent reliability using the CLASS™ tool, will then observe and score your videos.  We will provide you with:

  • A debrief with the Head Start Director (and your management team if you wish) to discuss the results of the observations.
  • CLASS™ scores for each classroom observed.
  • An Excel spreadsheet with scores from all classrooms and a comparison to the Head Start Grantee competitive threshold and quality threshold.
  • A written summary of individual classrooms, highlighting strengths and recommendations for improvements that can be used by your staff for professional development.
  • A list of program-wide issues that are causing lower CLASS™ scores, as well as recommendations to address and correct those issues.

We are also available to conduct live, in-person observations providing the above-mentioned data for those programs that are able to invite observers into their classrooms.

To learn more or schedule your CLASS™ observations, contact Kristine Cortina at (704) 451-3255 or kristinecortina@hsessentials.com.  You can learn more about our other services at www.HSEssentials.com.

In-Service Training

It has been a busy pre-service training season for Essential Elements and our clients! The Office of Head Start has indicated that programs should be at full capacity by January of 2022 and Federal reviews will soon resume.

With that in mind, now is the time to plan for in-service training. Here is what some of our clients and staff had to say about a few of our most requested training topics during the pre-service season:

Understanding Class™ to Increase CLASS™ Scores – This was one of the best trainings ever! It was difficult sitting still for two days, but I have great reminders, new ideas, and most of all the desire to have a great year using what we have been taught! The presenter kept us engaged and thinking about how and why we do every part of our day. :)Thank you for setting up this training. I am sure it was expensive, but the payoff could be priceless. :)” ~ Head Start teacher

Creating High Quality Classrooms-I think today was fabulous! I love the trainer’s personality and training style. She injects humor and reality into content that makes her very relatable and genuine. Her infusion/integration of Conscious Discipline, CLASS and Head Start knowledge is perfect.” ~ Education manager

High Quality Care for Infants and Toddlers-The trainer was amazing, best training ever and I learned so much.” ~ EHS Teacher

Economic Mobility for Head Start Families-This training was exceptional and far exceeded my expectations…really excellent, relevant and useful information!” ~ PFCE Manger

School Readiness for Early Head Start and Head Start Professionals-Great session; it was clear and easy to follow.  I would sign up for sessions with this presenter and encourage others to attend.” ~ EHS Teacher

COVID-19 Strengthening Routines and Procedures- “We sincerely appreciate Essential Elements. The presenter did a fantastic job of connecting with the staff during the keynote and all other training sessions. I thoroughly enjoyed sitting in on the training sessions and I learned quite a bit! I’d love to partner with Essential Elements in the future to provide more in-depth training to our staff in the areas of leadership, PBC, and EHS Services. Again, thank you for your support and I look forward to partnering with you soon.” ~ Vice President of Early Childhood Services

In case we missed you during pre-service, we offer the above trainings for in-service professional development virtually and in person. Here is a complete list of our training topics and services.

 

How CLASSY Is Your Staff?

As you plan to reopen and welcome your children and staff back, it is a good time to assess how aware your staff is regarding CLASS™.  For those of you who will be welcoming many new staff members, it may be time to introduce them to the domains and dimensions.  If you have a tenured staff returning, it may be the perfect time to take a deeper dive into CLASS™.  All of the dimensions are braided together to support children’s learning and development and are equally important.  Recognizing the relationships among the dimensions and domains is important when working to increase scores.

Just as no two staff’s requirements are the same, no two CLASS™ trainings should be the same. Our highly interactive and practice-based trainings are custom designed to meet the specific needs of your teaching staff.  Your training can cover the basics of all of the domains or dimensions – or it can focus on specific domains or dimensions.  Perhaps you want to focus on implementing CLASS™ across the classroom day, or maybe you want to look at what CLASS™ looks like in small groups or a whole group.  With our training you get to choose the lens through which you look at CLASS™.

We are excited to once again offer on-site CLASS™ based trainings and continue to offer virtual trainings. Our CLASS™ trainings show what high scoring (and low scoring) classrooms look like.  Hands-on activities may include small-group activities; pair and share; role plays; interactive activities.  All trainings include plenty of opportunity for question and answers.

For more information on our CLASS™ based trainings, or any of our other trainings and services, contact Susan Witek at (704)277-7473 or email susanwitek@hsessentials.com.

Creating Pathways for Economic Mobility

Family economic mobility is a core aspect of Family Well-being, one of the seven Family Outcomes in the Parent, Family, and Community Engagement (PFCE) Framework.

The Head Start Program Performance Standards state that programs must integrate parent and family engagement strategies into all services to “support family well-being” and “address prevalent needs of families” (HSPPS 1302.50). With the uncertainty and many changes surrounding the last year in our society, this support has become even more important, especially in the area of economic well-being.

The health issues of COVID-19 resulted in unemployment, reduced hours, challenging childcare situations, and other related concerns for our Head Start families. The families and children we serve, have faced economic, health and resource challenges prior to the pandemic, now our families confront a variety of additional tough situations. They need the strong and constructive support of their Home Visitors and Family Advocates more than ever.

The Essential Elements training on Economic Mobility will allow your staff to learn how to:

  1. Build capacity to support families who struggle with economic insecurity.
  2. Partner with families to set and achieve goals for financial strength.
  3. Empower their education and to inspire employment advancement.
  4. Locate resources to support further learning and development.

Through the use of the Head Start Parent, Family and Community Engagement Framework and other tools specific to Head Start families, the Essential Elements Economic Mobility training can strengthen your program and support your efforts as you work to benefit the children and families that you serve.

 

 

 

A Different Look at Pre-service Professional Development

classroomPre-service season is fast approaching and here at Essential Elements, we are more than a little excited to be able to offer both in-person and virtual training for all of our training topics. Our trainers are ready to travel or meet with you virtually. We are gearing up for a very busy pre-service professional development season! We have added a few circumstantial topics to our available trainings:

  • Helping Children Feel Safe in Today’s Society: COVID-19 and Racism
  • COVID-19 impact: Strengthening Routines and Procedures as Children Return to the Classroom
  • Partnering with Families to Navigate the Challenges Presented by COVID-19

 

Many of our clients have identified an increased need for CLASS based training after shutdowns, staff turnover, and virtual learning. As teaching staff and children return to the classroom, there are quite a few new challenges, including within the CLASS framework. How do we continue to offer emotional support with distancing and masks? How do we support student autonomy during meals, without family style meals and the ability to have children set tables or pass out food? With cross contamination guidelines, how do we continue to offer students choice of materials?

We have worked with our clients’ program staff to provide tools and resources to continue to create high quality classrooms and learning environments within state and local restrictions and the CLASS framework. We can frame your training based on management observation and internal or external CLASS scores.

We have also heard from clients that their Family Service Workers and Home Visiting staff have struggled with partnering with families virtually, making an already challenging position much more difficult.

Consider a customized training that addresses both self-care for these amazing providers, and the challenges these professionals are facing in delivering needed services to families and children. Let’s address how to create that “bridge” for families to connect after the last year of restrictions and difficulties.

We at EE are so impressed with all of you who have continued to support Head Start and Early Head Start children and families during these unprecedented circumstances, often while struggling yourselves. Each of you are that touchstone, making a monumental difference in the lives of the children and families you serve.

For a complete list of training topics, please visit our training page.

Jump Start Your In-Service Training With A Virtual Boost

training topicsFor most of our clients, providing services to our Head Start and Early Head Start children and families has taken on a very different look than in the past. Some programs are operating on a solely virtual basis, others have reduced size classrooms while other have re-opened with a hybrid schedule. Many programs have re-opened only to have to shut down again due to COVID 19. All of our interactions with children and families have been impacted.

There are measurable benefits of in-service training and consistent professional development opportunities throughout the year. As new challenges arise during the year and new areas for growth are identified, virtual training sessions can help staff to tackle these challenges and address potential growth areas as they are occurring, instead of waiting for the pre-service season. 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, while addressing current struggles as they are happening.

Our trainings are customized to your program’s current needs and available in a virtual format. We have added some training topics to address the needs of our clients and the struggles resulting from COVID 19 restrictions. Below are some of our most requested topics from clients after reopening:

  • Facilitating Small Group Instruction – With social distancing requirements, much of classroom time is spent in small groups. This training focuses on the shift from whole group instruction to small groups and how to maximize teacher/child interactions while facilitating learning.
  • Helping Children Feel Safe in Today’s Society: Covid 19 and Racism – This training generates in-depth discussion while taking an honest look at systemic racism and its impact on children and families.
  • Increasing Instructional Support Scores Within a More Restrictive Environment – This training focuses on strategies to capitalize on opportunities that are available throughout the day, (even amid restrictions), to promote children’s higher-order thinking skills and increase learning, with facilitation of conversation and exploration of ideas, (asking those juicy questions!)
  • Change Your Questions Change Your Life – Examine your work relationships and communications with a new perspective. Do you approach interactions from a Learner or a Judger approach? Dig deeper to understand motivations, plan for difficult discussions, and create agendas based on goals that will open up communication, build collaboration and increase problem-solving.  (Certified Trainer).

 

See the training area of our website for more information on topics.

 

Is There Value in Conducting Virtual CLASS Observations?

CLASS observationsThe answer is yes! While most of us would prefer live observations, for many of our clients, this is not possible due to COVID 19 restrictions. Forgoing CLASS observations until such time that restrictions are lifted can have a cumulative negative impact on CLASS scores. Without the data that comes from comprehensive CLASS observations, data driven decision making is impacted. Teaching staff can drift from best teaching practices and the goals set forth from previous observations and coaching. Virtual CLASS observations will not only guard against drift; our clients have found the following additional benefits to virtual observations while operating during COVID 19:

  • Having access to uploaded video-taped teaching cycles adds an additional tool for Education Managers and Coaches to use when working with teaching staff on professional development.
  • More time to work with teaching staff using the classroom summaries, recommendations for improvement and video segments we provide, due to reduced class sizes and hours of operation.
  • The ability to target an underscoring content area of the day and obtain objective feedback from outside observers without bias. Meals are a prime example of a challenge directly related to new guidelines. For most, family style meals have been eliminated and teaching staff are struggling with how to implement meaningful teacher/child interactions as they pertain to CLASS during this time. We can provide feedback and recommendations on how to increase scores in this area within current restrictions.

 

Whether you are looking for program-wide observations inclusive of all activities during the day or want to focus observations and feedback on times and activities that are proving the most challenging for teachers, by nature of the virtual format, we can customize your observations to fit your program needs.

We are currently conducting comprehensive CLASS observations, remotely.  Programs can videotape 20-minute cycles of their classrooms and upload the videos to a secure drive, specific to your program.  Our Certified CLASS observers with extensive live observation experience and consistent reliability using the CLASS tool, will then observe and score your videos.  We will provide you with:

  • 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.

We are also available to conduct live, in-person observations for those programs that are able to invite observers into their classrooms.

To learn more or schedule your CLASS observation, contact Kristine Cortina at (704) 451-3255 or kristinecortina@hsessentials.com.  You can learn more about our other services at www.HSEssentials.com.