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.

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.

You’ve Reopened – Now What?

head start reopeningMany of our Head Start programs have reopened, with more planning to open soon.  The rules of the game have changed and very few have the playbook.   The concerns in the classroom are real:

  • With no hugs or high fives, and smiles hidden behind masks, how can we provide a learning environment that encourages emotional connections?
  • With all of the restrictions on distance and groupings, how can we remain flexible and student-focused?
  • Routines and transitions take so much more time now, how can we make the most of that time?
  • The tendency to say “no” or “stop” is real. Teachers are feeling that they are consistently redirecting children’s behaviors.  How can we frame this in a positive manner?
  • The staff is stressed; what can we do to support them?

All of Essential Elements’ trainings are now offered virtually. As Head Start professionals welcome children back to classrooms that look far different than anyone could have imagined just a year ago, we would like to help. In addition to the topics on our website, our trainers have been developing content that is relevant to the current issues Head Start professionals are experiencing as they reopen.

Below are our most requested topics from programs searching for ways to support staff as their programs reopen, as well as the issues families face while addressing the very real impact and consequences the pandemic and racial tension brought to our programs across the country.

  • Emotional Support to Foster Exploration and Learning during Covid-19
  • Remaining Student-Focused Despite the Increased Need for Structure
  • The Well-Oiled Machine – Classroom Organization
  • Managing Challenging Behaviors
  • Becoming Trauma Informed and Recognizing Secondary Trauma
  • Helping Children Feel Safe in Today’s Society-COVID 19 and Racism Becoming Trauma Informed – Responsive Caregiving
  • Linking the Classroom to Home
  • How to Have Hard Conversations with Families
  • Reflect, Renew & Reenergize: Why we Work with Head Start Families
  • Self-Care: Taking Care of Yourself in Order to Serve Children and Families

For more information, contact us.

Re-opening In The Midst Of New Challenges And Hurdles

As our Head Start programs begin to tackle the new school year, with ever changing guidelines for re-opening, we want to offer our support and assistance.

Many program management and staff, new and veteran, have very real concerns about the children and families they serve.

  • What have our children experienced during the shutdown?
  • How have our parents fared?
  • Can they work?
  • Have our kids experienced food insecurity?
  • Have they been safe?
  • What will we need to do and what might we be faced with as we re-open?
  • How can I support my staff as children return to us?

All of Essential Elements’ trainings are now offered virtually. As Head Start professionals prepare to welcome children and families to a new school year that is not like anything any of us have previously experienced, we would like to help. We are offering virtual trainings that address the tough topics, effects of COVID 19 and the current race inequities, discussions in our communities, secondary trauma, and virtual support of families.

We are conducting virtual trainings for pre-service on most of our training topics, however, we would like to offer you additional support. Our trainers have been developing content that is relevant to current issues Head Start professional and the families they serve are experiencing.

Below are our most requested topics from programs searching for effective ways to support staff and families while addressing the very real impact and consequences the pandemic and racial tension brought to our programs across the country.

  • Managing Your Stress: Self-Care Strategies for Difficult Times
  • Working with Challenging Families During a Pandemic
  • Becoming Trauma Informed and Recognizing Secondary Trauma
  • Managing Challenging Behaviors
  • Helping Children Feel Safe in Today’s Society-COVID 19 and Racism
  • How to Have Hard Conversations with Staff
  • How to Have Hard Conversations with Families
  • Becoming Trauma Informed – Responsive Caregiving
  • Moving from Helper to Partner
  • Linking the Classroom to Home

For more information, contact us by email or give us a call.

Essential Elements Website Launch – New Look and New Virtual Options for Training

We have a new look and new focus for current times!

During the shutdown, EE has been busy updating our website and creating products that will best fit the needs of our Head Start programs. While our world has collectively shifted and nothing is likely the same for you as you begin to look at re-opening your programs, we are here to support you!

There is not a replacement for the dynamics of in-person training and learning and we recognize that. For our many clients who will not be able to access the live training venue, most of our trainings and trainers are now available virtually. While you are navigating how to re-open and are struggling with individual state and county requirements, we want to make that process a little easier if we can. We are monitoring your state and local regulations so we can support you within guidelines.

As newly granted Covid 19 funds have become available to programs we would like partner with you to meet your professional development needs. As you know, there are some requirements for training and technical assistance topics to be met. We have been working with our clients and training professionals through this process, and want to share a list of our most requested virtual training topics:

  • Self-Care Strategies for Difficult Times: Intentional Interventions for Instructors and Caregivers
  • Becoming Trauma Informed
  • Recognizing Secondary Trauma and Developing Coping Strategies
  • Managing Challenging Behaviors: How to re-integrate children to the classroom
  • The Role of the Home Visitor: adaptations for current times

Please take a look around visit our Services area, as well as our Training opportunities.

Struggling With Becoming “Trauma Informed?” We Have Solutions For Your Program.

According to NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci, “Head Start is a safe haven for more than one million vulnerable children and families, many of whom are battling the storms of addiction and other traumatic experiences.” It takes courage and commitment to work with the most vulnerable children and families in our communities.  It’s not surprising that staff are seeing the impacts of complex developmental trauma in their classrooms, as well experiencing an increase in second-hand trauma themselves. 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.

Are you interested in a highly interactive and custom designed training which addresses:

  • Contemporary research on the impact and effects and stress (including chronic stress) on the development of preschool children
  • The essential elements that build stress-responsive classrooms that support the development of children at high risk for negative outcomes of stress and trauma
  • The strategies that build a “culture of support” for children and staff; developing classroom community, building self-regulation skills, and managing second-hand trauma and compassion fatigue.

We currently have availability in April and May, or for your preservice, for your program to become more aware of the effects of trauma on young children and signs of second-hand trauma, increasing effective intervention strategies for staff and children in your care. Contact us for more information.

 

Why CLASS Observations In The Spring?

Spring is an ideal time to conduct CLASS observations. With more than half the school year over, education staff have had pre-service training, in-service training, and coaching from your Education Coordinators and specialists. Spring is the perfect time to evaluate not only where you are with CLASS scores, but what is working and what may not be, in terms of teacher/child interactions, as well as taking professional development to a deeper level.

CLASS observations in the spring, with direct feedback for opportunities for improvement, will identify areas where teaching staff need support and is an excellent way to identify your pre-service training needs.

Whether your staff are struggling with challenging behaviors, trauma informed care, maximizing available instructional time during transitions and routines, or asking the juicy questions for instructional support, this is the time to “take stock” and identify content area for staff training, before the new school year.

Our CLASS observations include a detailed summary for each classroom, program wide opportunities for improvement and growth, and a comprehensive debrief with management.

We currently have availability in March, April and May for CLASS observations and are reserving trainers and dates for the preservice season!

Making Accidental Learning Part of the Plan

Sadly, for many professionals in early childhood, we say “children learn through play,” but you’d be hard-pressed to find evidence that we believe it’s true. What I mean is, letting kids play all day long, how could we possibly meet all the HSPPS? There’re things to do, a curriculum to implement, big group-small groups, circle time, intentional teaching, assessments, snacks to serve, diapers to change, more diapers to change, and clean up, so much clean up. Sound familiar?

Are you interested in a training that focuses on developmentally appropriate practices for infants and toddlers? We dive deep into what it means to support learning through play authentically, create environments worthy of exploration, make learning visible through innovative documentation, and get real about what it means to be a grown-up.

Let’s find the freedom inside the HSPPS and put play at the center of everything we do with infants and toddlers.

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 www.HSessentials.com.

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