Post by: Michelle Hutson-Crawford, Success by 6 Pre-K Coaching Manager
What do you love most about working with your team?
In 2019, United Way ATX was selected by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to coordinate and implement a Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) observation coaching model with Pre-K educators in Austin ISD, Manor ISD, Wayside Schools, and Open Door Preschools. Getting the program off the ground was not only exciting but revealed in more ways than one, that our schools were prepared and ready to take on the challenge of increasing teacher-child interactions.
I bet you are wondering what teacher-child interactions are…
Well, positive teacher-child interactions can be defined by shared affection (hugs, smiles, high-fives etc.), understanding, and trust between a teacher and her students. Positive teacher-child relationships impact classroom management, learning, growth, and students mental-well being. Children in these types of classrooms are known to take more risk, are motivated and tend to have a high self-esteem.
According to research, improving teacher-child interactions build a foundation of trust, empathy, connectedness, equity, and improved child outcomes and school readiness. Not only do these connections build bridges for children and provide valuable insight to teachers, but they also create the blueprint for how local schools can continue this essential and transformative work.
Throughout the course of the 19-20 school year, collectively our 33 teachers actively participated in more than 500 hours of group coaching and 260 hours of one-on-one coaching. What do all these numbers mean? Our teachers are awesome and dedicated to putting in the time and hard work that will ultimately improve not only their lives but the lives of the children as well.
Don’t get me wrong, my team was faced with several challenges, but each challenge was met with solutions that improved our outreach and coaching efforts. One important lesson we learned was that “one size” does NOT fit all. Which brings me to this important highlight; we are unique and deserve to be seen as such. This important theme fueled our work and unearthed professional and personal goals for our teachers giving them the fuel they needed to be fully engaged in the program.
Tragically, their engagement was abruptly brought to a halt when the news of the COVID-19 pandemic broke loose. We faced the possibility of not completing our program goals and our teachers were faced with transitioning learning from a classroom to their homes, but after a few weeks, we got the hang of things. Thanks to being forced to move our services virtually, innovation sparked ideas, creative visions, and new-found strengths in our teachers and coaching team. A beautiful example of this is how a teacher from our charter school shared her need for learning resources and teachers from Austin ISD provided that support. A simple request for hands-on learning materials grew into an online hub that is now accessible for all teachers involved in the program.
I am proud to say, that our teachers met their new roles and responsibilities with strength and we were able to complete our first year on a high note! Although we may not know what the future holds, one thing I am willing to bet on is that my coaching team and I will continue to provide the support and guidance needed. More so than ever, positive teacher-child interactions are crucial to building resilient children who have the tools to pave the way for others.
I am excited to announce that our team will be expanding our outreach. We will welcome teachers from Pflugerville ISD and Leander ISD! This will give us 50 teachers who will be with us until the end of the program in 2022.