Wednesday, March 18, 2015

What are Teachers Talking About?

Teachers "speed date", sharing reflections
on play and teaching practices.
During a school year there are many opportunities for teachers to meet - but just because people meet doesn't mean they are talking about something that has the potential to impact teaching. In Somerville, the Early Learning Challenge Grant provides opportunities for teachers to share expertise and get feedback on teaching using critical friendship routines to guide conversations.

Talking about the connections
between literacy and play.

What is unique in Somerville is that these groups are made up of teachers from a variety of early childhood classrooms:  Head Start, Somerville Public Schools, and local center-based childcare programs.

Teachers reflect on video and
talk about new practices.
Teachers in teams such as the Literacy Coaching Group and the Kindergarten Readiness Group are looking at examples of children's learning and this takes many forms - video and photos from classrooms, children's writing and drawing, and anecdotes related to play, behavior, and academic content. These kinds of in-depth conversations about teaching and learning remind us of what children need to be successful in school and how teachers can support children in these areas of development.

After the meetings teachers are not expected to go it alone.  The Literacy Group is supported by the early childhood coach who visits classrooms weekly to support literacy practices. The Kindergarten Readiness Group stays in touch via email.  Teachers want to talk about their work in meaningful ways - having time to meet in collaborative groups with a focus on how to be proactive in classrooms can inspire teachers to innovate. A local group, the Early Childhood Consortium provides opportunities for early childhood educators from the greater Boston area to convene monthly around issues of practice in classrooms and provides support to those who need it.

The meeting of teachers from diverse sites - public, center-based child care, & Head Start creates curriculum and visionary alignment across Somerville. As teachers experience new ways of meeting and talking together about their work, it can become infectious - there is much expertise to share and we look forward to more professional learning communities for early childhood educators.