In a recent post, my colleague Sandra Little wrote, “As we face instructional decisions in a new educational landscape, it is important to remember that how we teach should always be determined by best practice rather than by circumstance.”
I can’t agree more heartily with that statement. The decisions we are making now should be sound and rooted in what we know about teaching and learning.
And, here’s something I know about teaching and learning for young children: it doesn’t have to be either developmentally appropriate or academically ambitious; it can be both—even when done from a distance.
Three Strategies to Provide Ambitious Interactions and Instruction:
- Remember that you hold the power to choose to use your curriculum in dynamic, effective ways.
As a teacher, it’s important to recognize that you decide how you will present content to children, how you will stimulate or support their interests, and how you will create multiple opportunities for them to dig deeper as they learn. This remains true even if you are teaching remotely.
- Become an inquisitive researcher, studying children through observations and using those observations to plan for children.
Effectively observing children makes it possible for a curriculum to be appropriate for all children, including children with disabilities and children who are learning English as a second or other language. Getting comfortable with using technology to deliver content and conduct observations may take some time, but it’s imperative to high-quality care and education.Two tips for successfully capturing observations:
- Plan to observe with intention. The National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning (NCQTL) has created some resources that support intentional observations. This Child Participation Evaluation Form is helpful because it can be used to identify children who need additional support or those who may need more enrichment.
- Include families intentionally. In a recent webinar titled Involving Families in Formative Assessment, my colleague Beth White and I discussed ten ways teachers can engage families in the formative assessment process. Five of the tips we share are worth reiterating here because they are appropriate for using technology to make meaningful observations while children are learning remotely.
- Create a culture of empathy.
In June 2020, the United National Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) conducted a survey with students from around the globe to learn about their perspective on their learning experiences during COVID-19. When asked what advice they would give to teachers, students consistently shared that they want teachers to be more empathetic. What might empathy look like for teachers of young children? It may be offering flexibility in where or how children access their learning experience. It may even be taking into account the amount of time children are required to be on a device.
With the number of early care and education programs currently using remote learning or a combination of in-person and remote learning to reach children, it is becoming increasingly more important for early childhood education champions to promote quality interactions and instruction.