One of the many lessons I learned as a teacher of young children was the internal time clock that goes off when it is meal time in a classroom. Children seem to intuitively know when it is time to be fed. If something throws off their predictable schedule life in the classroom can become tumultuous.
Whatever happened to old fashioned block play? These days many spaces that should be dedicated as a block interest center are filled with lots of colorful plastic distractions— gigantic waffle blocks, a table filled with Duplos, tubs of interlocking manipulatives, and those huge plastic trucks that can only serve one purpose which is to crash and destroy another child’s block structure…
It is 8:00 a.m. and Sean lies in the cozy corner of the toddler room. He is wearing his winter coat and a knit cap covers his face. His arms are tightly folded around his body. He is a large, burly mass of four-year-old boy. A substitute teacher enters the room….
One teacher, Patrick Romero, confides in the process his team used several years ago. He poignantly states, “We put a fish tank with a fish in the classroom for the ECERS, but the fish kept dying. We never stopped to consider how to make this a better place for fish to live. We did not reflect on why the ECERS encourages children to have opportunities to care for nature and living things. Our focus was on earning points and checking off items on our ECERS to‐do list.”
Bright & Early North Dakota is North Dakota’s Quality Rating & Improvement System. Family and Group providers in the state are required to have three hours of training on the Environment Rating Scales.
Last year, they were struggling to facilitate the 3-hour required course for FCCERS-R overview within the QRIS system. They scheduled face-to-face trainings across the state but found themselves cancelling more than they held due to poor attendance.
The problem was geography. There was a definite need for training but the providers that needed it could potentially be several hours apart from each other.
Rather than seeing a problem, they saw an opportunity. By connecting their program with ERS Online Training, Bright and Early North Dakota made the education equally accessible to everyone in the state. They worked with Branagh Information Group to create to communities of practice using the existing FCCERS 101 course.
The entire program lasts 6 weeks. The first few weeks enrollees are asked to complete the online training. Each following week they have discussion questions on the Branagh Group Training Portal – a community board that they are required to answer and to respond to other providers that are also enrolled in the training.
This year’s group is just finishing the program. Congratulations to North Dakota’s 2019 Community of Practice!