Researchers from the Curry School of Education who work with the National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning are in Washington, DC, this week for the Office of Head Start 1st Annual National Birth to Five Leadership Institute.
More than 3,000 Head Start staff and parent leaders are attending the October 3-5 institute, which focuses on the theme Leading the Way for Children, Families and Communities. From the University of Virginia’s Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) a number of researchers, including Jennifer LoCasale-Crouch, Bridget Hamre, Anita McGinty, and Beverly Sweeney, are presenting informational sessions during the institute on topics ranging from evidence-based professional development using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System™ to creating partnerships between Head Start and Elementary schools to understanding effective and engaging instructional interactions to selecting and implementing early childhood curricula.
“The goal of the institute is to take innovative, cutting edge research and make it accessible to the Head Start community,” said LoCasale-Crouch. “This institute is supporting local leaders’ ability to apply research and effective resources in their communities.” The conference promotes a real time, direct link between the national research and the on-the-ground, day-to-day implementers, she explained. “By developing this leadership, Head Start programs can more effectively implement strategies for achieving school readiness and promote continuous program improvement.”
On October 6, following the larger institute, approximately 200 early childhood specialists will gather for additional hands-on training about implementing programs at a larger scale. At that meeting Locasale-Crouch and Beverly Sweeney will speak on effective transitions to enhance school readiness, and train technical assistance individuals on how to build capacity and assess progress in their community for successful transition from preschool to the school system. Dean Bob Pianta will present a fireside chat.
The National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning is one of five National Centers of Early Childhood Excellence funded by the Office of Head Start. The lead project team includes researchers from the University of Washington, the University of Virginia, and Vanderbilt University, all institutions that have extensive experience with Head Start and developing effective interventions that make a difference in the lives of young children and their families.
The goal of the center is to support Head Start teachers and programs with effective evidence-based resources and training that improve classroom practices.” said Hamre, associate director of CASTL. “We know so much now about how to support teachers to be effective in the classroom, but often research findings aren’t translated in ways that teachers can really use them. This center is focused on doing that, and this meeting is a great opportunity to connect with Head Start leaders from across the country to get these new, evidence-based tools in their hands.”
Over the past year the NCQTL team at the University of Virginia has created a number of in-service training programs on the topic of effective teacher-child interactions, and has worked on creating products to facilitate children’s transitions from Head Start to elementary school. They have also collaborated with local Head Start programs to create processes for disseminating knowledge to teachers, including teacher work groups and learning communities.
Head Start is a national program that promotes school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children through the provision of educational, health, nutritional, social and other services to enrolled children and families.
by Lynn Bell