Development of the online course Effective Classroom Interactions (ECI) continues at the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning this spring, as the project team continues to refine its instructional modules geared for preschool teachers.
After pilot testing the modules on emotional support, the ECI team has created modules on classroom organization and is piloting them with 30 teachers. Teacher feedback from the pilots indicated more support was needed and further explanation of content for more challenging areas of practice, said Grace Funk, a research scientist who is one of the instructors of the online course.
“We decided that instead of having the instructors talk more about these issues, we would add filmed interviews of some real preschool teachers discussing their teaching practice who have been observed using the principles this course promoted,” Funk said.
Facunda Knight from the Aleene Logan Preschool Center in Bronx, New York, and Mathew Moura from One Hope United in Chicago, visited the CASTL and University of Virginia Grounds last week to participate in interviews about their classroom practice. The purpose of their visit was to put words to the internal processes and decisions teachers make throughout the school day. Both teachers had previously participated in a CASTL research study in which they recorded videos of their classroom teaching and collaborated with a coach on increasing the effectiveness of their interactions with children.
As a result of his involvement with CASTL, Moura said, “I’m more aware and intentional about what I’m saying and how I’m saying it. You need to make things very concrete [with preschoolers], and sometimes you need to repeat things. You can’t do that off the top of your head. You have to be intentional.”
Maleea March and Martina Baerman, preschool teachers from Decatur, Georgia, visited Charlottesville earlier in March to add their voices to the ECI online course.
“Having these interviews is a way of de-privatizing practice,” Funk said. “We think it will help future teachers more if we can get into the heads of the teachers who do this well and learn how they make decisions in the moment, as well as how they plan in advance for handling challenging children and situations.”
Course modules that include the interview footage will be integrated within the ECI online course and used within the next year of the project with 50 teachers.