When we look at the research about what teachers actually do each day
that makes a difference in children’s lives, there’s clear evidence that
it’s the daily interactions that teachers have with children that are most
important. And we know quite a bit about the specific type of interactions
that lead to children’s development and learning. So this course
focuses on those interactions. By the end of the course, you should
have a deep knowledge and understanding of the types of interactions that
foster learning and development among your students.
Although there are many types of interactions that are critical to
young children’s development, this course will focus on one area in particular
– Emotional Support.
This course focuses on Emotional Support because it is really the
foundation of every early childhood classroom. In classrooms that are
Emotionally Supportive children and adults are comfortable with one another and
excited about learning. They look forward to spending time together and know
that, even when times are tough, there will be someone there to help them.
What do you need to know to be a really effective early childhood
teacher? Teachers need many types of knowledge – knowledge about children’s
development, about the content they’re teaching, about effective teaching
practices, about the needs and abilities of the children in their classrooms,
and about themselves. In this course we’ll focus a bit on knowledge about
children’s development and we’ll spend lots of time focused on knowledge
about specific types of classroom interactions that promote learning and
Another part of effective teaching is seeing. All the knowledge
in the world about effective teaching is only a piece of the puzzle. Good
teachers need to see what effective teaching looks like – in lots of different
types of classrooms, with lots of different types of children. Teachers
tell us they don’t get nearly enough opportunities to see other teachers
teach and they report how helpful these experiences are when they do get
them. We’ll spend lots of time in this course focused on observing classroom
videos and we’ll also ask you to spend some time watching yourself teach.
Ultimately we can’t learn to be an effective teacher without practice
– we need to spend some time doing – enacting the teaching practices
that we’ll learn about. Just as young children need to do things to really
learn about them – you need to spend some time practicing the types of
interactions we’ll be talking about.
There’s one last important element to being an effective teacher. Effective
teachers spend time reflecting on their practice. We think of this
a bit like taking time to really look at your teaching through a magnifying
glass – we’ll give you time to reflect on your teaching and what you have
learned throughout this course.
Much of this course is based on the research of Drs. Robert Pianta, Bridget
Hamre and many colleagues UVA and other institutions using the Classroom
Assessment Scoring System – or CLASS(™). CLASS is an observational measure
used in research and practice that defines specific elements of effective
teaching. In this course you will see examples of the kinds of teaching
practices assessed by the CLASS. And you will get opportunities to observe
and analyze your own teaching practice in ways that have been shown to
increase the effectiveness of teachers' interactions with young children.
The development of the course was funded, in part, by the
Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant
R305A100154-11 to the University of Virginia.
The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent
views of the U.S. Department of Education.