Staff Development

Woman holding crying child against chestPer HSPPS 45 CFR §1302.92, programs must establish and implement a systematic approach to staff development and training that helps them acquire or increase their knowledge and skills. Education staff benefit from ongoing staff development opportunities to learn about the meaning of young children's behavior and strategies and practices to address the behavior. These opportunities include training sessions, coaching, mentoring, and communities of practice. They help staff understand typical development as well as potential meaning behind behaviors, such as:

  • Infants who are difficult to soothe and bite, cry, and fuss
  • Infants who have irregular or frustrated feeding and sleeping
  • Toddlers who constantly move, say "no" frequently, and often fall to the floor, crying and kicking
  • Preschoolers who argue or fight over toys, exhibit oppositional behavior, or engage in overly aggressive play

Understanding the possible meaning of children's behaviors is critical to building supportive home and learning environments for young children. Accurate interpretations of children's behaviors can positively influence how education staff:

  • Interact with children
  • Build relationships with children and families
  • Engage with families to adjust interactions, routines, and schedules to support children's needs and promote their learning

Programs implement a research-based, coordinated coaching strategy for education staff within the systematic approach to training and professional development (45 CFR §1302.92(c)(1–5)). Coaches may work with staff identified as benefiting from intensive coaching on teaching practices specifically related to understanding and managing children's behavior. Such practices may come from the program's comprehensive curriculum and social and emotional curriculum enhancement. They can also come from the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS®) Pre-K and other resources and tools, such as the Pyramid Model for Promoting Social Emotional Competence in Infants and Young Children, Inventory of Practices for Children's Promoting Social Emotional Competence (preschool), and Inventory of Practices for Promoting Social Emotional Competence Birth to Three.

Another aspect of staff development can focus on their self-awareness and understanding of their personal experiences and beliefs related to behavior (e.g., what different behaviors mean, how behaviors should be handled, and behaviors that "push their buttons"). This can help staff uncover and address any potential biases that may interfere with how they interpret and manage children's behavior and connect on a meaningful level with children's families.