The 5Rs for Early Learning Leaders: Embedding Reflective Dialogue
Vanessa Maanao-French: Thank you for joining us on our fourth webinar of a five-part series focusing on the 5Rs of early learning leaders. Today we're going to focus on embedding reflective dialogues.
We've introduced the 5Rs through the first three in the series. We've covered reason, responsive relationships, and resource. Now today, again, we're going to be focusing on those reflective dialogues, probably my favorite topics, but if you missed one of those first three, do not worry. We've got a great resource for you called DTL Push Play where you can find those. During today's session we're going to be, again, focusing on reflective dialogues and how you can use those to promote a culture of continuous quality improvement and how you can involve your staff, your families in ways to better enrich your program planning through the use of data – to bring it, to make it come alive. And you'll probably hear me say that several times about making data come alive, but before we really, really get started, I want to be sure that we have a shared understanding of our definition of early learning leaders. Often, we hear the word leader, and we associate it with titles like director or manager, but we have a really broad definition of leader. We want to be sure we're included our coaches, our master teachers, child development specialists, disabilities coordinators. We want to have you see yourself a leader in this conversation. We learned from our colleagues in region VIII, they have this lovely phrase of "leading from any chair," and truly we hope that you feel that this content speaks to you because you are, too, a leader. I'm going to pass it over to Gail, who's going to talk to us a little bit about kind of where these 5Rs came from and going to give us an overview of early learning leaders. Gail?
Gail Joseph: Absolutely. If you joined us for any of the prior webinar series or perhaps during a regional training or even during our recent education manager institute, you may have heard the origin story, if you will, of the 5Rs. We think it's always a good idea to be grounded in how the 5Rs were developed, so I'm just going to give a very brief overview of how we got here. We started out by seeking to understand what effective learning leadership looks like within Early Head Start and Head Start context, specifically. Our purpose was to explain what is unique about effective learning leaders versus perhaps some less effective learning leaders and identify what are the daily behaviors? What are the deeply held values? And what are the beliefs about children, about families, about learning, around staff development that they hold? And to distill this down into the daily practices, the moment-to-moment behaviors that we can use and to make that clear and how it can be used in everyday practice. That was our overarching purpose, and our approach to doing that included reviewed the current literature around leadership development, and most of that literature is people, as our participants probably know, is really found in K-12 and in other sectors. It's really difficult to find some … You know, it's not as robust, I would say, in early learning. We looked at what the literally said, specifically around something that in K-12 we would refer to as instructional leadership, but then we really wanted to understand, what does it look like in early learning? We had a discussion with some of the leading research scientists in early learning to ask them. We asked our education leaders in the field, some effective education leaders in the field in early learning, and then my favorite thing that we did is, we asked educators. We asked teachers and the toddler teachers, family childcare providers, home visitors, and we asked them, "What does effective learning leadership look like in your program?” How does a leader help you learn something? If you're struggling with something, how has a leader helped make you feel supported in that? Anyways, when we looked at the experts' information, when we looked at what was in the existing frameworks and the literature, and when we looked at what was existing effective leaders said and educational staff said, we started to see some places where there were really overlapping ideas that were emerging, some themes that were emerging, and those became the 5Rs that we like to talk about.
What we discovered as common themes across these various explanations are things like this. Early learning leaders build strong relationships with educational staff, and they use these relationships to build what we would call a unified culture. That everyone has a shared purpose, vision, mission. They build workplace trust and collaboration and they create spaces where every staff members feels like they truly belong, and I would add … There's responsive relationships. I'd add a little third R in there, which are resilient relationships. They build enough trust, authenticity, sense of belonging that we can weather through any storm, any up or down that we have in our program. Now, early learning leaders also inspire educational staff to meet program goals and objectives by providing the reasons or we like to think about it as the why for policies and practices. They never say, "Do it because I said so.” They say, "We're going to do this because it is linked to or it's fostering or it's supporting or because the end goal here is this," and they are keeping children and families at the heart of those reasons.
We also know that early learning leaders are resourceful, and they use resources very intentionally. Resources can be anything from the actual materials and resources that an educator needs to be able to implement a curriculum, make modifications and adaptations, etc. But they also understand that other teachers, other educational staff are really gems for them and use them as resources for each other. What we heard time and time again from educational staff is that the best resource for me is if I can hear from other teachers or other educators or other home visitors. Early learning leaders create opportunities for educators to hear from each other as a resource, and early learning leaders engage in frequent reflective dialogues, which, of course, is the focus for today – to learn how staff, children and families are doing. This is a constant question, a constant curiosity, is how are we doing? Who is benefiting? Who is not? And how do we help? And then finally, early learning leaders create formal and informal opportunities to recognize these big and small wins, and we like to say encourage the hearts – borrowing from the leadership challenge – encouraging the hearts of educational staff in the ways in which they are recognized. And for today's webinar, we will be focusing on the fourth R, which is reflective dialogues. I'm going to turn it back over to Vanessa.
Vanessa: Thanks, Gail. I'm actually going to pause because I realize I got so excited to start our session that I didn't even introduce myself. I may be a new face to zone out watching this webinar. I didn't introduce you, but I feel like you go without, Gail Joseph. You don't know who I am. So, hi. My name is Vanessa Maanao-French, and I am new to the National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching, and Learning. It is always an honor and a privilege to have my thumbnail being next to the thumbnail beside me. I don't know which side you're on, Gail, but to be working alongside Gail Joseph, so thank you. I'm excited to join this work with you all.
That out of the way, I did want to get us thinking and using that little widget at the bottom of your screen, that little purple Q&A one because I'm curious. I think Gail and I are both curious about what are your perceptions of data? What are your teams' perception of data as you come into this session with us? Is it something that's exciting, invigorating to you? Do you get excited? Does it bring out some curiosity for you in thinking about data or maybe you have other feelings, that it feels kind of burdensome, that it can be, at times, very, very overwhelming. I'm going to pause for a moment and let you use that Q&A widget down below to give us some feedback. How does data make you feel?
All right. Because we do know that it takes a lot of work to pull data together, and it can be challenging, and it's OK to have feelings about it. I'm going to go ahead and show some of the responses that kind of came through in our conversations with early learning leaders over the years, and perhaps you're seeing some of the feelings and ideas, comments, perceptions that came up for you as well. You can see intimidating, informative, not used in real time. You can see that there's a balance of feeling empowered by the use of data and then also feeling kind of … task-oriented is kind of almost burdensome. I wonder, Gail, in the research that you've seen, read, done, how do these perceptions of data align with what you have seen in the field and the research?
Gail: Yeah. Absolutely. Some very similar things, so there was a study, not by me but by some others in 2015, that focused on how is data regarded and some thoughts and feelings about data collection and use in early childhood. While this study was focused in preschool, we've heard very similar things to our interviews that we've done specifically in Early Head Start and Head Start programs. Here are just a few of the things, and for participants, be thinking about if this is similar to a thought you've had or the way in which data is used and collected and used in your program too. One thing we've heard is data is not always used for decisions, that data is collected and it's collected frequently, but it's not often referred to, and whether that's about child development data that is collected and then could be used for instructional purposes. But might not always be that data is not always used for decisions, and data is collected and used infrequently. That's another thing that we've heard. Sometimes we hear data is collected frequently, but used infrequently. You can think about where your program might be there. We've heard data is not used in real time, that data is looked at long after there's an opportunity to make a course correction or an intervention. It's really just kind of almost more of a historical archive of what was happened at one point in time in a program, but not necessarily used that moment or that week to make an adjustment. We hear that it's difficult to combine multiple sources of data. A program might collect data on child development. They might collect data on classroom quality, perhaps using class looking at educator-child interactions or using the HOVRS with home visiting or the Q-CCIIT in Early Head Start, maybe they're collecting some information about fidelity to the curriculum, but it's difficult to combine those sources of data to understand what's happening and what adjustment you might make and how those data kind of speak to each other, if you will, to give you a full picture. We've also heard that data conversations are not linked to an outcome, that it's just kind of looking at the data or admiring the data. Sometimes we call this gap gazing, where we're just looking at some differences, but not necessarily moved to action or linking that to an outcome. Sometimes data is used for compliance and not for improvement. I think that I hear that most frequently, that when educators feel like they're collecting the data and submitting the data just because it's a requirement, versus it's something that helps me understand how children are doing and how I could tinker with my teaching to make some improvements or not … and just that curiosity and excitement and that inspiration from data sometimes is missing. These are things that we've found in that 2015 study or that some other researchers found in 2015 definitely, definitely reinforced in some of the conversations that we've had, and I'd love for people to enter into the Q&A. We're going to use that as kind of out chat function here. How do these feel to in relation to your program? Are some of these things really speaking to you "Yup. That's my experience with data as well.”
While you're thinking about that, let's think about how data is data collection and data use is used in your program. Let me say that. And then what I want to talk about is kind of what we call data past and data future. So these are some of the other things that we have heard, and you certainly see that coming out from the conversations that we've had with leaders, some of the things that came out from the literature. But really, when we think about data, past thinking about data is that it is intimidating. It is just to meet a mandate, right? It's just compliance driven, that it's not used in real time, that it's not to be trusted, right? We collect a lot data, but we're not so sure how credible that data is. That data is connected, but it's not at all linked to kind of a program goals and mission, that data is not meaningful to plan for individual children, whether it's a type of assessment that's collected, but it doesn't help a teacher think about: What could I do differently tomorrow to help support that child? Where we would love to think about data is data is very powerful for decision-making, right? Wow, I have a child who's not seems to have their development and fine motor skills, seems to be stalled a bit, so what could I do with my teaching practice? Oh, I could incorporate a lot more fine motor activities, and I know they're really motivated by some funny sounds or events and so I'm going to have them practice cutting straws, plastic straws. That's a favorite activity where things pop and go and then, wow, and then look. They're making progress with their fine motor skills because I collect data again frequently. That's just one little off-the-top example of that power of making decisions from an educator perspective.
Then, thinking about as a manager, how powerful data can be for helping you make some decisions about what professional developments, what curricular supports you might use – modifications, adaptations – for children with disabilities. The other thought is that data … We want data to be improvement driven, right? We want data to be used in real time so that I can make changes and adjustments as I go, that we want data to be trusted, that we have some confidence in how it's being collected. One of the things I see sometimes in programs is that if we have that past mindset, if we think that data is just for compliance, that it never gets used for anything other than to submit to someone who submits it to somebody else, who submits it to somebody else, to meet the requirements of a grant or something like that, when we start to feel that way about it, we might not be collecting as great of data, right? We might just be, like filling it in, filling in the bubbles. We want to build that credibility and that trust in the data collection, and I think we do that by demonstrating that we use this. We use this to make decisions. We use this to guide us and help us understand if we're on the right track and that it's linked to the goals that we've established as a program. And then again, making sure that data is meaningful and disaggregating by subgroups to understand equity and to understand inclusion.
We talked about this in the ed manager institute, if anyone saw, that example. We talked about class data that we collect to understand just general classroom what's happening in the general classroom around teacher/child interactions, which is really what that class assessment gives us, is kind of the common or the average experience that's happening. But when we can think about, well, let's think about any one particular child and let's think about children that we might have an implicit bias around and not even aware of that, but if I looked at class from a child-up perspective, if I took any one child and collected data on, do they get asked open-ended questions? Do they get greeted warmly when they are approached? Do they get feedback on their initiations, etc.? Then are they having that experience? That's just one example of kind of that disaggregating to understand quality. How do we get from past thinking to this future thinking and data? Well, the way that we do that is by thinking about using reflective dialogues.
All right. Now, this is a great quote from Chip and Dan Heath, a good old favorite in terms of thinking about data. And they say, "Data are just summaries of thousands of stories. Tell a few of those stories to help make the data meaningful. ' And I think sometimes when we think about data, we think of for some of us our eyes might roll back in our head a little bit. We're thinking about massive numbers and just averages, and to make that data meaningful we need to understand the story behind it. We need to understand what story that data is telling us, and sometimes that's about kind of telling a few of the real stories around a specific child and what that data reflects or a teacher and what that data reflects.
Vanessa: Thanks, Gail. That's a perfect segue for us to go a little bit deeper into thinking about reflective dialogues, and I wonder if this is a good time to maybe pause and maybe grab a Post-it Note or maybe you're a journaler like me, and you have something nearby. If you want to write down your why. This kind of thing … When you were speaking, Gail, it made me think about the whole session that we did focused on reason and getting connected to the purpose, our core values around the work, kind of what gets us up out of bed every morning to come to work even when we know the days can be hard. What keeps us coming back? It could be just a quick writing down of, “It's the children. It's about empowering families. It's about making sure that I provide the right resources to make sure my team is effective in their practice.” Take just a quick second and write down your personal why for this work, and the reason for that is that I wanted to be sure we're keeping that why, that reason, connected to the data because I love what you said, Gail, about kind of making sure we're evaluating those stories behind the numbers. We need to be able to see and hold on to our families and our children and our staff when we're looking at those pie charts or bar graphs or looking at big metrics and averages. I totally agree. We need to be able to still feel connected because that's what propels us to then do something with that information. Write down your why, if you haven't already, and maybe stick it somewhere where you'll see it throughout the rest of our time together and be the corner of your monitor or right beside you and take some extra notes there as we move through. Because the goal is we want to connect our why to the data so that we have different kinds of conversations. The conversations that you would find in that data future column, right? I would love to come into data conversations where people are asking questions that start like, "I wonder if" or "I wonder why" or "What if," and definitely I want to hear, "Let's try.” Let's hold on to our whys as we move a little bit deeper into reflective dialogues.
Again, thinking about the main purpose of collecting data, right? We want to measure child progress. That's probably an easy one. We can immediately see our child outcomes data, thinking about assessments and screenings as we measure child progress towards their goals throughout the year. We want to inform our teaching practices, and we do that often by collecting observations of our teachers, our home visitors, and practice. Finally, we want to think more systemically about continuous quality improvement, but let's dig in a little bit more around child progress. What can be super exciting about looking more deeply and thinking more reflectively about child data is it helps us really focus in on kind of where our … the children doing, but also for whom? What are our practices doing? Where are they most effective and where would we see those children thriving? But then also to make sure that we pay attention to the children that we may not be doing our best work with yet, right? Thinking about our children who speak languages other than English. Are we meeting them at the same level of children who speak English as their first language? Thinking about our children with disabilities or suspected delays, are there ways that we can better address their particular needs? Thinking next about how we inform our teaching practices, right? We want to be able to offer our teachers the best resource, the best training, to be able to provide the best service. When we think about when these conversations can happen, it can be in your one-to-ones as part of your individualized PD planning with your team. It can be full team. That's when it gets exciting and energizing to look at the data together and pose those questions because truly when we're thinking about the children we're working with or the staff that we support, it's about how do we know how our children, teachers, home visitors, family childcare provider … How do we know how they're doing and how do we know, with confidence, how they're doing? I love what you said about be able to trust that data and then confidentially move forward with it, Gail. That's so critical. Then, that other piece that you added on is, if we have confidence in this data, then we should do something next with it.
Finally, pulling back that lens, as I mentioned, to think about the children. Yes, we've done that, and we've looked at our team, but what about all of those systems, our protocols, our practices that support our teachers and home visitors to do their best work? Are there ways that we can make some adjustments, some fine-tuning, to provide them the space to be their best? You could look at your scheduling. Is there enough time in the day for them to do what we want them to do, what they want to do, which is to take this data, sit with it, see the stories behind the data, reflect on the children, reflect on the families, and then thoughtfully plan their next steps. Is there a way we can adjust our schedule? Something as simple as adding 20 more minutes of planning time could make a world of difference to that teacher or home visitor and how they next plan for that child, how they next plan for that home visit with that family. Thinking, too, about those places and spaces in our systems and our practices so that we're not putting the burden of change on the teachers, on the staff, on home visitors or on the families. We have to always be considering what can our system, what can our program do, and we learn that by looking at our data. I wonder, Gail, if you could talk with us next … Actually, no. I want to talk to you about one more thing before I toss it to you, Gail, if that's OK. No. Actually, I don't. I'm going to pass it over to you. Never mind. I was getting so excited.
Gail: I know. I want to kind of to build on that continuous quality improvement and that idea, the cycle that you had up there of “plan, do, check, act” or sometimes people call this, “plan, do, study, act” in terms of a CQI or a continuous quality improvement. I want to give a visual here about … that can help us understand the utilization of reflective dialogue and how we improve programs and program practices. In order to use data intentionally, we start by identifying our current status. That's the first part of the visual. You would pick and area of focus. You might pick a problem of practice in your program that you're curious about and you want to investigate. Maybe this is the current status about children's learning in your program and one of the things you notice is that language and literacy seems to be one of the lower areas across the development domains when you aggregate that up at the programmatic level. You've picked an area of focus, maybe it's around language and literacy, maybe it's around family engagement, maybe it's around curriculum and fidelity – whatever that is. Let's say you pick a current status, right? We understand in our program that language and literacy is an area, perhaps, that we want to focus on, and then you think about a desired outcome, right? What do we want to do? Where do we want to go? What is our hope? What is the outcome that we want to see? What is your goal around language and literacy or specifically around that rhyming and letter naming, something that you might be assessing regularly. What is your goal around the rate of family engagement that you see, for example. We understand current status. This is where we are, and then that desired outcome. Where is it that we want to go?
And then we think about by when, right? So here is where we are. This is our present level of performance. We can think about there as where we are in the map. This is where we want to go. Now where do we want to go by when? This is where we want to go by the end of the year. This is where we want to go by winter. This is where we want to go by the next assessment check-in point. Wherever that is, you think about what's that implementation timeline that you want to see increase in practice, improvement in practice. Then, we think about how we're going to collect data to monitor that progress and refine the practice, OK? So one of the things that sometimes happens is we do collect data at the beginning, and we collect data at the very end and we learn that not much improvement has been made. Or some improvement has been made, but there are a lot of children that didn't make improvement. Or some classrooms improve practice, but there are a lot of classrooms that didn't and we don't take the time to monitor in between and have lots of reflective dialogues in between so that we can implement better, right? One of my very favorite books on this topic is called "Learning to Improve," and it's by Tony Bryk and some of his colleagues, and that book really talks about this idea of learning fast to implement well, and I think that's what we do through reflective dialogues. We learn fast to implement well. We say, "This is where we currently are. We really want to focus on language and literacy. We're going to strengthen our language and literacy teaching practices and we would like to see improvement where all children are at expected age level by the end of the year," right? I've implemented my time line, but how am I going to get there? I'm going to make sure that I'm monitoring that on a very frequent basis, that we're going to have maybe weekly meetings around our data to say, "How's it going?" That is where reflective dialogues help. They really facilitate that practice of learning fast to implement well. The idea might be that we're going really … We're going to take on this additional curriculum, a supplemental curriculum around language and literacy, and then we're going to ask teachers every week to tell us, how's it going? What have you changed? Have you tweaked it in any way that worked well for certain children that you can share with other teachers? We're going to have multiple reflective dialogues. I'm going to meet regularly with teachers and look at their child data and say, "Huh? How's everyone doing in your classroom? Who's benefiting? Who's not? What do you notice from that data?”
That's just a nice visual to help you think about how reflective dialogues help us learn fast and implement well so that we can reach our desired outcomes. We want to give you another moment to reflect on your current practice, and we're going to share some examples and videos with you of what you might do differently. The first essential part of reflective dialogue is making time for formal and informal check-ins around how children and families are doing. I'd love for people to write in to the Q&A, how are you doing this? How are you doing this in your programs? You can write it in the Q&A or you can jot it down. Think about that right now. What are your routines for formal and informal check-in conversations? How frequently do they happen? Do they happen with all educational staff? Do they happen with families? Think about that. Now, in just a moment, we're going to watch a video of a formal check-in where a staff member is meeting with a coach to reflect on observation data. Notice what is being shared in this video, what is being discussed about a particular child's development, and how the staff can modify practice. So just see if you can catch some of those things as we watch this video.
Woman: You see how being friends are at school?
Child: Let me [Indistinct], let me [Indistinct]. I think [Indistinct].
Woman: One, two, three, eyes on me.
Woman #2: When [Indistinct] in line with them. He was going to start counting and then he said, "No, no, no. It's my turn.”
Woman #3: He wanted control over that situation?
Woman #2: Yeah.
Woman #3: OK.
Woman: [Indistinct] figure out who's going to jump on that train before he does, and he's watching everybody, including the teachers.
Woman #2: Yes.
Woman #3: Mm-hmm.
Woman #2: Because even when Ms. Stacy said, "I'm going to ask you a question," he said, "Oh, let me tell them. Let me tell them.”
Woman #3: To control over the activities, basically.
Woman: Yes. In fact, it's like the teacher timed it to compete with the other teacher. If that would be the case. He wants to run the classroom with my guidance, of course, but he wants to be in charge. Sure.
Woman #2: [Indistinct] continue.
Child: But we have friends in our classroom.
Woman: Even more involved with the camera or the filming, and I was trying to get them to figure out who was missing. I think maybe that concept was way above what I was looking for. I understand. It's frustrating, and I call on one and his voice goes over theirs.
Woman #3: Do you think the other peers are getting frustrated?
Woman: Very frustrated, and they get bored of his arguing and … They do try to verbalize to him, "We don't like that.” And he says, "Don't talk to me no more," you know? Those skills there of anger and frustration on his part are pretty in sync with a child much older to me. I just feel like he's got the … some kind of social skills in a way of older child, expectations of an older child at a preschool level, and he wants that response at a higher-level and we're not giving that because we're at a preschool. If I'm being clear here.
Woman #3: So he can identify his emotions and feelings really well, even more so than typically preschoolers do at their age.
Woman #3: But he does it in such a strong way that it interrupts others typically.
Woman: Uh-huh, and his is the best and his is the most important, and while that's egocentric and I understand that's an age thing with the children, everybody in that circle's egocentric, and they want to be part of that.
Woman #3: Sure, how do we incorporate other people and have him let other people have control over the group time. The reason why in the behavior plan we had originally said, "Let's set a visual timer and let him sit there to the max that he can sit there appropriately, and then let him do another activity and we will slowly build his time after awhile," is because we want him in group learning, but we want him to be there and actually learning appropriately, right? And so that's the aim for kindergarten is that a teacher will be able to teach him in a group setting, but you're right. He's doing it inappropriately. If he's always in control and he's always disruptive and he's always trying to get that attention, then it's not effective. We want to get it an appropriate way. I think it's totally fine to let's do it in small increments and build him up. I know that Valerie was saying that you tried to do that at the table by cleaning and giving him a job to clean up, and that didn't work, and that's OK. We can come up with another activity to put him into. He's still learning. He's still listening to what's going on at circle, and if he decides he wants to come back to circle and sit there appropriately, he's always welcome. And also, just I know you didn't do it today, but I know you do go over those circle time rules, and that needs to happen in a visual way every time you sit together in group so that you can reinforce throughout your group time. Thank you, ladies, so much for letting me come and observe today.
Woman #2: Thank you.
Woman: Thank you for being a support for us.
Woman #3: Anytime. I want to type up all the input that we had today and the revisions that we made to the behavior plan, and then let's come back together in a few days. I'll do some more observations and let's continue to work on this behavior so that we can have positive interactions here with him.
Woman #2: Sounds good. Sounds great to me. Thank you very much.
Gail: I think that some of the things I hope that people picked up on, some of the things the coach was using in that informal kinds reflection time. Here, she's speaking specifically about one child's behavior support plan, using that kind of informal, reflective dialogue to think about improving practice – where they would be able to review kind of the prior practices that we're being used, like the timer, etc. – and encourage the new tools and strategies, like a new strategy, maybe it's around she had the strategy of moving from using cleaning up to trying something else. That could be a way for that child to be occupied after they finish their time at circle. One of the things I really noticed about that is that the coach worked hard to create a safe space to try some new strategies, right? To talk about using the video to reflect on what's happening, how that teacher is feeling about it, what she feels comfortable with using new strategies or not.
These times can also be used to support staff to self-reflect on their biases. Why is it that you think that you call on these two girls in the classroom more than you call on anybody else in the classroom? Why is it that you think you spend a lot of time redirecting this child, but not this child? They can use that time once they've built that trust. Here, the data source wasn't a graph. It was a video. [Laughter] Then, having honest discussions about any injustices that the staff observes. Those are some other great times using, building that trust in that safe space in a reflective dialogue is a great time to start bringing up some of those things about what might be happening and why in terms of kind of the justice. All right. Vanessa?
Vanessa: Thanks, Gail. I'm going to invite folks to go back to that Post-it Note about their why and kind of pull that back off your screen. Maybe jot down some of the data sources that you use to support moving your practice to reach the goals that you have as part of your why. List them, they can be like we just saw in the video of children in action, teachers implementing their practice along with those bar graphs and charts and other data source. I invite you to write those down. One that I'm always excited to hear is when people want to include attendance data, not only just for the children, but for the staff and for families in parent engagement nights. Think about those data sources and jot them down.
I wanted to highlight a resource for you that we have in the resource widget that we're not going to use right now because we want you to take it with you, sit back, relax, and enjoy it. It's a video on how education leaders can support the collection and use of data in their programs and how they can support teachers to be kind of the data users and really get excited about using their data. Highlighting that resource for you as we move on. Gail, can you talk to us about making meaning of the different types of data that folks may have been writing down as I was chatting?
Oh, Gail. I think you're on mute, sadly.
Gail: Sorry about that. That's one of the rookie mistakes. This is … I just want to say a little bit about how education leaders can use multiple types of data and reflective dialogues, and you can definitely … You use this time to help educational staff understand children's or staffs’ perspectives to integrate data into planning, right? Understand taking smaller snapshots of data more frequently so that there's data to discuss at those reflective dialogues. I think if we're only thinking about data that's collected three times a year and those reflection dialogue or reflective dialogues only taking place after these big, major data collection, that's not frequent enough, you know? If we look at our graphic, that's just not frequent enough to make the types of changes and small, little practice changes that will help make a difference. Integrating that data into planning, so OK, you're planning that lesson. What data will help you understand if that lesson was effective? What things might you see a child do or learn and how frequently, and how can we collect little pieces of data that then we can reflect on at the end of that day?
These reflective dialogues can help us also conduct deep review of summative or qualitative evidence and examine its meaning, and we can also use these times to elevate the value in data for informing practice and children's learning. I really, really, really think that data can be incredibly motivating and inspiring to get to that why. Why we are here, and when you can see data and you can see some things is improving, it has such a powerful motivator to keep doing that practice or to tweak it a little bit more, to see the skill challenge that can be elicited when I look at data and I say, "Wow. You know, these children are doing really great, but what about these children? What can I change or tinker with my practice to change to improve that and to let educators be inspired by that data to tinker with their practice, where they're actually asking for more data," right? I would like more data collected. I want to know how children are doing in my program. I want to know if what I'm doing is effective. That is something that can happen from reflective dialogues.
Now just think for a moment, some time to reflect really quickly here. We don't have the luxury of lots of reflection time, but we do want to give you a little bit of moment here to just say, "How have you collaborated with staff and families to make sense of data about children's learning and development?” Families are a very essential source of information to better understand how children are developing. Sharing data with families in an accessible way and engaging families in data-driven conversations is another critical aspect of gathering a holistic data picture on children's well-being. What are your current practices around collaborating with staff and families to make sense of data? Maybe just think about that for a moment and how you are doing that.
Then, I think maybe some people have seen this visual before. This is one of my very favorite data graphs. Now, as a professor at a research university, I see a lot of data and I see a lot of data displayed, but I have to say that this data is one of my favorite data displays ever. It comes from our colleague. But this is a great example from a Head Start program of how the program used data for improvement. They decided to make the data visible to educators and families in the program, so they put a poster in a [Inaudible] place where a family dropping off children and they said, "Hey. We need your help here. Look at what data -- Look at how our data is improving.” Remember before I said, "Maybe a program finds out that language and literacy is the area that they really want to focus in on, that they're finding their children are a little bit lower in that domain.” Well, this is a program that did that, and they really wanted to focus on some things like letter naming and rhyming, which we know are some really important early literacy skills. And so they collected data on a regular basis and then they posted the data progress, right? From beginning to the next time check they had to mark their goal … Right there, is that straight black line across there, and you can see that with letter naming, letter identification, they have exceeded that goal. Yeah. Way to go. We did it. Right? And that's because families were also helping, and then with rhyming they're not quite at where they want to be. What I love about this is they display it for families and then they also say, "Let's work together. Let's keep trying. Here is some fun ideas to do with your child." That little pocket is filled with things that the families can help with. How inspiring, and you know what, in that program families started asking to see the data. Where are we? Did we make it yet? Are we there yet? It's just such a great example of how data can be strengthened by sharing with families, so which I think is really fantastic. We are going to now hand it over to you, Vanessa.
Vanessa: Thanks, Gail. As we have been discussing throughout our time together ways to bring in reflective dialogues, we kind of wanted to leave you thinking and pondering as we move to our question and answer time, kind of how will you embed these into your practice. What will you do next? What would you do differently?
And our next and final webinar on the 5Rs will be in August, on the 24th. I hope you join us. I say this for every R. I think it's my favorite because it's around recognition, which is so, so vitally important. Please join us for that, and as we have been talking throughout, please join us on MyPeers. We don't have to stop at this one hour together. We can really pull and stretch out our conversation longer on MyPeers. Join us there, ask questions, respond, share your cool data displays. Let's inspire each other around collecting, using, and reflecting on data. Gail, any last thoughts before we close out?
Gail: No. I just want to say thank you, thank you to everyone for giving these great ideas, and I'm going to head over to MyPeers.
Vanessa: Sounds good. All right. Take care, everyone.Close
In this five-part series, the National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching, and Learning (NCECDTL) introduces the 5Rs for Early Learning Leaders: Responsive Relationships, Reason, Resources, Reflective Dialogue, and Recognition. The 5Rs describe ways education managers promote quality teaching and learning in their programs. In the fourth Education Manager Series webinar, explore how to embed reflective dialogue in conversations with education staff as they use child-level data to plan for equitable learning opportunities. Discover how reflective dialogue promotes a culture of inquiry, awareness, data-informed decision-making, and continuous improvement toward program goals and child and family outcomes.
Note: The evaluation, certificate, and engagement tools mentioned in the video were for the participants of the live webinar and are no longer available. For information about webinars that will soon be broadcast live, visit the Upcoming Events section.