- Resources & Research
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High quality early childhood programs are making news. U.S. News & World Report notes that teachers hold the key to high quality and can make a difference – especially for low-income children. The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) also highlights the contact point with children that makes an impact: High-quality teaching. When you unlock the front door to your program and begin each day, you can be sure your hard work matters.
Child Trends shows that program leaders create a pathway to high-quality by fostering a culture of continuous quality improvement. Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) is a “process which ensures that organizations and their partners are systemic and intentional about improving services and practices, and increasing positive outcomes for children and families.” There are four ingredients to CQI: Create a shared vision for quality, build your staff’s skills, determine what else needs to be done, and celebrate your successes. So where do you start?
As you begin or continue in the CQI process, you will explore professional development opportunities and participate in your state’s quality rating and improvement system. With so many priorities, where should you focus? With so many choices, what should you do first? Have you wondered what you can you do daily to inspire positive change? The answer is to begin with small steps that have high impact.
Everything you do with teachers should accomplish two basic goals. First – what you do should motivate teachers to engage. Second, the most motivating strategies are those that have immediate impact. What you do first should bring about positive change teachers can see and feel good about accomplishing. In this way, positive change feels “doable,” rather than a lofty goal that might be reached some time down the road.
The following five strategies will jumpstart and inspire positive change. Start with the first strategy and add one more each week. In five weeks, your program will be buzzing with fresh conversation and increased engagement. Change doesn’t need to be complicated. Simple approaches are reassuring and can be fun. Get ready, get set – and make a difference!
As you introduce these strategies, provide time at staff meetings to discuss the impact. Ask teachers to brainstorm additional ideas for improvement and celebration. As you build on these simple steps, you will find that teachers step up to take ownership of growth. Invite them to talk about opportunities and needs they experience. These vital conversations will provide a rich and fertile ground to introduce other elements of CQI as you lead your program forward to ongoing positive change.
Once you set the stage for growth, take the next steps. McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership offers a three-part series that will jumpstart your journey. The training modules include Moving Forward with Continuous Quality Improvement, Supporting Leadership through Collaborative Learning, and Coaching for Success. In addition to earning 9.0 professional development clock hours, you will renew your vision and sharpen your leadership skills. Please contact us at the McCormick Center and let us know how we can help you achieve your quality improvement goals.
Marie Masterson, PhD, is the Director of Quality Assessment at the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership at National Louis University. She is a national speaker, child behavior expert, researcher, and author of multiple books and articles that address high-quality teaching, early care and education, and parenting.
Barnett, W.S., Weisenfeld, G.G., Brown, K., Squires, J., & Horwitz, M. (2016, July 29). Implementing 15
essential elements for high quality: A state and local policy scan. Retrieved from: http://nieer.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/15EssentialElements-FINAL.pdf
Cisneros, C. (2018, September 3). Teachers are the key to quality education: Paying early childhood education teachers more would help ensure a high quality program. U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved from: https://www.usnews.com/news/education-news/articles/2018-09-03/expanding-early-childhood-education-is-critical
Forry, N., Tout, K., Daily, S., Halle, T. (2013, April 26). 5 ways to improve the quality of early care and education. Retrieved from: https://www.childtrends.org/child-trends-5/5-ways-to-improve-the-quality-of-early-care-and-education
Masterson, M. (2018). Let’s Talk Toddlers: A Practical Guide to High-Quality Teaching. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press.
Young, B. (2017, June). Continuous quality improvement in early childhood and school age programs: An update from the field. Retrieved from: https://qrisnetwork.org/sites/all/files/session/resources/Continuous%20Quality%20Improvement%20in%20Early%20Childhood%20and%20School%20Age%20Programs%20-%20An%20Update%20from%20the%20Field.pdf
Zero to Three. (2017, September 7). Infant-Toddler Child Care Fact Sheet. Retrieved from: https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/2012-infant-toddler-child-care-fact-sheet