Educators trained to better help children’s needsPublished 11:40am Friday, November 9, 2012
By Amy Baskin, director of community education for Austin Public Schools
Austin Public Schools Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) and Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) were selected to partner with the Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children (TACSEI) to implement and sustain a professional development system to enhance the knowledge and skills of our staff in meeting the social emotional needs of young children. What this means is that as a program, the Community Learning Center will use evidence-based practices to support the social-emotional development of young children (birth to 5 years old) both in our classrooms and with families in their homes. We will receive extra training, materials, and evaluation tools to help us support young children and families.
All early childhood staff attended training this summer to learn about the TACSEI model and how to incorporate it into our classrooms. As a result, we are more intentionally teaching three basic expectations within our school. These expectations are, “Be safe, be a friend and be responsible.” Rules and guidelines have been developed for every area of the school regarding how we want students to display each expectation through their behavior and interaction with others. Students are acknowledged and rewarded when they follow the expectations.
Our language with students has also changed and is more focused on positive reinforcement. For example when a student runs in the hallway they are asked to stop and tell us if they are exhibiting a safe behavior. When a conflict occurs in the classroom between students a problem solving toolkit is used that give, children alternative ways in which to solve the conflict. This allows the student to think and reflect on their action and develop positive ways of reacting in the future.
Three classrooms are piloting TACSEI in full by arranging their rooms in a very specific way, implementing problem solving toolkits for students and tracking behavior data. We plan to expand to all preschool classrooms next school year and move toward implementation with our infant/toddler program.
We are very pleased with the outcomes so far. Students love being recognized and are following expectations. Language is being used with their friends and families. One parent reported to us that her older children were bickering and her youngest child turned to them and told them that they were not being a friend.
We believe in the value of building minds and building children’s social, emotional, and behavioral abilities. For more information on TACSEI visit http://www.challengingbehavior.org.