Oct 22nd 2013

Effective Classroom Interactions: Supporting Young Children’s Development (Coursera)

Created by: Delivered by:

During the early childhood years children gain knowledge and skills that provide the foundation for later learning. Young children learn many of these skills through the interactions they have with their teachers. This course is intended to increase teachers’ knowledge about specific types of teacher-child interactions that promote young children’s development. The course will focus on helping teachers to offer emotionally supportive interactions to the children in their care.

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 development.

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.

More info: