The COVID-19 pandemic has had a destabilizing effect on preschool and infant-toddler classrooms across the country, impacted by substantial staff losses, pressure on families, safety demands and financial shortfalls. Program staff are currently under immense pressure to reimagine teaching, learning and family engagement.
When navigating unprecedented obstacles, a strong and supportive environment is critical for children and families to thrive and to ensure educator’s well-being. A strong organizational climate is the foundation for the connectivity and collaboration that staff need to feel motivated and confident, even and especially when physically distant from their colleagues.
For many years, Start Early has focused on helping the early childhood field broaden the focus of improvement efforts beyond the classroom to the organizational conditions that support staff and families. Throughout the ongoing pandemic, we’ve continued our work with programs across the country to help them strengthen their organizational conditions through The Essential 0-5 Survey — an evidence-based measurement system for program improvement. We are inspired to see programs’ continued focus on staff well-being, instructional leadership, collaboration, and continuous quality improvement.
Data collected during this pandemic through The Essential 0-5 Survey will not be an outlier. Even (and especially with!) the pressures of this unique situation, survey data point to critical patterns of organizational culture and climate. For example, if staff do not have relational trust during a crisis, these same patterns will emerge when not in crisis. In other words, patterns that emerge during this acute situation may point to chronic issues.
Now more than ever, we are witnessing how imperative it is for programs to have systems in place that foster healthy, safe and positive environments. If you’re interested in learning more, check out the research-to-practice report “Early Education Essentials: Illustrations of Strong Organizational Practices of Program Poised for Improvement”. The Essential 0-5 Survey is available online to support your program in this virtual environment. Email professionaldevelopment@StartEarly.org to get started today.