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5 Optimizing the Learning Environment for Effective and Equitable Curriculum Delivery
Pages 183-214

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From page 183...
... In accordance with this report's central focus on issues of equity, the chapter calls attention to the urgent need for bias-free, anti-racist, and culturally responsive learning environments as a precondition for learning. Both streams of knowledge -- on the developing child and on developmentally enriching environments -- are foundational to ensuring equitable access to effective curricula for all children.
From page 184...
... highlights the need to identify dimensions of ECE environments that support effective and equitable curriculum delivery and, specifically, that offer learning opportunities that center minority children's experiences, needs, and assets and thus provide all children with access to developmentally supportive learning opportunities (Phillips, Johnson, & Iruka, 2022)
From page 185...
... . Avoidance of adverse experiences that undermine these basic needs is central to establishing ECE settings that support effective and equitable curriculum delivery.
From page 186...
... . The vast majority of young children learn and thrive in ECE settings, as documented by the large literature on the positive developmental impacts of child care, Head Start, and pre-K (Johnson, 2017; Phillips et al., 2017; Yoshikawa et al., 2013)
From page 187...
... Alongside evidence of the potent role played by young children's close relationships with their early educators in their adjustment to and functioning within ECE setting is documentation that close, conflict-free educator–child relationships are not shared equally by all children. In particular, evidence is mounting that teachers rate their relationships with Black children -- and Black boys, in particular -- as well as children from lower-income families, as more conflictual across the elementary years regardless of academic performance or behavior (Jerome, Hamre & Pianta, 2009; Wood, Essien, & Blevins, 2017)
From page 188...
... While the socioeconomic status of the children's families did not predict experiences of subordination, children from families of lower socioeconomic status exhibited more adverse impacts from such experiences, suggesting heightened vulnerability to social rejection. Olsen has documented similar phenomena among preschoolers in her work on the origins and dynamics of peer aggression in Head Start classrooms (Olsen, 1992)
From page 189...
... , multilingual learners are at risk of becoming socially isolated because they do not speak the same language as their peers and teachers. Educators can play a highly influential role -- sometimes portrayed as the "invisible hand" -- in preventing such instances of social exclusion, promoting positive peer interaction, and thus alleviating threatening or exclusionary peer interactions (Farmer et al., 2011)
From page 190...
... and warrant immediate attention in teacher training and professional development efforts. For example, kindergarten teachers have been reported to view Black boys as demonstrating poor self-regulation and social skills (Williford and colleagues, 2021: Wood, Essien, & Blevons, 2017)
From page 191...
... . For example, ECE teachers in high-poverty schools or Head Start programs have reported rates of depression ranging from 25% to 50% (Hamre & Pianta, 2004; \ Whitaker et al., 2013)
From page 192...
... PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE ECE WORKFORCE Professional development is key to implementing curriculum to support child outcomes. In its review of the research evidence, the committee found that coaching, training, and/or mentoring that accompany a well-structured, sequenced curriculum are highlighted as key factors Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs
From page 193...
... For example, a family childcare provider may have access to different types and amounts of support from those that can be accessed by professionals in a Head Start program. Additionally, the availability of and access to professional learning supports can vary greatly from place to place.
From page 194...
... For this to happen, professional learning and workforce development must be driven by the science of child development and supported by coherent evaluation and assessment systems. The 2015 IOM and NRC report also identifies key features of effective professional learning for instructional practices (Box 5-1)
From page 195...
... This means having supportive policies, adequate staffing, and access to highquality professional development opportunities (see IOM and NRC, 2015 for an in-depth discussion of factors that contribute to quality professional practice and an overview of ongoing professional learning for ECE educators)
From page 196...
... The critical importance of identifying effective approaches to addressing educator biases and other exclusionary practices in ECE classrooms and their pernicious impacts on young children's learning and development is clear. Absent focused attention to establishing learning environments that protect children from the adverse impacts of stressful encounters with peers and educators, support their feelings of safety and security, and celebrate their diverse backgrounds, even the best designed curricula will fall short of desired impacts.
From page 197...
... Gay (2018) developed a framework of culturally responsive teaching emphasizing that specific strategies and classroom practices must connect to and build on children's cultural knowledge and experiences in their families and communities to support their identities and promote new learning.
From page 198...
... , but these emerging African-centered curricula provide some options for further exploration. Another strategy for better serving Black children is to leverage their cultural and linguistic practices -- including using African American Vernacular English (AAVE)
From page 199...
... Connecting Cultural Learning Experiences in American Indian and Alaska Native Classrooms and Communities" with the Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework (ECLKC, 2024)
From page 200...
... . Similar to Krasnoff's concerns about the state of evidence around culturally responsive instruction as it affects children's outcomes, research on specific strategies for reducing implicit and explicit racial biases and their harmful manifestations in ECE settings is similarly sparse.
From page 201...
... Curenton and colleagues recommend an experimental study of a professional development intervention related to anti-racist pedagogy as the next step toward identifying its causal impacts on children's learning and development. In addition, Head Start has also developed a program quality assessment tool -- the Native Culture & Language in the Classroom Observation (NCLCO)
From page 202...
... Absent attention to these broader dynamics of ECE settings, even the best-designed curricula will fall short of desired impacts. • Scaffolding of inclusive peer interactions; elimination of biases that undermine the development of close, affirming educator–child relationships; and reliance on warm, consistent, and proactive classroom management strategies are essential to the effective delivery of equitable curriculum, and need to be incorporated into the core elements of both curriculum design and professional development.
From page 203...
... Practices and policies aimed at effective curriculum delivery need to embrace this broader context within which educators teach and children learn. REFERENCES Aboud, F.E., Tredoux, C., Tropp, L., Brown, C
From page 204...
... . A professional development program to improve math skills among preschool children in Head Start.
From page 205...
... . Fostering high-quality teaching with an enriched curriculum and professional development support: The Head Start REDI program.
From page 206...
... . Head Start CARES for Migrant and Seasonal Families: Adapting a Preschool Social-Emotional Curriculum.
From page 207...
... . https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/policy/im/acf im-hs-15-02 Head Start Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (2021)
From page 208...
... : strategies to advance culturally responsive pedagogy and equitable learning opportunities for young Black children. Theory into Practice, 1-17.
From page 209...
... . Understanding and improving classroom emotional climate and behavior management in the real world: The role of Head Start teachers' psychosocial stressors.
From page 210...
... Office of Head Start, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
From page 211...
... . A new look at teacher interactional quality: Profiles of individual teacher–child relationship and classroom teaching quality among Head Start students.
From page 212...
... . Native language and culture experiences among children in Region XI Head Start classrooms and programs: Findings from the American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey 2015 (OPRE Report No.
From page 213...
... . Preschool curricula and professional development features for getting to high-quality implementation at scale: A comparative review across five trials.
From page 214...
... . Workplace stress and the quality of teacher– children relationships in Head Start.


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