In the described scenario, the staff member observed to have minimal communication and harsh responses is currently completing lessons in the Safe Environments course. Review the competency reflection for Safe Environments here: https://www.virtuallabschool.org/direct-care/safe-environments/competency-reflection, and answer the questions to problem-solve ways to help this staff member.
Which competency statements are related to the described practices in the scenario, how staff communicate and guide children?
Observation or Conversation #3 “Teach children how to use toys and materials safely.” Observation or Conversation #10 “Encourage children to explore and plan activities that extend or enhance outdoor activities.”
Explain how these competency statements are connected to the described observation.
Observation or Conversation #3 “Teach children how to use toys and materials safely.” When teachers display harsh responses, it is often after children engage in behavior they do not desire. Running, not sharing, unsafe practices with scissors—are all examples of when you might expect a teacher prone to harsh responses to interact with children in this way. You might see a teacher grab the objects out a child’s hands or yell “stop” instead of talking about and modeling for them what they would like to happen instead.
Observation or Conversation #10 “Encourage children to explore and plan activities that extend or enhance outdoor activities.” We can encourage children to explore learning environments and enhance their experiences through warmth and communication. When teachers minimally respond to, talk with, and interact with children during activities, these are missed opportunities to teach children new concepts and encourage their interests.
How would you rate the staff member for each of these competencies?
I would rate the staff member as 1 (emerging) for both competencies. These practices — minimal communication with children and harsh responses¬ — show they need to build their understanding of these areas of their work.
What sort of feedback can you give to this staff member to encourage goal setting around these practices? How would you go about providing that feedback?
To address harsh responses and the rating of 1 for #3, I would tell the staff member, “This rating is based on my observation, but could you tell me about some other ways you teach children safety?” If the staff member gave good examples of how to do this, I would reinforce those good examples. I might make a point to do an observation during a time when opportunity for them to demonstrate their described practices would naturally occur. If they struggled to explain or give examples, then I might ask them to share examples of when children they care for behave unsafely and schedule a time to model based on those activities or routines.
To address #10, I would again tell the staff member that the rating is based on my observation but also ask them to provide examples of how they do this other times that I didn’t observe. If their responses didn’t quite connect I might ask, “How do you think talking with and joining children during play and activities helps them explore and learn?”
To round out the conversation, I would recap that they key practices discussed are (1) teaching what you want children to do to prevent unsafe behavior, (2) providing positive feedback when children meet these expectations, and (3) joining children during activities by talking with them, narrating/asking questions (if appropriate), and helping them so they get the most out of their outdoor and indoor activities. This way, it is very clear what I am specifically observing for to improve these competencies.