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2018 Q2 Newsletter Update

Additional Focused Topics Courses, Update on Program Tools and VLS Features

Two New Focused Topics Courses Now Available

The Virtual Lab School now contains two additional courses in its Focused Topics track: Creating Gender Safe Spaces and Essentials in Child Care Food Service, making a total of three courses available in this track, including Social Emotional Learning for Teachers which went live earlier this year!

Essentials in Child Care Food Service

This seven-lesson course, developed for both seasoned and new kitchen staff in child care settings, thoroughly covers a range of topics, such as menu planning, the developmental benefits of family-style dining, and pathogens and allergens.

Creating Gender Safe Spaces

Learn the facts about gender identity and development to better support all children in your program and connect with families. The course contains information, strategies, activities, and resources to construct inclusive programs. The training helps staff create environments that help all children, including those who are gender-expansive or LGBTQ, develop healthy self-esteem and feel authentic and safe.

Program Tools Update

We are currently working on a number of changes to the Competency Checklists and Trainer’s Guides that will be released later this summer. Just as your programs strive to continuously improve, we are also constantly reviewing user feedback and devising new ways to improve the training, tools and supports provided on the VLS. The new Competency Checklists will emphasize reflection and a continual growth model, making them a great tool to support new, as well as more seasoned, staff members. The new Trainer’s Guides will be automated, or built from the most current list of Learn, Explore and Apply resources and activities associated with each lesson, and a Family Child Care version will be available. We know some of you have submitted support requests regarding outdated attachment names on the Trainer's Guides; we greatly appreciate your patience while we roll out this update, which will eliminate this issue in the future.

The Competency Checklists, Trainer’s Guides, and End of Course Assessments will also be moving to a web-based format instead of PDF.  The new formats will provide a more user-friendly experience in accessing all course activities and resources via a webpage that always reflects the latest VLS content. These updates will also replace our previous feature of zipped file folders so that we may reduce confusion in version conflicts and streamline VLS maintenance. Watch the VLS News over the summer for further details and updates about these changes.   

Research Update

The Importance of Quality Coaching

If you attended a VLS training, you probably remember the compelling, evidence-based information Drs. Sarah Lang and Kathleen Artman-Meeker share about the efficacy of coaching partnerships vs. trainings without a coaching component. With a coaching component added to training, teachers are much more likely to apply key, developmentally appropriate practices in their work with children and families. If you attended a VLS training and joined a cohort, remember your colleagues are a valuable resource; you can support each other as you work to implement quality coaching. Remember the importance of coaching conversations, which include a balance of specific, supportive feedback that highlights what the provider is doing well, reflective questioning to facilitate problem solving, and constructive feedback to refine caregivers' practices. Check out more resources on coaching provided by the Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center:

Is the VLS Available in Languages Other Than English?

In the Q1 Newsletter, we provided information about screen readers, however during our VLS trainings, participants often ask about whether the VLS is available in languages other than English. At this point in time, the VLS will remain in the language the DoD requires of its CDC and SAC employees: English. However, because the VLS is a web-based service, you can use add-ons or extensions in your web browser to read VLS web pages in non-English languages.

Please note, the listings below are only examples of applications that translate web pages; they have not been tested by our staff nor are they endorsed by the Virtual Lab School, VLS funders, or VLS Partners. In addition, before use, it is important to research any third-party application to ensure it complies with the policies set by your IT department. Talk to your local IT staff and Security Point of Contact to know if a translating extension or add-on would be safe and feasible to use on your program.

Some browser options for translation:

  • Chrome browser: Add-on extension – Google Translate
  • Opera browser: Add-on extension – Translate Web Page
  • Firefox browser: Add-on extension – Google Translator for Firefox
  • Safari: Add-on extension – Translate Safari
  • Windows OS: Add on extension – Translator for Windows
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer – Google Translate
  • Microsoft Edge:  Translator for Microsoft Edge