Preliminary Readings

Please try to read the following resources before you attend the meeting.  This will help you become immersed in the research and policy issues impacting the theme of our meeting.

  1. A Window to the World: Early Language and Literacy Development from ZERO TO THREE
  2. Creating Coherence: Common Core Standards, Teacher Evaluation and Professional Learning from the Center on Great Leaders and Teachers
  3. Excellent Teachers for Each and Every Child: A Guide for State Policy from a partnership of seven organizations.
  4. Understanding and Mastering Complexity: The Five New Cognitive Complexities that Teachers Confront by Donna Wilson and Marcus Conyers

Invitation to Observe and Learn

We are designing the 2014 Roundtable to offer an opportunity for deep discussion on how state policymakers can support all teachers and administrators to improve the quality of teaching in birth through third grade settings. Some of you may already spend lots of time in the field, and others of us have not had the opportunity recently. In order to situate our discussion in the every day realities of teacher’s and children’s experience, we invite you to consider spending a day in the field, observing in an early learning classroom and talking with teachers, students, and principals or program directors. If you are unable to visit a classroom or talk to teachers directly, we have identified some videos that may be useful (though not quite as compelling as a face to face visit!).

We plan to build in lots of time to share your observations and impressions in discussions with national leaders, invited experts, and colleagues, all with a focus on supporting state leaders in their important role of improving the quality of teaching.

Suggestions for Observing and Talking to Teachers and Administrators

Your lens for the visit should be “Improving the Quality of Teaching for Birth – 3rd Grade,” the theme of the 2014 Roundtable. You are not being asked to conduct formal assessments; rather, you are encouraged to observe and reflect on what you see and hear.  In particular, pay attention to:

  • Interactions– among children, children and teachers, teachers and parents, etc.
  • Schedules and use of time
  • Curriculum (content, program models)
  • Methods for teaching
  • Adaptations for inclusive teaching and learning
  • Assessment and documentation strategies
  • Family engagement

We suggest that you visit an age/grade classroom that is outside your typical focus or responsibilities. As a pre-K specialist, you may want to visit an infant-toddler program or second grade classroom. If you have an opportunity to talk with teachers or administrators in the course of your day, consider collecting responses to the following questions to share at the meeting:


  • What do you love most about teaching?
  • What do you find most challenging about your work?
  • What impresses you about excellent teaching among your colleagues? What do you look for?
  • How much latitude do you have in making decisions about your teaching (e.g., curriculum models, teaching strategies, scheduling, etc.)?
  • If you could change the direction of early education, where would you take it?
  • What additional support would you like to improve the effectiveness of your teaching?


  • How much of your time are you able to devote toward being an instructional leader or coach?
  • How do you support teachers? Children? Families?
  • What was most helpful in preparing you to be the leader of this program/school?
  • What additional information or experience would have been useful before taking on this role?
  • How does the state department of education make your work easier? Harder?


  • What do you like most about school? Least?
  • What have you learned this year that is really important for children to know?
  • Is there anything you’re having a hard time learning? What does your teacher do to help?What makes your teacher so special? 

Video Options - If you can’t get to a classroom, see these videos to hear teachers talking about their work:

State Developed Videos