A PUBLICATION OF THE CHILDREN'S LEARNING INSTITUTE
Revolutionizing Infant-Toddler Care in Texas
For years there was a void in infant-toddler care. The availability and quality of programs varied greatly making it difficult for all programs to receive equal opportunities for technical assistance, professional development, and collaboration.
In 2019 the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) sought a partner to establish an Infant-Toddler Specialist Network (ITSN) in Texas. This would allow Texas, for the first time in its history, to have a network dedicated to not only improving infant and toddler care, but also programs, specialists, teachers, and directors through professional development. It is not a secret that the Children’s Learning Institute (CLI) cares about child development, so when TWC awarded us with the grant, we got to work establishing the Texas ITSN.
A key component to CLI’s proposal for the Texas ITSN was the inclusion of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), groups of professionals that meet to share expertise and work collaboratively to improve skills and knowledge in their practices. These PLCs are crucial to the professional development of infant-toddler caretakers and specialists, providing topic-based small group coaching designed to meet the needs of participants. As research conducted by CLI and others demonstrates, individualized coaching is a promising strategy for improving the quality of children’s learning experiences. For instance, coaching models have been linked to gains in educators’ self-efficacy and can increase teachers’ use of effective instructional strategies, which, in turn, may help teachers to feel more effective and reflective in their teaching practices.
Depending on the specific needs of participants in various education settings, PLCs are organized to best support their ongoing practice. In the Texas ITSN, we use PLCs as online meetings with eight people that are facilitated by an early childhood specialist who is dedicated to their ongoing professional development. Each PLC will cover an array of topics and attendees will have opportunities to review content, reflect on their own practices, discuss challenges, and share solutions. They will also have opportunities to discuss how to plan for and apply new strategies. CLI conducted a pilot of the ITSN teacher PLCs in Spring 2020, with very positive feedback from teachers.
“I think this is an amazing opportunity for teachers to learn new skills and ideas.”
“I loved it. Thank you.”
“This PLC was informative, and I got to hear what other teachers were implementing.”
“I can’t wait to see what other new things I can learn to implement in my classroom that will help a child with their milestones.”
After months of work, and a pandemic working against us, the Texas ITSN virtual doors are now open for business and ready to recruit and elevate care across the state of Texas. Currently, there are three programs available that infant and toddler caretakers can join.
We are just at the start of the ITSN and cannot wait to get deeply involved with caretakers across the state of Texas to revolutionize infant-toddler care.
To learn more or join ITSN, view the Texas ITSN webpage.