Tag Archives: Head Start

2018 Year in Review: My students receive the Best Reproductive Health thesis in Sweden Award

It’s June 2019, and I’m finally writing my review of 2018. Needless to say, it’s been a bit hectic, not the least of which is because of having baby #2 being born. However, I did take screenshots of different accomplishments on January 1st, so I have the correct numbers 🙂


Officially, I had five publications in 2018. I was able to wrap-up data analysis on my Head Start study I conducted while living in the USA (paper #4). This is the third publication from my research on preschool teacher retention. I was also able to publish, along with my former master students, a paper on screening fathers for postpartum depression (paper #1). I am the most proud of this paper, hoping that it can help lead to real organizational change, where we can start routinely screening fathers for postpartum depression during a new clinical visit for fathers at the Swedish child health centers when their infant is 3-5 months old.

  1. Modin Asper, M., Hallén, N., Lindberg, L., Månsdotter, A., Carlberg, M., & Wells, M.B. (2018). Screening fathers for postpartum depression is cost-effective: An example from Sweden. Journal of Affective Disorders, 241, 154-163. PMID: 30121448


  1. Berglind, D., Nyberg, G., Wilmer, M., Persson, M., Wells, M., & Forsell, Y. (2018). An eHealth program verses a standard care supervised health program and associated heaandaljasdfljaksdflskjlth outcomes in individuals with mobility disability: protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials, 19:258. PMID: 29703242


  1. Bergström, M, Fransson, E., Wells, M.B., Köhler, L., & Hjern, A. (2018). Children with two homes-Psychological problems in relation to living arrangements in Nordic 2-9 year olds. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 1-9. PMID: 29644929


  1. Jeon, L. & Wells, M.B. (2018). An Organizational-Level Analysis of Early Childhood Teachers’ Job Attitudes: Workplace Satisfaction Affects Early Head Start and Head Start Teacher Turnover. Child & Youth Care Forum, 47, 563-581.


5. Kerstis, B., Wells, M.B., & Andersson, E. (2018). Father group leaders’ experience of             creating an arena for father support: A Qualitative Study. Scandinavian Journal of               Caring Sciences, 32, 943-950. PMID: 28906024


These publications bring my total peer-reviewed publications to 20! A nice round number and potentially enough to apply for docent. However, I have three literature reviews, two of which demonstrate a qualitative analysis (e.g. meta-synthesis). However, it’s not clear if these articles count as “original articles”. So far, talking with different levels of Public Health management, it seems the only known consensus is that meta-analyses count, but they do not know about meta-syntheses.

I also published a book chapter with my former master-level supervisor, Dr. Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan.

  1. Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J., Berrigan, M. N., & Wells, M. B. (2018). Rivalry in coparenting at the transition to parenthood. In S. Hart & N. A. Jones (Eds.), The psychology of rivalry. Nova Science Publishers.



In 2017, I had 194 total citations, with an i10-Index of 9 and an H-index of 9, according to ScholarGoogle. The citations, at that time, stated I had 57 citations for 2017. However, as January/February rolled on, these numbers eventually increased to 60 (in 2016 I had 54 citations, so about a 10% increase in citations). In 2018, my citations ended up at an additional 68, so about 13% increase from 2017), for a total of 263 citations and an i10-Index of 10 and H-Index of 10.

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My ResearchGate (RG) numbers also increased to 27.20, placing me in the top 82.5% of RG users. Of course, years ago, I asked a couple of questions and answered a few as well, which thus inflates my RG score compared to those who only use RG to promote their publications. As of now though, there’s no way to see your RG score sans Questions/Answers.

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My colleagues, especially Dr. Sarah Lang & Dr. Lieny Jeon gave two oral presentations, respectively, on our collaborative research:

  1. Lang, S., Wells, M.B., Jeon, L., & Buettner, C.K. (2018, Aug). Examination of coaching as a professional development strategy for ECE professionals: What are we missing? European Early Childhood Education Research Association (EECERA), Budapest, Hungary.
  2. Jeon, L., Buettner, C.K., Lang, S., & Wells, M. (2018, Aug). Perceptions of Professional Development and Teaching Efficacy: Implications for Success or Failure. European Early Childhood Education Research Association (EECERA), Budapest, Hungary.

I was also able to attend two conferences: 1) The World Psychiatric Association Epidemiology and Public Health Section in New York, USA and 2) The National Council on Family Relations Conference in Minnesota, USA.

  1. Wells, M.B. & Lindberg, L. (May 2018). Mental Health Support Swedish Child Health Nurses Provide to Mothers and Fathers: Is it Equal? Poster presented at the World Psychiatric Association Epidemiology and Public Health Section, New York, USA.
  2. Wells, M.B., Modin Asper, M., Hallén, N., Carlberg, M., & Lindberg, L. (May 2018). Screening fathers in Sweden for Postpartum Depression is Cost-effective. Poster presented at the World Psychiatric Association Epidemiology and Public Health Section, New York, USA.
  3. Wells, M.B. (2018, Nov.). Comparing Swedish child health nurses’ attitudes toward fathers in 2014 and 2017. Poster presented at the 2018 National Council on Family Relations, San Diego, CA, USA.
  4. Klittmark, S., Garzón, M., Andersson, E., & Wells, M.B.* (2018, Nov.). LGBTQ Competence Wanted: LGBTQ Parents’ experiences of reproductive healthcare. Poster presented at the 2018 National Council on Family Relations, San Diego, CA, USA.

Grant for Evaluating the Father Visit in Stockholm County Child Health Centers

From 2017-2018, I received a grant to evaluate a new clinical visit for fathers at the Stockholm County child health centers from Stockholm Län Landsting. During 2018 I was able to collect the bulk of the data, since the program was being implemented throughout 2017. I now have both qualitative and quantitative data from the nurses, quantitative data from fathers, and qualitative interviews with the mentors and program management.

The nurses’ quantitative data, in a basic sense, consists of 1) their attitudes towards fathers as carers of infants + background data (Baseline, Time 1, gathered during their half-day trainings in 2017), 2) their attitudes towards the training + if they have started implementing the father visits + their and their CHCs’ attitudes toward implementing the fathers’ visits (Time 2, about 2-3 months post-training), and 3) their self-evaluation of adhering to the implementation of the program + additional support that they require. While the response rate was quite high for Time 1 (87+%), it was a bit over 50% for Time 2 and 3, respectively, suggesting that CHC nurses would rather complete questionnaires during a training session than via email during their normal working day.

I also hired a research assistant to interview nurses’, as well as the mentors/program leaders’ opinions, of how the father visits were going.

I then developed Facebook advertisements aimed at fathers in Stockholm County. The ad allowed FB users to click on it, which took them to the online quantitative survey. I then asked fathers a series of questions referring to i) their socio-demographic background, ii) their pre- and post-natal care involvement and experiences, iii) their involvement and experiences at the CHC home visit, 3-5 week (later 1-3 week) visit, and the 3-5 month father visit. At this stage, fathers could either elect to stop completing the questionnaire and turn it in, or they could continue. If they elected to continue, they would complete three validated questionnaires: i) The Coparenting Relationship Scale, ii) the Parent-infant Bonding Questionnaire, and iii) the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, as the CHC nurses should have helped support fathers in these three aspects. About 424 fathers completed the first section and 290 complete the full questionnaire (first section + three validated questionnaires).

Quantitative data on fathers was collected in December 2018-January 2019. While this survey was anonymous, fathers could add in their email address if they would like to be contacted more in the future. I haven’t exactly run the numbers of this, but I think it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 60% of fathers provided their email address.


I was the supervisor to two master-level theses in 2018. In Nordin and Hedlöf’s thesis, we created a quantitative anonymous online survey regarding women’s sex lives. I was very concerned that they wouldn’t be able to collect data, because the questionnaire asked sensitive questions about women’s sex lives. However, in about two weeks, we had around 2,500 respondents.

  1. Antonia Nordin and Jenny Hedlöf (2018). Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institutet. Perceived genital response is associated with a better satisfaction of sex life—an online survey study (Upplevd genital respons är förknippat med ett mer uppskattat sexlive—en online enkätstudie). I am the main supervisor.
  2. Lotta Huczkowsky Borg and My Linnér (2018). Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institutet. Mammors upplevelser av amning och erfarenheter av amningsstöd: En kvalitativ intervjustudie (Mothers´ experiences of breastfeeding and perceptions of breastfeeding support: A qualitative interview study). I am the main supervisor.

Nordin and Hedlöf’s thesis went on to win the Best Reproductive Health thesis in Sweden award. In all of my personal accomplishments as a researcher, this is the one I am most proud of–seeing my students succeed and do great research!

I was also the examiner for six master-level theses in 2018:

  1. Sanjana Ravi Kumar (2018). Global Health, Department of Public Health Sciences. “Art is an injection that cures us”-Art based interventions for patients with severe mental illness at community mental health centers in Kerala, South India.
  2. Paulien Korsten (2018). Global Health, Department of Public Health Sciences. Effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and feasibility of pre-migration screening for tuberculosis in low-incidence countries: a scoping review.
  3. Yesica Quispe Arbieto & Catarina Simunovich Barraza (2018). Department of Women’s and Children’s Health. Hur utfö barnmorskor och läkare episiotomi? En enkätbaserad pilotstudie (How do midwives and doctors perform episiotomy? A survey based pilot study).
  4. Jaqueline Pettersson & Andréa Packalén (2018). Department of Women’s and Children’s Health. Experiences and knowledge on Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER) while Breastfeeding-A study by means of a mixed method design approach (Erfarenheter och kunskap om Dysforisk mjölkutdrivningsreflex i samband med amning-En studie med hjälp av Mixad metod).
  5. Hanan Abou Hachem & Irma Flores (2018). Department of Women’s and Children’s Health. Kulturtolksdoula – En ”bro” som leder till god förlossningsupplevelse. Arabisktalande kvinnors upplevelse av att få stöd av en kulturtolksdoula under graviditet och förlossning: En kvalitativ tematisk analysstudie (Community based doula – ”A bridge” that leads to a good delivery experience. Experiences of Arabic speaking women of community based doula’s support during late pregnancy and childbirth: A qualitative thematic analysis study).
  6. Johanna Stjarnfeldt (2018). Department of Public Health Sciences. Masculinity, social capital and testing for Chlamydia infection: An explorative study about young men’s experiences of health service utilization for testing for Chlamydia (CT) infection in Stockholm.


I also helped teach in a number of courses within PHS and KBH at KI, as well as in Brain Development at DIS, and in Psychology at Stockholm University. Furthermore, I reviewed for a number of journals.

In total, below are all of the journals I have reviewed for over the years:

  • Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology
  • PLOS One
  • American Journal of Community Psychology
  • Journal of Family Issues
  • BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
  • Health Expectations
  • The International Journal of Human Resource Management
  • Journal of Family Science
  • Early Childhood Development and Care
  • European Journal of Teacher Education
  • Journal of Child Health Care
  • Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences
  • Nordic Journal of Nursing Research
  • Men & Masculinities



Head Start Preschool Teacher Retention

I recently published an article in Early Childhood Research Quarterly (the best early childhood education journal) showing the factors that can predict Head Start preschool teachers quitting their employment across the first half of the school year (click here to read the published article).

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Study Design: Ten Head Start centers in one major Midwest city were recruited to participate (170 total preschool teachers). Head Start preschool teachers with two years or less of experience, were asked to complete a 16-item questionnaire, as well as a demographics questionnaire at the beginning of the school year (n = 65 participating preschool teachers).

In January, half-way through the school year, I learned from the Center Directors who had continued teaching and who had quit. I then compared the scores of those who stayed and those who quit for any differences.

Preschool teachers came from a variety of backgrounds, according to the demographic questionnaire–different races, ages, work experiences, education, etc. There were also some differences between lead and assistant preschool teachers (see full article). However, all but one of the participants were female.

Huge Turnover Rates:

  • 48% of all Head Start teachers were newly hired (within the last two years)!
  • 36% of newly hired teachers quit during the first half of the school year!

The preschool teachers’ salary was not a contributing factor to their quitting their job. In fact, on a one-to-seven scale, preschool teachers who stayed rated their salary as a 3.9, while those who quit rated theirs as a 3.7 (statistically identical)–and both are just above the middle (3.5 out of 7), suggesting that both stayers and quitters think their salary is adequate.

Five factors differed between those who stayed and those who quit:

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Preschool teachers were more likely to quit if they:

  1. did not want to stay teaching in the early childhood education (ECE) field
  2. were not happy
  3. had a bad relationship with their supervisor
  4. did not like their work environment
  5. had a lower education

In addition, the more factors that an individual teacher possessed the more likely they were to quit (e.g. if they did not want to stay in ECE AND were not happy AND did not like their supervisor AND did not like their work environment AND had a low education).

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While those preschool teachers who kept teaching, either did not have any or had only one of these five risk factors.

Conclusion: Preschool teacher turnover affects child outcomes, the quality of the preschool program, the teachers who continue teaching, and those who feel they need to quit their job.

Interventions should use this information to tailor their programs, so that fewer preschool teachers quit their job; yielding positive outcomes for children, parents, the school, and the teachers.

My First Newspaper Interview: Head Start, Teacher Retention, and NPR

In the beginning of March 2013, I was contacted by Elle Moxley to do an interview on my preschool teacher retention research.

Elle Moxely works for StateImpact Indiana: A Reporting Project of NPR Member Stations. See Elle’s reporting here.

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She had somehow heard that I had worked for the University of Indianapolis and that I had done research on preschool teachers of Head Start and the reasons they would give for staying or leaving their place of employment (perhaps through my blog). When she contacted me via email though, I, Michael Wells, was already living in Sweden, where I’m a PhD student in Social Pediatrics.

I became quite excited by the prospect of someone picking up my work and wanting to share it with a greater audience. After all, that’s a reason researchers go to conferences–to spread the word about their research findings. Only now someone will come to me!

After explaining that I lived in Sweden, we decided to do the interview via Skype. However, shortly after saying that I was a PhD student in Social Pediatrics, Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Faculty of Medicine, Uppsala University, Elle quickly changed the conversation from discussing Head Start teacher retention issues (which I had researched) to my political thoughts on President Obama’s stance towards early childhood education (which I had not researched)…and then stated that I used to work at the University of Indianapolis (perhaps because that adds more validity to my research than citing the University that I’m now working for?).

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Sadly the only aspects of my conversation that made it to print weren’t about my research nor about Obama stance, but rather arbitrary details on the cost of preschools for families. The article is printed here and says the following quote:

“Michael Wells is an early education researcher formerly with the University of Indianapolis. He says high quality preschool is out of reach for many middle-income families, let alone those below the poverty level that quality for Head Start.

But what we’re doing is saying, ‘Hey parents, at a time in your life when you’re the youngest — and that’s typically correlated with making the least amount of money you’re every going to make in your life — that’s when you need to pay $8,000, $10,000, $12,000 a year to send one child to preschool.’ “”

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Another very similar article is printed here.

This first interview taught me that:

1) I need to stick to just talking about my research

2) Reporters have their own agenda

3) I get nervous when talking on the spot (even when it’s a topic I know very well)

4) Be careful of anything that you say, because it’s being recorded and could be taken out of context when quoting you (this did not happen with Elle, but was just a lesson to be learned)

Presenting at the 39th Annual Head Start Association Conference: Preschool Teacher Turnover Rates

At the 39th Annual Head Start Association Conference I presented on some preliminary research findings on the issue of teacher retention in a presentation called Relationships Matter: Qualitative Interviews with Head Start Preschool Teachers on Turnover Rates.

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To see the actual presentation powerpoint, click Teacher Retention Research Results NHSA.

Many, in fact, most or nearly all preschools have a problem retaining qualified teachers. Many teachers leave after a short period of time, for a number of reasons. This impacts the young child’s learning, since 1) they are constantly bombarded with new teachers and new personalities and new styles of teaching and 2) they are being taught by less experienced teachers.

Teacher retention also affects the parents. In fact, I had several parents tell me that their child had between 3-8 different preschool teachers all within a school year (depending on the parent–of course these are more extreme cases, but it does happen). And parents find it difficult to form relationships with teachers and in turn may not always be the most up-to-date on their child’s learning and what they need to work on at home.

This also greatly impacts the quality of a preschool program: 1) it’s financially costly. Hiring and training new employees is not easy and takes a lot of man hours and therefore money (not to mention all of the benefits associated with that organization, like health care, which isn’t cheap). 2) New teachers typically means less quality, as they are trying to learn how that organization operates, how the children learn and what their needs are, etc. 3) Old employees become fed-up with having to do a greater share of the workload while new employees are being hired and trained (which can take a long time to find qualified teachers)–which can create a snowball effect of having promising, qualified, experienced teachers leave due to (what some term) “workplace abuse”–where they become agitated by not being fully staffed, which impacts them in multiple ways (such as their work load or trying to take vacation).

In other words, the aim of the study was to learn why Head Start teachers would leave and what changes they want to happen in order to continue working for Head Start

So I sought out what makes preschool teachers at our 10 Head Start centers stay or leave the organization. I conducted qualitative interviews using a clustered randomized designed, where I went to each preschool and interviewed one lead and one assistant preschool teacher (all of which were chosen at random from each school) leading to a total of 10 lead and 10 assistant preschool teacher interviews.

The preliminary results showed 4 themes:

Screen Shot 2013-02-03 at 7.33.03 PMIn relationships matter, the more influence an individual had with a person, the more important they were towards determining if that person would stay or leave the agency, based on their relationship with that person. So for example, if they were the lead preschool teacher, their relationship with their assistant was the most important relationship in determining if they would stay or leave the agency since they spent the most time together (40+ hours per week). Their supervisor became the next important relationship, as they would typically see their supervisor daily. If they had strong relationships with these people, they typically wanted to stay (and some even stated that the only reason they are still here is because of those relationships–despite any other issues that they may have).

Screen Shot 2013-02-03 at 7.37.09 PM Another theme on why teachers would stay or leave the agency revolved around paperwork. Preschool teachers have a lot of paperwork to do. And Head Start teachers have more paperwork than other preschool teachers because of all of the federal guidelines. Not surprisingly then, the preschool teachers were stressed about the paperwork. However, not in the way many imagine. The teachers weren’t stressed that they had to do the paperwork. In fact many of them even thought that most or all of the paperwork was necessary and important. However, the teachers stated that they lacked the time to complete the paperwork. And it was not having built-in reflection time that made them stressed about the paperwork, as the teachers either had to do all of their paperwork while the children were in the classroom, while the children napped (which was often confounded by at least one child not sleeping and therefore needing attention, or they had to bring the paperwork home in order to complete it, which wasn’t ideal for their work or home life). Teachers suggested having a half an hour to an hour either before school or after school each day that was built in for paperwork, where children were not allowed to be there (i.e. starting school at 8am, but having teachers start work at 7:30) or to have half or all day Friday to complete their paperwork). In fact, those who had part-day classrooms had Fridays to complete their paperwork, and those in part-day classrooms were much more likely to be satisfied with the paperwork aspect and therefore stay with the company, while those in full-day classrooms never had a break to do their paperwork and were more likely to leave due to not having time to complete their paperwork.

Teachers working with children in a Head Start program are often aware of child behavior problems. There has been a lot of research to support the idea that young children have behavior problems but that those from poor/impoverished families have about three times more behavior problems than the middle-of-the-road preschool does. Teachers often complained about the severity of the behaviors, alluding to acceptable behavior problems and other problems that should be beyond the reach of any preschool teacher who is trying to teach 19 other children with only one other supporting teacher. Therefore, many teachers suggested that not every child be allowed into the program, as they simply couldn’t serve everyone’s particular needs and that some children might be better served in classrooms or schools that deal with severe behavioral problems.

Lastly, teachers required support. The teachers who stated they either received or did not need support said they would like to stay with the agency while those who needed support, requested support, but didn’t feel they had received support were more likely to state that they would leave the agency.

In addition to these four themes, all of the teachers discussed if they viewed their position as a job or a profession. As it turns out, preschool teachers in the Head Start program very much see their position as a career, albeit with some hurdles to overcome. However, they want to stay in early childcare, especially with disadvantaged children, like those in Head Start, for their whole career.

This means that if teachers leave, it’s because their needs aren’t being met, not because they didn’t want to be in this particular field. Therefore each agency should look at what needs the teachers require and then try to satisfy those needs in order to retain valuable qualified competent preschool teachers.

In this case, making sure they are paired up with leads/assistants that they communicate and get along with well, provide teachers time to complete their paperwork, reconsidering child behavior problems, and providing enough support to teachers who request it, taking their requests seriously and providing valuable, applicable feedback to their issues.

Presenting at the 39th Annual National Head Start Association Conference: Enhancing Program Quality

I was working for a Head Start organization at the time of the 39th Annual National Head Start Association Conference in Quality Assurance. One of my job duties was to research problems within the organization and provide feedback on how to correct those problems so that the program would be of higher quality. My boss and I quickly realized that communication between our centers was a problem, since we were completely spread out over 11 locations and two counties within a major metropolitan city.

Trying to drive to all the centers wasted too much time. Conference calls were hard to coordinate and even if everyone could be on the conference call, many of them felt it hard to participate since they couldn’t see the presentations and sometimes had difficulty hearing. Plus we were in the field (i.e. at preschools) a lot and needed to update data on-site in real time.

We (my boss and I) developed a talk that helped to correct these issues, presenting a talk entitled Enhancing Program Quality: Using Technology to Assess Data and Communicate Efficiently. 

We discussed various technology tools that helped made our lives easier, figuring that other agencies may be running into a similar predicament.

We started simple, discussing Google (and Google for Non-profits).

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Some of the Google products we discussed were the Google Calendar, Google Documents (now called Google Drive), and Blogger (while simultaneously showing WordPress).

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When we used our calendars at work, we realized that we had to be on a work computer in order to update and to check them. This was nearly impossible though if we were out in the field visiting a preschool. So Google Calendar was a great solution. Since many people have smart phones today, we could easily log on using our smart phones and update the calendar as to where we are and what we’re doing, as well as see what other colleagues are doing so we know how to reach them. Everything can be color coded as well, so if you want to put different people in different colors, have a particular color for meetings or specific school locations or vacations–it’s all possible and is rather intuitive.

Google Drive is a place where you can go and upload documents. This was extremely important for us, because it allows the users to update data in real time. Moreover, you can check to see who the last person was who updated data and when they did that, so it was easy to determine how new/relevant/complete the data was. Moreover  it’s secure, as a password is required in order to log in and the person running the drive can determine who has access to the drive (and can add or remove people whenever they choose to do so).

Then we described how using blogs (through Blogger or WordPress) could be beneficial for the agency to self-promote itself to the parents, teachers, and the world about the great work that they’re doing. We also described how we used it as another medium, much like Facebook or Twitter, to inform parents about school closings or delays.

In addition to Google products, we also introduced the audience to Ustream, which is like Youtube, except that you can record for however many minutes you need to (while Youtube limits you to under 15 minutes of recording time per clip). We used this in trainings, so that if someone missed a training, it would be recorded live and they could go back and view it whenever they wanted. However, we also used it on conference calls, so people that were in another location could see us live, as we presented the material and therefore be more of a participant. This is tremendous, because now audience members could participate with us, watching us actually give the presentation rather than just hearing it on the phone. Naturally we had to grant them access, but that is easy to do once you read a little about Ustream and how it works.

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We also realized that with conference calls, people often felt leftout. That they weren’t getting the same experience as being in the room, and let’s be honest, often did other tasks (i.e. playing with email) while on the conference call. Well now we had a solution. Since our centers were so spread out and not everyone could make it to the meeting place, we actually saved the company money (in not having to pay for people to waste gas), while saving the employees time (on not having to commute back and forth and therefore stay at their center in case they were urgently needed), while making them feel like a participant by introducing them to join me. Join.me is a free site that allows you to do two things: screen share and conference call. So by signing up, they send you a “phone number” that you then pass along to anyone that you want to join the meeting (i.e. email the phone number to the participants). Then they click on the link and they are a part of join me, where you can talk to them and they can see your screen–so as you move through your presentation, they can follow along, seeing all the visuals, and hearing everything you (and others) say during the conference call.

Screen Shot 2013-02-03 at 7.00.25 PMAll of these products discussed are free! All saved time, money, and resources! It’s worth looking into to see if they meet the needs of your agency.

Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS): Interventions for Academic Achievement

Bridget K. Hamre (hamre@virginia.edu) at the University of Virginia presented at the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Conference a PowerPoint that lays out what the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) can do: namely, assess the classroom quality, while pairing that up with academic achievement for adolescents in high school. She has also given an interview with ScienceWatch on her thoughts on CLASS and on early childhood social science research in general.

Hamre’s PowerPoint provides a lot of nice background information on the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) including topics like CLASS’ scope and alignment, what is CLASS?, CLASS versions, What does CLASS measure?, What are the domains and dimensions of CLASS?, Standardizing CLASS, CLASS Training, Reliability and Validity of CLASS, data on CLASS, alignment with professional development, and an academic intervention using CLASS-S.

For other blogs on the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS): click here to read a synopsis on CLASS and other early childhood assessment tools, click here to see the breakdown of the CLASS content (the domains and dimensions), click here to read about CLASS and how to implement it, or click here to find research that has been published using CLASS as an assessment tool.

Head Start Data Collection: Writing Anecdotals

Collecting data on the child’s growth and development is important. It’s required by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), for accreditation purposes, for individualization, and for the performance of the (Head Start) program.

At the 2010 National Head Start Association Conference, Kathy Freismuth and I presented on data collection and focused specifically on writing anecdotals. See the attached PowerPoint for more details on writing quality anecdotals and forms that could be used to better inform employees about writing quality anecdotals.

There are lots of different forms of documentation:

  • Portfolios
  • Growth and Development Books
  • Journals
  • Checklists
  • Running Records
  • Tallies
  • Photographs
  • Audio/Video
  • Rating Scales
  • Matrices
  • Work Samples
  • Written Anecdotals

Objectivity is crucial when writing anecdotals. Writing exactly what that child does–describing only the behavior. Ask the child open-ended questions to better understand what they are working on and so they can explain in their own words.

A Good Observation involves the following:

  • Objective/Factual Language
  • Write only what you see/hear
  • Complete at “point of service”–when the activity happens
  • Observe a skill over a period of time–this is important to see the growth and development of the child
  • Observe the child in different settings–this is important because if you always watch the child completing one activity, you will only know how they perform at that activity (i.e. all anecdotals written at block area tells you little about how the child draws/paints/socializes/eats/plays/etc).

What Makes Head Start Parents Involved in Head Start?

In 2010 I conducted a study on Head Start parents in order to see why they were or weren’t involved in the Head Start classrooms or at Head Start parent group meetings.

I randomly chose 4 Head Start preschools and handed out a Parent Involvement Questionnaire (and also had the questionnaire inSpanish) to the parents as they dropped off their children. Over a week period, I managed to collect 239 questionnaires from parents (they appreciated that the questionnaire only took about 5 minutes to complete, since they are often rushing to drop their child off and head to work in the mornings). Click Here to see the PowerPoint that was presented at the National Head Start Association Conference in 2010.

Most of the parent’s filling out the survey were mothers, and about 50% were African American, 25% White and 22% Hispanic. Most parents were between 26-30 or 31 and over. Parents were likely to visit the classrooms and to receive fliers from teachers on upcoming parent involvement activities, like parent school days and parent group meetings. Parents also admitted that the teachers did encourage them to come into the classroom.

Parents however expressed barriers to participating in the classroom at Head Start such as having a busy schedule and work/school conflicts. Parents stated that they would be more likely to participate in the classroom if they were instructed what to do when in the classroom, if they could complete a project that they were knowledgeable about, and if teachers encouraged and praised parents often about their participation.

Parents stated that they would be more likely to attend parent group meetings at Head Start if the parent group meetings met on different days and times, if their children presented their work (i.e. art projects, singing, ‘prom’ nights).

Head Start Preschool Teachers: Jobs or Professions

Head Start Preschool Teachers: Jobs vs. Professions

Head Start preschool teachers defined a profession as a place where you go to earn money, but that you enjoy what you are doing, while defining a job as just a place to go where you earn money.

When asked if Head Start preschool teachers saw their positions as a job or a profession, many of the teachers, both lead and assistant, stated that they viewed their position as a profession.

Some preschool teachers stated that they had days where they viewed their position as a job and other days where they viewed it as a profession. In other words, keeping preschool teachers happy by supporting them, asking about their needs, and trying to fulfill those needs should help to retain preschool teachers.

Preliminary Analysis: Preschool Teachers Need Support


Head Start preschool teachers felt like they lack administrative support. Namely, they lack support from their immediate supervisor, the Center Director. Nearly all preschool teachers interviewed from the ten centers stated that they could use more support from their Center Directors. Many preschool teachers stated that they had only seen their Center Director in passing, the Center Director stopping by for a quick ‘hello’, and some stated that they had never spoken with their Center Director.

When preschool teachers did see the Center Director for any length of time, most of the preschool teachers stated this was because the Center Director had come into their classroom to conduct an observational assessment. Preschool teachers would like their Center Director to mentor/coach/advise them on a routine basis, as opposed to simply monitoring/observing them and then leaving the classroom. Most of the Classroom Assistants stated if the Center Director did talk to a teacher, they spoke with only the Lead Teacher, the Family Child Educator, and neglected speaking with the Classroom Assistant.

Preschool teachers emphasized that they didn’t receive quality support from people from administration. Preschool teachers stated that the education specialists visited their rooms the most, followed by the resource specialists (special needs team). However, they stated that the education specialist either just observed or they reviewed the classroom set-up and portfolios and then spoke with the teachers about those issues. All of the preschool teachers stated that they had not received any feedback regarding their curriculum/lesson plan and how it pertains to the Reggio-Emilia philosophy that was employed at the beginning of the school year. Preschool teachers stated that they are basing their lesson plans off of their one week of training or other trainings that they have received from non-Head Start staff. Most of the preschool teachers stated that they had no idea how to exactly implement Reggio, since no one, including education specialists and Center Directors had informed them beyond the 1 week of training prior to the school year starting. Many of the preschool teachers also stated that the resource specialists only monitored if children with individualized education plans (IEPs) had their goals on the Lesson Plans. They also stated that the resource specialists mainly only asked them if they needed any support. Most of the preschool teachers stated that although the resource specialists were friendly and offered help, they didn’t fully know if they were executing the IEPs correctly. Preschool teachers further emphasized that they did not receive enough behavioral management support.

Preschool teachers stated that if they felt close to their Center Director and felt supported by other administrative departments, they would be more likely to stay working for the company. However, at present, teachers are saying that they are not supported to the extent that they would like to be.