LENA strives every day to support teachers and families as they care for and nourish children during the most important years of development. We know it’s important to understand their experiences and design programs that work for them. Over the past few years, one of our strategic goals has been to hone our listening skills. In pursuit of this goal, we have learned a lot from Listen4Good and Equity Meets Design. We’ve used surveys, Community Conversations, partner check-ins, and interviews to stay in touch with the people doing LENA programs in their communities. This has been especially important amidst the uncertainty of a pandemic, allowing us to support our partners as they pivoted to virtual delivery models and supported teachers and families through difficulties.
So, when we decided it was time to make some improvements to LENA Grow to be released in the summer of 2022, we knew we had to not only listen but to involve partners, coaches, and teachers in the change process.
Here are a few innovation pilots we have under way with partners:
- Coach Gina Kohler of the Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando Counties is testing the use of LENA Developmental Snapshot to build a school-home connection in child care.
- Coaches Janet Yang and Linda Tazi of Virginia Child Development Resources and Coach Sarah Frenzel of Arapahoe Early Childhood Council (Colo.) are trying out a new report that seeks to further increase equity for children experiencing the least amount of talk, while also making LENA data easier to understand.
- We’re crowdsourcing videos to build out our library of Talking Tips videos.
We are also fortunate to have the time and brain power of individuals from across the U.S. with tons of early childhood experience and expertise. From our partners, we’ve selected 12 LENA Grow Advisors. They represent a wide range of roles, from teachers and Family Child Care providers to coaches and program leadership. We’d like to take the opportunity to shout them out and share what we’ve learned from them!
Thank you to the LENA Grow Advisors!
|Julie W. Foster
Assistant Principal at B. D. Lee Elementary School in South Carolina
EHS Social Emotional Learning Coach at Porter-Leath in Tennessee
Technical Assistance Coordinator at the Virginia IT Specialist Network, Child Development Resources
Early Learning Quality Initiatives Manager at ChildCare Group in Dallas, Texas
Deputy Assistant Superintendent of Early Childhood Strategy at the Louisiana Department of Education
Program Officer of Education at the Heising-Simons Foundation
Teacher at Beacon Community Development Center in Georgia
Early Childhood Education Lead at The Primary School in northern California
2yo Teacher at Greenbrier Preschool in Evans, Georgia
|Brigitte Y. Willis
A Better Day Christian Learning Center in Georgia (Brigitte also serves as the GAEYC Membership Chair and PFCCAG Membership Chair)
Director of Williamsburg Campus Child Care in Virginia
Training and TA Specialistic at the Early Learning Coalition of Escambia County in Florida
Based on their input, here are a few things we’re leaning into with the upcoming LENA Grow updates:
- Family Engagement: Families love LENA data and teachers want families to have better access to information about early talk. Various delivery modes are needed to fit existing family engagement approaches (paper, electronic, links).
- Equity: Using LENA data and coaching to increase equity for children means focusing on the distribution of conversational turns across children and throughout the day. There are a number of specific strategies teachers use to increase turns for specific children, and LENA data in turn lets teachers track the impact of these strategies in real time.
- Workforce Development: Good coaching takes time, but coverage is a challenge. Setting the clear expectation of a 30-minute coaching session benefits teachers and promotes professionalization.
- Fidelity of Implementation: Center directors are an important partner in ensuring a successful program implementation. Involving them from the start with clear expectations for their involvement will help ensure program impact.