Educare Milwaukee Teachers Nurture a Culture of Collaboration During COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge in-person early childhood education, the teaching staff at Educare Milwaukee are taking a collaborative approach to virtual instruction support. While the high-quality education provided by the school remains at the forefront, staff have been intentional about addressing the challenges that come with virtual learning for staff, children and their families.

“Teachers are doing something different now, so they need a new space and outlet to share resources and come together,” says Education Manager, Sandy Gadzichowski. In order to address the challenges posed by this new model, instructional leaders formed reflective groups (or “communites of practice”) specifically to create space for teachers teaching virtually to share effective strategies and challenges they are facing. Since October, these groups have met regularly, partnering with other departments and organizational leadership to optimize virtual learning supports.

One group recently created 6 new strategies with an action plan to help increase child attendance, engagement and communication in the virtual space. One strategy implements socialization activities that support peer interaction such as group lunches, guest speakers and dance parties. Another focuses on increasing parent/guardian awareness on the impact of attendance and includes sending home STAR postcards, letters to families and distributing yard signs for children with 80% attendance. The development of the strategies alone has taken a weight off the shoulders of the virtual teachers and made them feel more optimistic and supported in the virtual space.

Teachers feel encouraged by the support they are receiving from the collaborative approach of the virtual teacher community of practice. The organization hopes to continue using virtual engagement strategies in the future, even after all children and families can return to traditional in-person care and learning.

Interested in learning more about incorporating reflective practice at your school? The Essential Practices of Educare professional development series delivers proven strategies for elevating the quality of early education in your school, center or community.