Avoiding Bumps Along the Way by Debra Pierce

The Verification Visit with the PD Specialist has a specific structure. You must bring your Professional Portfolio and the Competency Standards book to the Verification Visit. The pages in the back of the book will be used during for the Observation, the Review of the documentation, and the Reflective Dialogue.

The PD Specialist will look over your documentation, verifying the CDA training and the contents of the Profession Portfolio. The PD Specialist will be using p. 20 of the Comprehensive Scoring Instrument (at the back of the Competency Standards book) to record evidence from the Professional Portfolio. This would include verifying your CDA training, the number of Family Questionnaires collected, the Resource Collection, the six Competency Statements, and the professional Philosophy Statement.

There are two parts of your documentation that are extremely important and if they are incomplete, inaccurate, or missing, your CDA will be put on hold until it is corrected.

These two include:

1. The CDA training hours. If there are not enough hours accounted for (and the candidate has not    received a waiver) or the training is not from an   accepted source (See the section in the Competency Standards book that describes “Acceptable Professional Education”).

2. The first aid/CPR certification. This certification must be the type the Council requires (infant/child “pediatric” CPR) and it must not be expired.

The PD Specialist will wait until the end of your Verification Visit to tell you if either of these two problems exist and explain that the Council will be sending a postcard with the required procedures in order to continue your CDA process. This must be completed within 6 months of the date you received the “Ready to Schedule” notice. If not, your CDA will be forfeited.

Are There Any Other Issues That Can Put the Brakes On My CDA?

Yes, there are. One of them can happen early on in the process. If you are working in a child care program, you will need to decide on a CDA setting endorsement. This would be either infant/toddler or preschool. You will indicate this choice when ordering your Competency Standards book from the Council for Professional Recognition.

That book will be tailored to earning a CDA for that specific endorsement, including your Resource Collection, your Competency Statements, your Professional Philosophy Statement, the Observation, and Verification Visit.

Be sure to let the center-director know you have made this choice. It is critical that your classroom placement and the endorsement you choose match and stay the same until after your Observation and Verification Visit.

If your classroom is changed, you may not have the same age group as before, which would mean the materials ordered from the Council would not be valid for this new classroom. You would need to purchase another Competency Standards book for your current setting and classroom.

If you are a “floater” in your child care program, you will need to be proactive, as well. Moving around from one classroom and age group to another will simply not work when earning a CDA.

Furthermore, you and the children in that room need to get to know each other well and you need to be very familiar with the routines and environment, so you can act as lead teacher on the day of your Observation. The parents of the children must know you well enough to complete the Family Questionnaires.

Tell your director that if she wants you to earn your CDA, she will have to support you with this. If you aren’t getting the cooperation of the management in maintaining a particular setting through your CDA process, you may need to find another place to work that will.

As you work on your CDA, remember there is     support and help. Getting started is often the hardest part… just knowing where to begin. Staying         organized is the key and having some step-by-step help doesn’t hurt, either! Check out the new CDA Prep Workbook and pre-assembled binders on my website.

Your stress will be gone in no time. I promise!

Visit my website at easycda.com

Stressed-Out Kids, Parents, Teachers: How to Cope

By Rae Pica

Not all stress is to be avoided. According to our guests there are three different types of stress: positive stress, tolerable stress, and toxic stress.  Teachers need to be able to distinguish the different types and the symptoms of stress in children to help them manage stress effectively.  

One proven way to help children manage their stress is to teach them to handle challenges on their own – so they feel a sense of control! My guests offer suggestions for doing just that. 

To Read

Ellen Galinsky’s piece, “Helping Children to Learn to Take on Challenges”: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ellen-galinsky/heidelise-als-neo-natal-care_b_923804.html

Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs (includes a chapter on helping children learn to take on challenges): http://www.amazon.com/Mind-Making-Seven-Essential-Skills/dp/006173232X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1316109729&sr=1-1

To Watch

Professor Carol Dweck explains research which shows how important it is for learners to link success with their effort: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICILzbB1Obg

Megan Gunnar, “How We React to Challenge”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFgjvGwCruU

To Play

This simple game challenges children to test their skills. But because the risk is minimal and they can choose how and when they want to increase the challenge, the children feel a sense of control.

The Tightrope

Place several long jump ropes in straight lines on the floor or ground. Then invite the children to pretend they’re walking the tightrope like acrobats in the circus. Once the children are comfortable walking in a forward direction, invite them to try to walk sideways in both directions and, finally, backward.

The next step is for the children to try different locomotor skills. You can either assign different skills – such as tiptoeing, galloping, and hopping – or add a problem-solving element to the activity. For example, challenge them to find three different ways to move across the tightrope in a forward direction.

Adapted from Great Games for Young Children by Rae Pica (Silver Spring, MD: Gryphon House, 2006)



Teaching Beyond the Test

By Rae Pica

In an era of high-stakes accountability and standardized testing, is there room for teaching beyond the test? You bet, say our guests, and here's how to do it without losing your job.

According to my guests, here’s what the research shows about teaching to the test:

·         Classes heavily focused on test prep are not necessarily associated with higher test scores.

·         Creative, in-depth teaching is more likely to generate increases in test scores.

·         Teachers don’t necessarily find that their creativity is affected by tests if they weren’t afraid of them – if they used tests for their own purposes rather than be run by them.


·         Project-Based Inquiry Units for Young Children: First Steps to Research for Grades Pre-K-2 by Colleen MacDonnell

·         Integrating Differentiated Instruction & Understanding by Design: Connecting Content and Kids by Carol A. Tomlinson

·         : Differentiated Project-Based Learning in a Standards-Based Age, Grades 6 & Up by Phil Schlemmer and Dori Schlemmer

·         Classroom Testing and Assessment for ALL Students: Beyond Standardization by Spencer J. Salend

Other Resources

·         “Highly rated instructors go beyond teaching to the standardized test: Some Southern California teachers are finding ways to keep creativity in the lesson plan even as they prepare their students for standardized tests”: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jul/11/local/la-me-test-prep-20110711

·         An example of teachers banding together: Testing Is Not Teaching: http://www.facebook.com/testingisnotteaching

·         Opt Out of Standardized Tests – The International Movement: http://optoutofstandardizedtests.wikispaces.com/