Self-regulation has been clearly implicated in every aspect of a person’s long-term wellbeing, and its early development lays a foundation for physical and mental health, relationships, academic achievement and socioeconomic success. The development of self-regulation is influenced by a combination of individual and external factors including temperament, skills, caregiver support, and environmental context. It can be derailed by extreme stress and adversity, but it can also be strengthened and taught. In 2017-18 and 2018-19, with funding from the Institute of Education Sciences, we provided training to 54 classrooms in Guilford County to promote the implementation of two of the Incredible Years Series of Programs: Incredible Years Teacher Classroom Management and Incredible Years Dinosaur School. Preliminary results from this cluster randomized trial showed positive effects on two aspects of self-regulation: social-emotional skills and executive functioning.
This funding from the Duke Endowment supports ongoing implementation of these programs to benefit future cohorts of preschoolers by extending coaching and teacher support to anchor in the skills that teachers have learned and motivate them to continue regular deliver of Dinosaur School Lessons. Coaching entails once to twice a month visits during which trained coaches observe, model, and support teachers in Dinosaur School implementation. These visits will be augmented with Quarterly Best Practice Meetings with all trained teachers and assistants to share successes, challenges, and concrete suggestions for strategies and activities. Review, planning and preparation of future Dinosaur School lessons will be a part of these meetings as well. Peer Learning Communities will be encouraged and led by coaches. Depending on the results of this year’s evaluation, a second year of funding will support a Teacher Leadership Development Program for teachers who have been or wish to be certified in Dinosaur School. This program will support teachers in this track to begin mentoring others in ongoing implementation, leading quarterly meetings, and Peer Learning Community conversations, thus spearheading sustainability when this project comes to an end.