Start-of-School Survival Kit for Teachers

The start of a new school year is a busy time for children and teachers! The National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning NCQTL is pleased to offer this survival kit. Head Start teachers and other program staff can use the resources below to support their work with children and families all year long. Start exploring on your own and share them with colleagues.

Back-to-School Resources

Use these materials as a quick reminder of successful classroom practices to get you started this school year:

Schedules and Routines
Watch this four-minute video for tips on creating classroom schedules and routines. Learn how these practices promote childrens learning.

Visual Reminders of Classroom Expectations
Learn how printable visual cues for teaching children about behavior expectations, including a voice volume chart for the classroom, can promote positive behavior.

Tips for Teachers: Designing Environments
Use this one-page tip sheet for ideas on designing the classroom environment. Learn how the environment affects childrens learning and what you can do enhance it.

Tips for Teachers: Develop a Sense of Teamwork
Discover key practices to  build a strong teaching team. This resource lists ideas for providing feedback, sharing information, and more.

Get Ready for Kindergarten! Activity Calendar for Teachers
This year-long calendar focuses on childrens transitions to kindergarten. Find monthly activities that support smooth transitions for children and families.

Explore more NCQTL resources that highlight evidence-based teaching practices on the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center ECLKC:

Send your questions to or call toll-free 1-877-731-0764.


Quick In-Class Evaluation Captures Vital Signs of Teaching


A new study shows that a 20-minute classroom assessment can reliably measure classroom instruction and predict students’ standardized test scores. The assessment also provides immediate and meaningful feedback—making it an important new tool for understanding and improving instructional quality, according to researchers at UNC’s Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute FPG and the University of Rochester.

The EAR Protocol—short for Engagement, Alignment, and Rigor—already has been used in more than 100 schools, but this current study is the first to test its objectivity and ability to predict student learning as measured by standardized tests. Developed by the Institute for Research and Reform in Education, the 15-item tool focuses on three aspects of instruction: the engagement of students, how closely schoolwork aligns with state and local standards, and whether coursework is appropriately challenging.

“The assessment captures surprisingly complex and fundamental qualities of teaching,” said Diane Early, a scientist at FPG. “It’s easy to use, and 20 minutes is short enough for administrators to fit into the confines of their busy workday. And it’s adaptable for all grades and subjects, from math and English to art and physical education.”

Source: FPG Child Development Institute

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Impact Findings from the Head Start CARES Demonstration: National Evaluation of Three Approaches to Improving Preschoolers’ Social and Emotional Competence


Head Start CARES Classroom-based Approaches and Resources for Emotion and Social skill Promotion is a national demonstration that tests the effectiveness of three program enhancements designed to improve preschool childrens social-emotional competence. The project also examines the support systems e.g., professional development model, technical assistance, monitoring that are needed to implement the enhancements as designed within diverse Head Start classrooms across the country. This report describes impacts of the CARES demonstration, focusing on outcomes during the spring of the preschool year in: 1 teacher practices; 2 classroom climate; 3 children’s behavior regulation, executive function, emotion knowledge, and social problem-solving skills; and 4 children’s learning behaviors and social behaviors. The report also explores possible impacts on pre-academic skills during preschool and social-emotional and academic outcomes during the Kindergarten year. All three enhancements had positive impacts on teacher practice and on children’s social-emotional outcomes during the preschool year, although in varying degrees and not necessarily in the expected ways.

Source: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Available at: