These tools articulate the key teaching and caregiving competencies that result in high-quality learning experiences for young children. The tools are designed for specialists (an early childhood professional who provides coaching, mentoring and/or training, to support practitioners and other professionals in continuous quality improvement efforts) to document teachers’ demonstration of each competency through classroom observation and to use the data to set professional development goals with their teaching staff. They can also be used by teachers directly to self-assess their skills, set goals for improvement, and track their progress over time. CLI now includes these tools for two age groups: Infant & Toddler and Prekindergarten!
This version includes high-quality caregiving and instructional behaviors that support language and communication, early literacy, cognitive skills, social and emotional development, and physical development for infants and toddlers. Teachers can work toward the implementation of these behaviors with the support of the CIRCLE Infant & Toddler Teacher Training: Play with Me professional development series (free for all teachers). Paper-pencil versions are accessible below. The online version includes the Infant & Toddler Competency Observation Tool (COT) with extensive goal-setting features. The Infant & Toddler COT is available for organizations that meet TSR Online eligibility requirements, or who purchase access through the CLI Solutions Group.
The Observation and Notetaking Form is best used by coaches and specialists when conducting observations as it provides space to record specific evidence that can be used in communications with the teacher. The Goal-Setting Form can be used by coaches, specialists, and teachers and includes columns to record when goals are set and met.
This guide is for coaches and specialists who would like step-by-step guidance to using the tool in continuous improvement cycles with teachers.
The prekindergarten tool is a key component of the research-proven Texas School Ready project, a comprehensive professional development program for preschool teachers. The online system includes a built-in goal-setting system that allows teachers to work toward specific short-term goals and track their progress. The system is well-aligned with the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines and can be used by teachers, school leaders, and intervention specialists to promote effective teaching.
Click below to access the COT overview public course. The course can be viewed online through the CLI Engage website (no login required!)
|In the course, you will learn…
Uses intentional and efficient methods for transitioning from one activity to the next (e.g., song to clean up, phonological awareness game to transition to centers, etc.).
Uses specific praise, encouragement, or positive feedback that provides children explicit information regarding what they are doing well (e.g., “You did a great job writing your name.”...).*
Talks about or encourages children to use theme-related materials in centers (e.g., activities based on
curriculum/theme). This can be done before going to centers and/or during center time.
Explains function/cause and effect (e.g., “A blender cuts things up very, very tiny.” or “When you turn on a blender, the blades chop things up very finely.”)...
Provides a child-friendly definition that explains the meaning of vocabulary words (e.g., "Tangled means it is all knotted and twisted up.").
Asks higher level, open-ended, thinking questions (analysis or thinking required, “why,” “how,” compare, link, explain, etc.).
BEFORE READING: Gives a purpose for listening to the story (“As I read, I want you to think about/listen for…”).
DURING READING: Gives child-friendly explanation of vocabulary words in text (e.g., “Dangerous means not safe.”).
AFTER READING: Asks higher level, thinking questions (analysis or thinking required, “why,” “how,” compare, link, explain, etc.).
Onset and Rime – Blends/segments/manipulates words between the consonant(s) and the rest of the word, with or without picture support...
Talks about and/or engages children in using manipulatives (e.g., rhyming basket, etc...) when engaged in phonological awareness activities.
Talks about punctuation (period, question mark, exclamation mark, quotation marks, comma) during writing activities.
Takes dictation (e.g., negotiating a message or writing exactly what was said) from a single child about their individual drawing/writing/ideas.
CORE CONCEPTS - "The What": Counting Skills - Talks about, encourages, or models counting in sequence (e.g., rote counting).
CORE CONCEPTS - "The What": Involves children in math transition activities (e.g., "If you have 3 buttons on your clothes, go line up.").
CONTEXTS - "The When/Where": Geometry and Spatial Sense Skills - Talks about, encourages, or models naming, creating, or manipulating common shapes (e.g., square, round, sides, angles, etc.).
Talks about letter features (e.g., stick letters/round letters; upper- and lower-case, sky-writing ‘T’, write a letter in isolation).
Uses the letter wall as an interactive teaching tool to emphasize features of print (e.g., play letter wall games, letter wall transitions, during journal writing).
Researchers at CLI examined psychometric characteristics of the COT in a study of 193 coaches working with 3,909 preK teachers in a statewide professional development program. Included below are some key findings:
Survey Responses: 88.96% of coaches felt that the COT was helpful or very helpful for establishing goals with teachers, and 76.60% felt the technology-based, goal-setting and tracking system was helpful or very helpful for improving teacher implementation of evidence-based practices.
Reliability: We found evidence of acceptable internal consistency with alphas ranging from .73 to .87. Consistency in our subdomain and domain structure suggests that, even across our relatively large number of items, coaches are able to make meaningful distinctions among closely linked domains of instruction and, by extension, set highly targeted goals for improvement.
Construct Validity: We found promising evidence of construct validity for the COT in that the factor structure for eight domains across language, literacy, and math instruction conformed to our theoretical conceptions.
Predictive Validity: We found promising evidence that several COT language and literacy domains relate significantly to growth in children’s literacy outcomes for letter knowledge in English (.21–.43) and Spanish (.32–.40), as well as phonological awareness in English (.18 –.36). This demonstrates predictive validity between theoretically related teacher behaviors and child skills.