June 28, 2021

Implementing the Teaching Pyramid Through a Pandemic


By Lizelle Wulff  & Valerie Kelly


Early last year, we got to learn how the Teaching Pyramid is implemented at our centers. The Teaching Pyramid is a systematic framework developed by CSEFEL that incorporates Early Childhood Positive Behavior Support (EC-PBS) through promoting social-emotional development, providing support for children’s appropriate behavior, preventing challenging behavior, and addressing problematic behavior. For our staff in the Oxnard region, the Teaching Pyramid has been a cornerstone of groundbreaking success as a teaching module in our centers. We recently presented in a statewide Teaching Pyramid Partner Site Webinar about how staff used Teaching Pyramid strategies through Distance Learning. 

Catalyst Kids’ success story focuses on how the staff used Teaching Pyramid to support children and families during the COVID pandemic, specifically through Distance Connections.  When lockdown happened throughout the state, our agency leadership was determined to stay open to continue to provide responsive services to our communities, families, and children, especially essential workers who desperately needed a safe place for their children as they served in our communities.  We incorporated various Teaching Pyramid strategies while meeting with children virtually.    

During the first Zoom sessions, teachers used an emotion visual for a feelings check-in to start the session.  Then, teachers also provided the children and families with materials to create visuals for emotions that they would like to represent. 

Later on, the teachers modeled how to do feelings check-ins by drawing their emotions on a whiteboard and explaining why they feel that way.  The teachers made sure to explain to the children how feelings change and that they can feel multiple emotions at the same time.  It was important to the teachers that the children’s feelings are acknowledged, even virtually.  Another strategy that was very successful was providing families with the Great Expectations Book.

This resource helped children and families to discuss the expectations at home and within the community, especially during a pandemic.   

Conversations with families helped us reflect and plan for intentionally incorporating more Teaching Pyramid strategies and resources into Distance Learning activities both for the group and for individual families.   

Our commitment to implementing Teaching Pyramid strategies, both virtually and physically, has provided staff, children, and families with many benefits. We’ve served many children through Distance Learning since 2020, and now the same children are starting to transition back into in-person learning.  Staff are noticing how children and families are more in tune with these strategies.  The children we served through Distance Learning use the Teaching Pyramid vocabulary and “language” now inside the physical classroom.  This made it a smoother transition for children into the in-person program.