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Bringing Play Back to Kindergarten Classrooms – Meet Steve Oates, 2016 Leader to Learn From

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Published on Feb 24, 2016

Steve Oates, a veteran teacher of 1st-graders, has been leading an initiative to bring play back to kindergarten classrooms in North Carolina’s Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school district.

The effort to make the district’s early-learning environments more engaging for children and hence, more effective for their learning, is at the heart of Oates’ work overseeing 45 elementary schools and their principals in the 54,000-student school system. And the district’s pursuit of more play-based learning has taken place at a time when many districts and early-childhood centers have shifted to more structured, academic environments.

Despite his heavy load of responsibilities, Oates logs lots of hours in the schools he oversees, meeting with principals and teachers and checking in personally to ensure that the blocks and dress-up clothes in kindergarten classrooms are in heavy use.

“If I walk into 10 kinder[garten] classroom[s], and at least seven or eight of them [are focused on play], I could say, ‘We’re on the right track,’ ” Oates says of where he hopes to bring his district’s classrooms.

This video was produced as part of Education Week’s Leaders to Learn From project, recognizing outstanding school district leaders from around the country. More at http://leaders.edweek.org ____________________

Want more stories about schools across the nation, including the latest news and unique perspectives on education issues? Visit www.edweek.org.

About Education Week:
Education Week is America’s most trusted source of independent K-12 education news, analysis, and opinion. Our work serves to raise the level of understanding and discourse about education among school and district leaders, policymakers, researchers, teachers, and the public. Published by the nonprofit organization Editorial Projects in Education, Education Week has been providing award-winning coverage of the field for over 35 years.

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