DEAR MISS MATTERS OF CLASS:
Is it appropriate to observe during meal times and transitions (i.e., washing hands after using the bathroom, lining up to go outside, etc)? It just doesn’t seem like there’s much going on during those times.
A most excellent question! And, one that many other observers like you have pondered. These times are indeed observable using the CLASS tool. Recall that one of the goals of CLASS data collection is to capture the experience of an average child in a classroom on a typical day. Since meals and transitions are activities in which children engage on a daily basis, they can and should be observed. Capturing these times helps us paint a full and complete picture of the classroom and the experiences of the children within it.
While meal times and transitions are different types of activities than, say, circle time or small group time, due to the fact that they are a bit more routine in nature, they can still be characterized by the same types of effective interactions.
For instance, let’s imagine a scenario where a preschool class is getting ready to go play outside on a winter day.
As the scenario above demonstrates, transitions can be chock-full of effective CLASS interactions. In fact, every Pre-K dimension, save Negative Climate, is represented in the picture we painted above at least once, if not twice! Although not every real-life observation period featuring mealtime or a transition matches this one, there are certainly some that rival it or even surpass it in terms of effectiveness.
Remember to carefully evaluate the presence and absence of each indicator within each dimension for all activities, even routine ones—sometimes, you might be surprised at what you’ll find.
Are you a teacher who recently had a CLASS observer come to your classroom? Maybe the observer mentioned something about giving you your CLASS scores—or maybe you aren’t sure when or how you’ll get feedback from the observation. If that recently happened to you, you might have typed something into Google like, “What are CLASS scores?” Not to fear. I hope this blog post clears it up for you!
As an infant classroom teacher, you know that talking to babies is important. For instance, you tell the infants in your care what they are looking at (“You see the new block basket on the shelf!”). You label objects (“You have the red ball!”). And you describe events that take place in the classroom (“The tray just fell off the table! That scared you.”). These examples represent Teacher talk, an indicator in the Infant CLASS tool. Why, then, is the dimension of Early Language Support so challenging?
Note: It’s the start of another new school year and once again, my thoughts turn to all of the children who are starting school for the first time. But I also can’t help but think about those children who are making the big transition from preschool to kindergarten. As we all know, it can be a big adjustment for many kids.
Last year I wrote a post about my great-niece’s first day of preschool. For those of you who may have missed it, we are posting it again with a post-script of sorts (except that it’s at the beginning and not the end). I am happy to report that my concerns about her adjustment to preschool were not realized. Addison had a good year in pre-k and learned so many of those critical social-emotional skills that put her in good stead to make the most of kindergarten. Here is a picture of her on her first day at “the big school” – still ready for school and raring to go!