From the time Anne played school with her dolls (Mary Ann and Peggy Sue—can you name the era?), she knew she loved teaching and learning, and is thrilled to experience both in her positions with Teachstone. A Head Start teacher in the original MyTeachingPartner study and now an MTP Coach/Specialist and a CLASS trainer, Anne identifies with and appreciates those learning about and improving their practice with the CLASS tool. She is inspired by the opportunities to continually witness its tremendous impact on young children and their teachers.
I could sit for hours watching a group of young children play. And I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to do so as an observer in toddler and pre-K classrooms around the country. The freedom with which children explore and use materials, test and experiment, and practice new strategies is fascinating and educational to watch.
Many pre-K teachers adhere to the theory that free-choice or center time should be a time for children to be in control. They see center time as a time for students choose what they play with, how they manipulate the materials, and when to stop. These educators believe that children’s decisions and independence should be respected, so it’s their job to be present only as a support when needed.
But, there's another common theory. Other teachers believe that they should and must be present to facilitate, scaffold, and teach as children play. These two differing viewpoints raise a great question:
While spending time doing CLASS observations around the country, I am particularly interested in how programs, directors, and teachers interpret the Regard for Student Perspectives dimension, with particular attention to the restriction of movement indicator. What does restricting movement have to do with showing regard for a child’s perspective? Wouldn’t it fit better with Behavior Management? And how does “allows movement” and “is not rigid” play out in the classroom without wreaking havoc and creating chaos?
Teachers, what is your reaction when someone talks to you about using CLASS? Do you cringe, thinking of a numerical score? Do you feel overhwlemed, trying to imagine yet another new thing for you to learn about and do in the classroom?
Teachers are amazing planners! They know how to take ideas and turn them into engaging and fun activities. But how does a teacher ensure that children will get the most out of each learning opportunity? Well, it all starts by having a clear learning objective that can be easily expressed to the children in a way in which they will all understand.