In 2010, Emily joined Teachstone as an office assistant; over the years, she has worn many hats, including managing the affiliate trainer program, writing content aimed at improving child outcomes, and serving as a product manager while building myTeachstone. In her current role as Strategic Community Manager, Emily loves putting her creative problem-solving skills to work as she grows and facilitates the CLASS Community. A true people-person, she loves interacting with educators and finding out what makes them tick.
Favorite Teacher: Mr. Nye, 5th–12th grade (Drama Club)
Think about the biggest challenge you’re facing in your role today.
Perhaps it’s handling teacher turnover, managing your time while coaching over large geographic regions, or dealing with the disappointment of not seeing the results you thought you might see when you implemented that new professional development program.
1. Collecting Observation Data is Just One Piece of the Puzzle
The CLASS measure allows us to quantify the quality of teacher-child interactions—and that is a powerful thing. But collecting observation data, alone, does nothing to impact students. Improving child outcomes takes more than just data collection; it’s what you do with the data that really matters.
As I sat in on an Infant Train-the-Trainer session, participants reflected on their previous experiences with CLASS: learning about it, using it to observe classrooms, supporting teachers, and training others to observe. One participant spoke up:
“CLASS is a measure you have to get wrong to get right.”
Have you ever meditated? One of the most challenging aspects of this practice is clearing your mind from day-to-day thoughts that pop into your head. If you meditate, you know that trying to push those thoughts away doesn’t work—in order to free your mind you must first acknowledge those distracting thoughts before you can return to your “moment of zen.”
Imagine you’re a cook in a restaurant. It’s what you do every day, you are passionate about it, and consider yourself pretty darn good at it. One evening, the owner of the restaurant decides he is going to attend a meal “as a guest” and is served one of your featured dishes: chicken pot pie. You emerge from the kitchen, excited to find out what he thinks, and his response: “Taste this. What would you do differently next time?”
A few weeks ago, I enjoyed a ladies night with some friends at the movies. We had it all: reclining seats, heavily buttered popcorn, and refreshing beverages. What did we see? Wonder Woman, of course! Not only was the blockbuster action-packed and fun, but it was also inspiring. After the movie, I reflected on the idea that anyone could be a super hero. In fact, in my job here at Teachstone, I interact with everyday superheroes all the time. Just a couple days ago, I spoke to a professional development manager who unexpectedly filled in for a colleague and conducted six additional CLASS trainings in one month! Talk about superpowers!
CLASS observer drift is a simple concept. It is a term we use to describe what happens when an observer becomes less reliable. The more an observer drifts, the less likely the CLASS data he or she collects will be valid.
It’s hard to deny that the CLASS Observation Training is effective in its primary goal: developing reliable CLASS Observers. Our impressive pass rates are proof of this. However, there is a lot more to conducting CLASS observations than just “being reliable” (AKA choosing valid scores). Field assessors must also learn the observation protocol that is outlined in Chapter 2 of the CLASS Manual. The manual provides guidance on field protocol; however, it is often up to organizations to develop their own standards for data collection.