Nikki earned her BA in Psychology and Cognitive Science from the University of Virginia. She has been using the CLASS tool since 2010, when she worked as a Pre-K CLASS coder and research assistant at the Center for the Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning. She is now the Observer Support Manager at Teachstone and loves being able to support others in conducting classroom observations with fidelity. Her expertise is in live and videotaped CLASS coding, and she is certified on all age levels of the CLASS tool, Infant through Secondary.
In her free time, Nikki likes going to the movies and wine tasting with her friends and family. She also enjoys yoga, puzzles, and playing with her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Neo.
So, you’re dual-certified on the Infant and Toddler CLASS® tools. Congrats! Not only can you observe in Infant classrooms (birth to 18 months) and Toddler classrooms (15 to 36 months), but you can also observe in classrooms that contain a mix of the two age levels. If you are observing in a classroom with three age levels, as there often are in Family Day Homes, check out this guidance.
Observing in mixed age classrooms may seem daunting, but it’s completely doable. If you’re preparing to do Infant/Toddler CLASS observations, read on to get solutions to three of the most common challenges when observing in a mixed-age setting.
Have you ever thought that the CLASS tool seemed subjective? Perhaps you’ve coded with another certified observer and come up with very different scores for the same classroom? Maybe you’ve struggled with the reliability test or CLASS Calibration and felt that it was due to you seeing the classroom in a different light or interpreting certain situations differently? You’re not alone. Many observers have been there.
The CLASS tool is complex, and for good reason. It measures human interactions, which are in and of themselves very complex. While complexity in measuring interactions is a good thing, CLASS takes ongoing practice to master and maintain. If you are not in the tool regularly, or if you train a lot but only occasionally code in classrooms, you can experience what we call “drift.” It’s possible to move away from being as reliable as you once were. Luckily, there’s an answer for that—CLASS Calibration!
You recertify once a year to make sure you are staying true to the tool—that’s essential. But what happens between annual recertifications, during the course of each year? The data you collect is a crucial component of a comprehensive professional development plan and research. So, how can you really be sure you are conducting fair and accurate observations at all times? We have the answer for that: CLASS Calibration!
The first thing to consider as you develop a CLASS observation plan for your organization is the purpose or goal of your observations. Are you more interested in teacher-level or program-level data? Will you be using the data you collect to inform professional development? What kinds of decisions will your data help you make? Knowing why you’re conducting CLASS observations and what you hope to accomplish will help you decide on plan specifics.
In preschool programs, meals can take place in the classroom or in the cafeteria. The CLASS Manual tells us that meal times are perfectly acceptable times to observe. But, does this hold true across settings? Are meal times in the cafeteria just as observable as meal times in the classroom?
The CLASS score report is a vessel for providing informative and constructive feedback to teachers about the effectiveness of their classroom interactions. The report can vary depending on your goals and resources, just like a recipe for chocolate chip cookies (fun fact: you can substitute bananas for eggs if you want a low-fat or vegan option or you’re just out of eggs!), but here’s a tried and true recipe for the CLASS score report cooked up by the chefs at Teachstone.