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It’s Okay to Be Wrong!

08 Feb 2016 by Mary-Margaret Gardiner

“It’s okay to be wrong! In fact, I want you to make mistakes!” I say that phrase in every Observation Training. What’s the worst thing that can happen if you are off by more than one on a code? NOTHING! You just have the opportunity to learn from that mistake.

I know that delivering the CLASS Observation Training is tough. Participants worry when they aren’t coding “perfectly,” they stress about certifying, and are not used to being “wrong.” As sensitive trainers, we want to alleviate all those uncomfortable feelings and to help diffuse potential push-back. But, here’s the thing... I WANT TRAINEES TO MAKE MISTAKES IN CODING! I know, that sounds mean, right? But think of it this way: one of the biggest challenges for training participants is the ability to shift their focus, put aside their biases, and use the CLASS Manual correctly. As long as you, the trainer, are prepared, know your videos well, and have your manual and master codes marked up, you can handle it!

Each video in the progression of training videos has a very distinct purpose. By making mistakes, participants can use that knowledge to go forward and trust the CLASS manual. Each video takes trainees a little further down the path of understanding the tool and learning to code reliably. Each video poses specific challenges that scaffold the participants’ understanding.

Here’s an example. Consider the Pre-K Observation Training videos Making Butterflies and Letters and Book Review. Everyone is sure that Negative Climate is high on those videos. However, when you direct trainees to the face page and the descriptors, they learn the important definition of “severe negativity." Once you point out that many of the things they “don’t like” can actually be noted in behavioral terms and slotted into dimensions, their strong feelings about the video diminish. Situations like these are great opportunities to direct the trainees to page 12 (Remaining Objective) and page 31 (the description of high range for Severe Negativity) in the CLASS Manual. Let them have the feelings! Believe me, in the world of live coding, coders will see all ranges of interactions. They will need to be able to put aside bias and code the correct way—based on evidence, not feelings. The only way to do that is to let them get tricked by their feelings during training!

Take a second to think about the Cars and Letter Stamping Pre-K Observation Training video- how can Concept Development be so low? This video is a great chance to really talk about the importance of frequency. Really push your participants into the CLASS manual- you’ll be glad you did. I always tell trainees that I can give them the answer or teach them how to find it. But, they only have me for two days and then they will be coding on their own! 

As you move forward in your CLASS training and your participants begin to focus their lens and trust your advice to anchor their decisions in the manual, you’ll see what I call a “magic moment.” What's a magic moment? It's when your trainees begin to understand how to intentionally use the manual and start to  develop a true understanding of the CLASS measure. Heads nod, evidence is given, and they walk out of the training knowing what they need to study in preparation for the CLASS reliability test. 

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