UE? CLASS-S? You may not be aware that there are CLASS observation tools and supports for use at the Upper Elementary and Secondary School levels. I’ve facilitated quite a few trainings at these levels and am excited to see them being used more widely. Most people I meet in the process find the upper-level tools aligned with school-wide initiatives, best practices, and their own sense of what good teaching looks like.
One of the powerful things about the CLASS system is its impact across the continuum of ages and stages. With the recent introduction of the infant observation tool, the CLASS continuum now goes from birth through high school. We’ve probably all had situations where we hoped for better communication among colleagues and across agencies at all levels. Systemic use of CLASS promotes this. The CLASS focus is always on effective classroom interactions, but the specific “look-fors” vary by developmental level.
The Upper Elementary and Secondary CLASS frameworks share the pre-K and K-3 domains, but there are differences in dimensions, indicators, and behavioral markers. Of particular note, Instructional Support dimensions are more differentiated and tailored to older students. Dimensions such as Content Understanding, Analysis & Inquiry and Instructional Dialogue increase cognitive demand. Another difference at the upper levels is the dimension of Student Engagement. It stands alone—not categorized under one of the three domains. There are a dozen dimensions in all.
We often talk about parallel process in terms of how CLASS relates to our own work with adults—as a trainer or coach. The upper level CLASS dimensions and descriptions really hit home when it comes to thinking about our own practice. It’s not a huge leap from UE and Secondary CLASS concepts to our interactions with colleagues. More than a few college professors at the observation trainings have reported back about their own heightened awareness of effective interactions with their adult students.
As a growing number of schools use the UE and Secondary CLASS, don’t be surprised to hear more educators talking about the CLASS tool—and talking to each other across ages and stages about interactions that matter.
The time has come for hard conversations.
That’s the feedback we have been receiving from educators across the country. There are plenty of tough conversations educators are trained, taught, or feel equipped to handle with children and families - gently bringing up a developmental concern, facilitating a disagreement between students, or explaining what happened with the classroom goldfish are all part of a day in the life. But in the last year, since the killing of George Floyd and other Black people at the hands of police, educators are increasingly asking for help in communicating more comfortably with young children about diversity and difference.
We’re still soaking up the wisdom shared by our many, many excellent speakers at the spring 2021 InterAct Summit. From its inception, Teachstone has been an organization based in research. Because the CLASS is reliable and valid, teachers and programs trust it to give meaningful, accurate, and actionable information. To learn more about the current work being done in the field, we invited co-founder Bob Pianta to give an update on new research findings.
I was supposed to be an architect, instead I was a teacher of young children; it felt like my calling.
When I started my coursework, they tasked me with visiting multiple classrooms. It overwhelmed me when in some classrooms, children were crying, teachers were frustrated, and no one seemed to enjoy the day. I thought I had made a mistake. Thankfully, I had a professor who inspired me to continue. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the behaviors I observed in both children and teachers, the professor charged me to uncover the root of those behaviors.
And so, my journey to support social-emotional development began.
At Teachstone, we are all in on early learning. The research shows us that, with the help of effective educators, there is so much potential to build a strong foundation for children’s learning well before elementary school. But some research, including the Head Start Impact Study and the research on Tennessee’s voluntary pre-K, has complicated the story. Researchers found that in some cases, gains made in early childhood education seemed to fade out by around third grade.
Follow-up research has added to the narrative.