When conducting a CLASS training, there are always a few dimensions I know participants are probably going to struggle with more than others. For instance, Concept Development is going to be tricky for some, followed closely by Quality of Feedback. Usually though, as we progress through training, these dimensions become more clear.
But this post isn’t about a challenging dimension. It isn’t even about the Instructional Support domain. This post is about Clarity of Learning Objectives (CLO), a pesky indicator for some, hiding in the Instructional Learning Formats dimension.
CLO’s behavioral markers include three mostly unfamiliar terms: advanced organizers, summaries, and reorientation statements. While the manual provides examples in the descriptive pages, and Teachstone offers several videos to help participants make sense of these terms, I often end this dimension with participants still asking questions. What do these terms really mean? What do they look like in Pre-K classrooms? What is the difference between a mid and a high-range example?
I decided to talk with some CLASSy people about this indicator because it can be challenging to clear up the confusion during a busy, content-packed training. Here are some great takeaways from that discussion! These examples concretely illustrate the three behavioral markers and other interactions that provide evidence of Clarity of Learning Objectives at a variety of ranges.
Remember: the behavioral markers aren’t a checklist, so teachers do not necessarily need to use every one of these statements to demonstrate highly effective CLO; however, they do need to focus children on tasks and learning objectives and may often use these strategies to do that!
The teacher prepares the children for what they are going to do before the activity begins. Teachers typically only use advanced organizers at the beginning of a lesson or activity.
The children know why they are doing the activities and how to focus their attention during them.
While children are correctly focused on particular tasks, they are mostly unclear on the learning objectives behind those tasks.
The teacher summarizes for the children what they just did after the completion of an activity. Teachers typically use summary statements at the end of a lesson or activity.
The teacher clearly summarizes what children have done and the children could clearly explain why they did it.
The teacher makes an attempt to summarize the activites, but these statements are brief and superficial, so the learning objectives are never made clear to children.
The teacher reminds the children what they are doing and why during the activity or lesson. Reorientation Statements can happen at anytime during an activity, and may be in response to children’s wandering focus, or not.
The teacher clearly refocuses the children’s attention on the learning objectives and tasks throughout the activity. Children are reminded how to focus their attention and the purpose their activities.
Most, or all of the children know what to do and how to focus their attention, but the learning objective isn’t clear. While the teacher mentions the snow pictures, the link isn’t explicit or obvious. Some children might have made the connection on their own, painting snowmen or making footprints and snowflakes, but others might be making flowers or hearts instead, showing their lack of clarity on the objective, even though they know how to focus their attention.
I hope these examples are helpful in your journey to train and coach others on the CLASS measure. Share some examples you like to use when clarifying this tricky indicator!
How can we as leaders ensure that our early childhood programs are providing the highest quality care to our children?
Even before the pandemic, we asked ourselves this question often. Our search for a way to support teachers and continuously improve the quality of our programs led us on a journey culminating in the implementation of The Essential 0-5 Survey in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana.
In honor of Black History Month and as part of our ongoing Teacher Spotlight series, we recently asked the CLASS Community to nominate outstanding Black educators who are making a difference in their schools. With over 200 nominations, it was certainly difficult to pick just one winner, but Talise Owens-Hundley stood out. Talise has been teaching for 15 years and is currently a lead teacher at Next Door in Milwaukee, WI. The program focuses on getting children ready for school with academic and social-emotional learning as well as a range of health services– at no cost to their families.
Do you have fond childhood memories of sitting with a special adult and listening to them read one of your favorite stories? I vividly remember my dad reading The Elephant’s Child by Rudyard Kipling to me and how we laughed together at the funny voices he used. As an educator, you know how important those moments are for building warm connections, enjoying time together, and learning about many things. So, even if you missed out on those moments as a child, you want to create those moments for the children in your classroom. With careful planning, you can be confident that your read-alouds will be exciting, effective learning opportunities.
The majority of early childhood classrooms have at least one child who is a dual language learner (DLL) and this population is growing. One in three children from birth to age six speak a language besides English at home. Consequently, the majority of teachers need strategies on how to best support this group of students. We reached out to Veronica Fernandez, Developmental Psychologist and Research Scientist at the University of Miami for strategies she’s found most successful.