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!
As a Certified CLASS Affiliate Trainer, I enjoy reading the discussion posts and responses in the CLASS Learning Community. It gives me further insight into the areas that teachers have questions about, and the responses and techniques that members of the community are sharing with others. Usually I just sit back, read along, and take it all in.
Then recently someone posted, “I'd love some great examples of what Quality of Feedback looks like when you're working with less verbal children. For instance... creating an effective feedback loop off of what a child does more so than what he or she says.”
Many teachers will agree that their first year of teaching can be one of the most grueling, challenging, and stressful experiences for them as they take on the task of educating our youth. In my first year of teaching, I was not familiar with the CLASS tool and its impact in the classroom. I was not aware of the dimensions, indicators, and the tremendous power of interactions. Looking back, I recognize the many ways the CLASS tool was reflected in my classroom, but I also see the value in how familiarity with the CLASS tool could have benefitted my classroom. Although many external forces impacted my role as a high school Spanish teacher, the CLASS tool’s invaluable purpose could have made a profound impact on my first year teaching.
In construction, a scaffold is a temporary structure used by workers to access heights and areas that are hard to get to. This is exactly what educators are doing when they scaffold for students. A student is having a hard time reaching a new height—understanding a concept, answering a question, or completing an activity—and the teacher provides just enough support to allow the student to succeed.
As I entered my 15th year of teaching young children and supporting adult learners, I found myself searching for answers. Answers to why CLASS implementation was so difficult, why teacher buy-in was such a challenge, and why long-term improvement seemed impossible. In my role as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction, I’m constantly checking the data. Data drives instruction, instruction drives learning, learning drives comprehension, and comprehension equals success!