Is this your program’s first year conducting CLASS observations? Do you have new teachers who have never been observed? Implementing any kind of change in an organization can be challenging, so it’s important to provide many opportunities to discuss the factors behind the change and allow your staff to engage in open-ended discussions.
Here are some conversation points to help your team feel at ease before CLASS observations begin.
Before you can go into the details of observations, it’s important to help your team understand the importance of teacher-child interactions. Everyone at your organization should be able to describe high-quality interactions—from open-ended questions to providing a warm, caring climate—using the same vocabulary.
Once everyone understands the importance of interactions, then you can dig into the more specific reasons for incorporating CLASS in your program.
There are many reasons that your organization may have decided to implement the CLASS tool. Whichever of these is your reasons for implementing the tool, take the time to fully explain your organization’s goals.
Most importantly, explain to your teachers that you aren’t conducting CLASS observations to take punitive measures against them. After all, CLASS is a tool; not a weapon. It should always be framed in a way that empowers teachers to improve interactions, and not as a “gotcha” tool.
As a teacher, it can be hard to know that someone is observing your every interaction with a student and not feel as though you’re being judged unfairly. But keep in mind that CLASS observers aren’t just random people subjectively taking notes on what’s happening in the classroom.
Certified observers have gone through 12+ hours of training and passed a reliability test specific to the age level that they’re observing. They must retake the test every year to ensure that they remain reliable and their scores remain objective.
After you’ve explained why you’re beginning CLASS observations, talk through the entire process from start to finish. Observations are only one piece of the puzzle.
What other tips do you have for introducing the CLASS to your staff? Did you set up small groups to gather feedback and answer questions? Did you set your teachers up with Introduction to the CLASS Tool trainings? We’d love to hear! Share them in the comments below.
The CLASS measure allows us to quantify the quality of teacher-child interactions—and that is a powerful thing. But collecting observation data, alone, does nothing to impact students. Improving child outcomes takes more than just data collection; it’s what you do with the data that really matters.
As I sat in on an Infant Train-the-Trainer session, participants reflected on their previous experiences with CLASS: learning about it, using it to observe classrooms, supporting teachers, and training others to observe. One participant spoke up:
“CLASS is a measure you have to get wrong to get right.”
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.
Welcome to our newest blog series dedicated to the research we're reading and thinking about.
For our first post in this series, we’re looking at exclusionary disciplinary practices with new eyes as states are submitting their ESSA plans. The Every Student Succeeds Act requires states to discuss how they will help local education agencies reduce their overuse of exclusionary discipline practices. These are actions like suspensions or expulsions that send students out of classrooms. Not only do exclusionary discipline practices negatively affect school climate (something we care a lot about here at Teachstone!), evidence shows that students of color, particularly Black students, are disproportionately on the receiving end.