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 spread of COVID-19 has led many schools and programs to put social distancing practices in place for the start of the 2020–2021 school year. The adoption of masks, physical distancing, and other precautions has led teachers to ask how they can maintain effective interactions with the children in their classrooms.
In the wake of the widespread civil unrest after the killing of George Floyd, the national conversation about the inequities in the educational opportunities provided white students and students of color has been amplified. Due to racial and socioeconomic segregation, Black students, and other students of color, are more likely to attend poorly funded schools. EdBuild, a non-profit focused on fair and equitable school funding, reports that high poverty school districts that predominantly enroll children of color receive on average, $1,600 less per student than the national average. By their calculations, there is a $23,000,000,000 gap between funding for schools that primarily serve high poverty Black students and those that predominantly serve white students. Schools that predominantly serve high poverty white students, only receive $1440 less per student (EdBuild, 2019).
I recognize and admit to having a chip on my shoulder about the field of early childhood education - and, at times, disbelief that others may not see that period of time as the power-packed years in our developmental timeline which can lay the groundwork and set the course for much of the rest of our lives.