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.
A year ago, urged on by my insightful new colleague, Manda Klein, who was born and raised in Texas, I wrote a blog entitled, At Our Core. It praised the bipartisan efforts to discontinue the practice of separating children from their parents and caregivers at our country’s borders.
It’s been a great year. You have just conducted some professional development trainings for the group of teachers you are coaching. You got the opportunity to visit their classrooms and see them in action, do formal and informal CLASS observations, and had countless coaching conversations. You see that it’s all beginning to click. You have the teachers’ buy-in, and the motivation is high.
On a hot summer day in July 2016, I had the good fortune of being the one not on vacation on our small policy and research team. Instead, I went to DC to serve as Teachstone’s representative for a convening of policymakers, researchers, and ECE practitioners. They were gathering to discuss if and how exemplary Head Start grantees might be identified for Leading by Exemplar, an initiative funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and led by Bellwether Education Partners.