In our earliest implementations, when Teachstone was just being formed, we often heard that teachers were caught off guard by CLASS-based professional development. Trainers were hearing questions like “What am I doing here?” “Why was I asked to attend?” and “How does this relate to my other professional growth activities?” We quickly learned that teachers and professional development providers need to be on the same page about goals. Sometimes goals for teacher-child interactions are set at the program level; sometimes they are set for individual teachers. Either way, everyone needs to be clear on what they are reaching for.
Common wisdom suggests that you should set goals based on a teacher’s ability level. Goals that are too easy aren’t motivating; goals that are too challenging are discouraging. People have long thought that the relationship between goals and motivation to reach those goals looked like this:
In other words, the best goals are well-matched to each teacher—not too easy, not too hard.
But it’s not entirely true! Studies have shown that people are actually more motivated by challenging goals  - as long as the goal is attainable, the more challenging it is, the better! The real relationship between goals and motivation looks more like this:
The key is to set a challenging goal, then identify actionable steps to reach the goal. The steps can be matched to the teacher’s level, but the goal should be challenging enough to give him or her something to really stretch for.
More information on how to actually do this - set challenging goals to improve teacher-child interactions - can be found in CLASS Feedback Strategies.
How do you approach goal-setting with teachers? Do you really work to challenge your colleagues? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
1. Locke, E. A. & Latham, G. P. (2002). Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation: A 35-year odyssey. American Psychologist, 57, 705-7.
When I first learned about CLASS Group Coaching—a training for early childhood professionals about building relationships with children—I was more than a little interested. This, I thought. This is what teaching is all about. It seems to be an obvious concept, but once we dig deeper, we are able to identify the whys and hows of our interactions. CLASS Group Coaching allows us to identify the benefits of our classroom relationships with our students and helps us be intentional in our daily practices. It allows us to utilize each moment we have with our students to deepen our understanding of their perspectives and genuinely connect with them as people. It helps us see the world from their view and guide their learning in a way that is relevant to them.
Since the coronavirus has disrupted many of our in-person plans, you might be trying to figure out how you can transition in-person coaching to online coaching. Online coaching can open a number of doors for coaches and teachers that might not be an option in face-to-face work.
Even top athletes rely on the support of a coach to improve their game. Players need coaches to help identify their unique strengths and grow their talents while increasing their skills in areas of challenge. To do all this, coaches spend lots of time observing athletes while they practice—giving real-time feedback based on current efforts, breaking skills down as needed to cultivate mastery, and encouraging players to keep trying in pursuit of their goals.
CLASS allows us to quantify the quality of teacher-child interactions—and that is a powerful thing. But improving child outcomes takes more than just data collection; it’s what you do with the data that really matters.
Here are 4 things you should know about using data to improve student outcomes.