I’ve been in the field of early childhood education for over 35 years and absolutely LOVE the CLASS tool. I wish I had CLASS during my years as a teacher and director of ECE programs. I am grateful to have the CLASS tool now to express my continual love for ECE and the importance of great teaching in the early years of children's lives.
As Professor of Child Development at Los Angeles Trade Technical College, I have started using the CLASS tool in all my ECE courses. I cover the CLASS tool with my students for about three weeks. During this time, I do a lot of lecturing to grasp what the tool measures and the concepts of quality interactions. Introducing them to the tool in such a short amount of time has been both revolutionary and revealing.
Before I could fully incorporate CLASS into my course, I had to take a step back and examine my own practice, measure the effectiveness of my teaching, and how I make the most of student time within my classroom. I even changed the format of seating in my lecture room to facilitate more social conversations. As a result of this small change, I noticed that students were chattier and began to learn more from each other.
As a part of introducing the CLASS tool, we watch and discuss videos from the Video Library. Before discussing the videos, I have my students write notes of the interactions they observed. I have noticed a vast improvement in their descriptions utilizing the CLASS lenses. Hearing them use the CLASS terminology with clear accurate examples has been the best part of my teaching since I implemented CLASS.
My students get just as excited as I am about CLASS. Even those who haven’t taken a prior ECE course experience similar reactions to the interactions in videos—such as disgust towards videos that show negative climate. In one clip in particular, my more experienced ECE students engaged in a conversation about why a teacher looked bored. It was great to get them focused on using the language CLASS utilizes like “matched affect” and “social conversation.” Using this common language helps us validate and emphasize the hard work we do in the ECE classrooms.
Introducing the CLASS to teachers in training has helped my students make sense of what children are learning and how we, as teachers, can be more effective. Now we have a tool that can help all ECE professionals raise the academic standards and emotional awareness of children. I have literally fallen in LOVE with CLASS and encourage other higher education ECE professionals to use the tool in their courses as well.
Dr. Rose Maina teaches Child Development classes at Los Angeles Trade Technical College and at other higher education institutions. Former Chair of Child Development 2002 to 2007. Elected member of the Academic Senate Rank Committee. She has also directed several ECE programs including Head Start and afterschool programs. She is an activist in the Early Education and Child Care field representing Child issues ranging from worthy wages for teachers of young children to child maltreatment. She is a participating member of several professional Early Education organizations including PEACH (Partnership for Education, Articulation and Coordination through Higher Education). Dr. Rose served as a First 5 LA CARES PLUS advisor for LAUP. She speaks publicly on topics ranging from strategic planning to goal achievement for non-profit and corporate events. Published author of 'Speaking of Success' (2007) with Jack Canfield, Stephen Covey and Ken Blanchard. Her current projects include writing a guide for Teachers of Young Children.
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So, you’re dual-certified on the Infant and Toddler CLASS® tools. Congrats! Not only can you observe in Infant classrooms (birth to 18 months) and Toddler classrooms (15 to 36 months), but you can also observe in classrooms that contain a mix of the two age levels. If you are observing in a classroom with three age levels, as there often are in Family Day Homes, check out this guidance.
Observing in mixed age classrooms may seem daunting, but it’s completely doable. If you’re preparing to do Infant/Toddler CLASS observations, read on to get solutions to three of the most common challenges when observing in a mixed-age setting.
On November 9, 2021, Teachstone hosted the Building Confidence and Consistency in Your Head Start Program webinar with Sara Diamond, Director of Partnership Development at Teachstone, and Michelle Crawford, CLASS® Specialist.
Together, Sara and Michelle provided tips for helping educators dig deeper in their interactions and feel more confident in their teaching practice. Before diving into the tips for building confidence and consistency, Michelle shared a powerful quote from Lori Archer, a Head Start teacher:
One thing we have all heard is that children learn the best through play - but how can we fully integrate that into our classroom environments?
Devynn Thomas joins us to explore ways to make the most of interactions during play and following the child’s lead in planning the curriculum.