I’m often asked how teachers can improve the quality of their interactions around Instructional Support. That’s good! What’s not “good” is that we can’t just focus on one thing. We should consider how ALL the CLASS dimensions need to be in place in order to really provide effective interactions for Instructional Support.
So, how can you improve Instructional Support in the classroom by focusing on HOW you interact with children?
Start with your children. Get to know them, inspire feelings of safety and trust. Show them you are interested in them, listen—focus on what they are saying to you with words or behavior.
Provide an organized classroom that allows plenty of time for you to interact with them. Use interesting materials or modalities to draw their interest in so you can capitalize on the teachable moments.
Every day, all day, children tell us what they need by their behavior, their responses to us–our job is to be good at noticing these messages. Highly effective teacher-child interactions are essentially Developmentally Appropriate Practice. Teachers just need to take a moment, observe, and respond.
Let’s think about a few dimensions that are the springboard for Instructional Support:
When teachers are aware of children’s understanding or challenges with a task, an idea, or a concept, they can provide scaffolding to help the child understand.
When teachers seek out the children’s ideas, points-of-view, or interests, they can shape their planning around the concepts that the children are ready to learn about.
When teachers actively facilitate children’s engagement they set the stage for focused learning.
Start by connecting with your kids. Learn about who they are and what they know or don’t know about how the world works. Be sensitive to their needs both emotionally and academically. Adjust your plan to meet their needs.
Provide a chaos free environment by having interesting materials, a clear flow to the day, and minimal waiting throughout the day. Notice what they play with, how they use materials, and what captures their imagination.
For example, here are three Instructional Support areas you can focus on, as well as an example for how to incorporate them into your classroom:
Instructional support interactions matter and you have many opportunities throughout the day to do just that! Interact, pay attention, respond to the children where they are, and take it to the next level with intentional responses. You will find your time with children will be more engaging and fun!
One of the best things about teaching is having a fresh start every morning. Greeting your students plays an important part in setting the tone of your classroom. I like to think that, as teachers, we get a chance to make a good first impression each day. Let's take a moment to consider the impact greetings can have with students, not only at the beginning of the school day but throughout the day as well.
We all know people are naturally social beings—we need interactions to survive. But just because we’re naturally social doesn’t mean we know how to be social. We have to learn social behaviors—from our families, caregivers, and peers. Teachers play a key role in promoting social development, which includes peer play and friendships.
Throughout October, we saw a number of excellent posts from educators about National Bullying Prevention Month. While people tend to think of bullying as something that happens exclusively with older children, StopBullying.gov points out that peer aggression happens among children as young as 12 months. Across early childhood and K-12 alike, it’s important for educators to take bullying seriously to keep students safe. How can we do this in a CLASSy way?