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!
Across the nation, teachers learning about CLASS are asked to narrate their actions and sportscast their children’s experiences in order to support and encourage healthy language development. Hearing this, many teachers may wonder, “Will people think I’m crazy if I start talking to myself in the classroom?”
The answer is no. Self- and parallel talk are beneficial strategies for teachers to engage in because they strengthen language rich environments and enhance vocabulary development, all while supporting effective relationship building between teachers and children.
So, it’s June and you have just wrapped up the year with your students. They have made tremendous progress over the course of the year. The routine of the day flows naturally, the expectations about what is and isn’t appropriate behavior is fairly clear to all of them (and to you), and you leave the school year feeling confident that they are ready for the new challenges that lie ahead. You go into the summer months looking forward to a much needed break, but also looking forward to your new group of students in the fall.
As a Certified CLASS Affiliate Trainer, I enjoy reading the discussion posts and responses in the CLASS Learning Community. It gives me further insight into the areas that teachers have questions about, and the responses and techniques that members of the community are sharing with others. Usually I just sit back, read along, and take it all in.
Then recently someone posted, “I'd love some great examples of what Quality of Feedback looks like when you're working with less verbal children. For instance... creating an effective feedback loop off of what a child does more so than what he or she says.”