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Next Steps in the Evolution of CLASS Group Coaching (MMCI)

02 Aug 2018 by Andrew Hopun

Think about your favorite group learning experience. What made it so memorable? Was it the collaboration with your peers? Learning from each other’s experience? Feeling supported in your practice?

One of my favorite group learning experiences was an English class I took my senior year of high school. Our teacher made an effort to develop strong relationships with us through individualized and in-person feedback. Even though he had us writing 15-20 page papers every month, we were always motivated to do it because we improved each time. With CLASS® Group Coaching (MMCI), we have worked hard to set up instructional coaches to lead these types of memorable experiences for their teachers.

History of CLASS® Group Coaching

Over six years ago, we introduced Making the Most of Classroom Interactions (MMCI), now called CLASS® Group Coaching, at the Pre-K age level. This 10-session group coaching program taught teachers about the Classroom Assessment Scoring System® (CLASS®), how to notice effective teacher-child interactions, and how to use these interactions in their own classrooms.

In that time, we’ve seen and heard inspiring stories of coaches forming strong relationships with their teachers. Teachers who then improved their interactions with the children in their classrooms. While we have heard many success stories, we have also seen room for growth. We noticed that we were evaluating coaches based on how well they did a particular task, rather than their group coaching ability. We also saw that we had not provided a way for teachers to talk to their coaches and to continue learning between group coaching sessions.

In order to improve these areas and make the benefits available at a new age level, we created CLASS® Group Coaching for the K-3 age level in 2016:

  • We introduced five group coaching competencies meant to build a strong group coaching environment. Skills that the coaches could use even outside of the program.
  • We included a platform where coaches and teachers could interact between sessions called myTeachstone. Coaches were able to recommend and discuss videos, PDFs, online courses, and other resources with their teachers between each group coaching session.

With these improvements, we saw more success between coaches and their teachers. However, we still knew their was room for growth. We had not included dedicated time for coaches to build strong relationships with their teachers. There was not a clear focus for teachers to practice effective interactions between sessions. We also noticed that the end of the program didn’t include a clear send-off for teachers.

With all of this in mind, we developed CLASS® Group Coaching for the Infant-Toddler age level in 2017:

  • We included four more hours of content.
    • Two hours at the beginning focused on building strong relationships within a group.
    • Two hours at the end of the program that let the teachers reflect on what they had learned.
  • We focused on encouraging teachers to practice effective interactions in their own classrooms between sessions. At the end of each session, teachers planned specific interactions to try in their own classroom, then reflected on their practice at the beginning of the following session.

What Participants Had To Say

By including these benefits for teachers and coaches, we saw great results.

They kept the best part of PreK MMCI while making significant improvements” - A participant in the early pilots of Infant/Toddler MMCI

“...the participants find this training very interesting and have expressed how valuable [it] is for them having the opportunity to learn about the I/T CLASS® tool in detail and with reflective videos to connect with their own practice.” - An Infant/Toddler Instructional Coach

Bringing the Benefits to Pre-K and K-3

To deliver the benefits of Infant/Toddler CLASS® Group Coaching to more instructional coaches and teachers, we updated the structure of the Pre-K and K-3 age levels based on Infant-Toddler CLASS® Group Coaching. All three age levels now include many of the same benefits:

  • Coaches develop CLASS® Group Coaching competencies that help them lead more effective group learning experiences, both in- and outside of the program.
  • Teachers and coaches can talk and keep learning between group coaching sessions using myTeachstone.
  • At the start of the program, coaches are better able to grow strong relationships between the teachers during a new Introduction session.
  • The added Send-Off session allows teachers to think about what they have learned during the program.
  • Teachers have more support to practice effective interactions in their classrooms.
  • Coaches are better able to lead new age levels of the program with the choice of a full 3-day training for the new age level or an independent learning experience that includes an online course and a one-day facilitated training.

CLASS® Group Coaching is a great way to grow CLASS® knowledge in your organization. Not only will your teachers be supported to improve their interactions with children, your coaches will be able to strengthen their group coaching skills.

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