A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of speaking with MMCI Instructor, coach, and all-around CLASS superstar, Jane Franco.
During our conversation, we discussed a story she shared with the MMCI Instructor Community about how she tricked a group of disengaged teachers into getting a real-world lesson on Productivity.
I should clarify. Tricked is probably the wrong word to use; after speaking with Jane, I know that she has the very best of intentions in working with her teachers. But she is also unabashedly passionate about finding new ways to “get them all in."
Let me set the stage.
Jane and her co-instructor, Dawn, were responsible for juggling two simultaneous MMCI groups—no easy task. One of their biggest challenges was engaging teachers in CLASS-based trainings after working long hours in the classroom. One group in particular met once a month on Monday nights, an especially difficult time frame for generating enthusiasm. Some of them simply “didn’t want to be there.” Something had to change.
So Jane tried something new.
As she was preparing for her next MMCI training session, she had a brilliant idea and shared it with her MMCI Instructor Community. Her fellow instructors loved it and encouraged her to try it out. Here is what she did:
Right before introducing the Productivity dimension, she began shuffling papers and looking for lost notes. When she didn’t find them, she told her teachers she’d left her notes in another room and left for several minutes. (Hint: she didn’t really lose her notes!) She stayed outside for about two minutes and overheard participants muttering under their breath.
When she finally returned, her participants saw she didn’t have anything in her hand, and wondered how she could be so disorganized.
This is when she revealed her trick.
She looked at everybody and asked, “What did this disruption do to the flow of our class?” Some noted that they lost focus; others mumbled frustrations their breath. It only took a few more moments until then they started to get it, exclaiming: “This is a setup!” And it was. Jane explained, “If I come in unprepared, without a plan, making you wait around—then I am wasting your time. It’s no different for your students when you indulge in a distraction or forget to prepare materials. When Productivity goes down, it means they lose precious learning time.” They got it. One teacher giggled and even said, “In a way, even though we were waiting, you were maximizing our learning time, because you were teaching us a lesson.”
It was simple but effective.
When I spoke to Jane about how it went, she described the success of her experiment—it woke up the teachers, got them engaged, and created a memorable experience. Plus, it only took a couple minutes (time is precious during these trainings!). Jane also reiterated a good point: what works with one group may not work in another. However, the only way to know is to get creative and test things out.
By the way, Jane did try out her experiment with her second MMCI cohort and they also responded positively ... and will probably never forget what the Productivity dimension is all about!
If you like the idea of joining an online group and swapping stories and strategies with people like Jane, then you should consider joining the brand new CLASS Community. It contains CLASS experts, newbies, and everyone in-between—the only prerequisite is an interest in improving classroom interactions.
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.
As a CLASS Group Coaching (MMCI) instructor, the sections of any given two-hour session may feel, at times, very goal driven. These sections titled "Know," "See," and "Do” are interconnected. In particular, it is possible to consider "Do" within "Know," and "See." When an instructor supports in-the-moment experiences that connect new knowledge to current practice, they make the CLASS dimensions more relevant to the educators' daily work. But how can we infuse more “Do” into “Know” and “See?” First, let's re-cap what happens in each section.
I have a confession to make. Recently, I used vacation time to stay home and watch Season 6 of The Walking Dead. I know, I know. How could I have let myself miss a whole season? Oh, and I feel a little bad about taking the time off from work too, but this was very nearly an emergency! I mean it was only weeks before Season 7 of the season premiere. I had to do something. Don’t judge.
While I was watching, I had the strangest feeling of deja vu. I felt like I had actually walked through a herd of zombies, but couldn’t quite place why it felt so familiar. Then it hit me—I had unknowingly created zombie-like participants during at least two of my previous CLASS trainings.