While preparing for a recent presentation on "My CLASS Philosophy," I had many thoughts running through my head. There was no firm agenda that I was asked to follow, just to share my philosophy. Coming from a business background, I did what I have been trained to do—a SWOT Analysis. According to Wikipedia, a SWOT Analysis or SWOT matrix is:
A strategic planning technique used to help a person or organization identify the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats related to business competition or project planning. It is intended to specify the objectives of the business venture or project and identify the internal and external factors that are favorable and unfavorable to achieving those objectives.
In order to generate the meaningful information for each category, I used some parallel processes and began a brainstorming activity. I listed anything and everything that I could think of when it came to myself, my business, the childcare industry, and CLASS. Below is the SWOT Analysis that I developed:
In order to identify my strengths, as previously mentioned, I did a brainstorm analysis and quickly identified that two of the ways in which I am able to do what I do (wear the many hats I wear) is by staying organized and having an innate drive to deliver the best.
The same can be said for my list of opportunities. When I detail out what opportunities exist within my work, it helps me define goals and develop an organized vision to accomplish.
In Louisiana, we use a similar tool after CLASS observations, allowing us to share the teachers' strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for growth. This has been an incredibly useful tool for me both personally and professionally. I encourage everyone to take advantage of this technique!
Paula Polito is the owner/director of a child care center in the Greater New Orleans area. She currently serves as the chair of the Early Childhood Advisory Board for the Louisiana Department of Education, education chair for the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, and is on the Core Leadership team for the Jefferson Parish Early Childhood Collaborative. Paula also is a member of the CLASS Community Advisory Board.
Regardless of the various journeys we take or paths we find ourselves on when we discover CLASS, we all believe in the power of interactions to change children’s lives. While our focus is on classrooms (broadly defined), as educators and passionate education advocates we believe in the right of all children to experience nurturing interactions, both inside and outside any classroom walls.
In our previous "Real World Examples" post, we explored Instructional Learning Formats with a little cookie baking fun! For this post, we will move from the kitchen to the great outdoors and study the art of planting to kick-off our final domain, Instructional Support! Instructional Support looks at how we help children learn to solve problems, reason, and think; how teachers use feedback to expand and deepen skills and knowledge; and finally, how teachers help children develop more complex language skills.
If you're a CLASS observer, you've probably found yourself in a situation where you have to make inferences or rely on contextual evidence when assigning scores. However, it should always be your goal to minimize subjectivity and assumptions. You have to prevent your emotions, opinions, and ideas that are not a part of the CLASS tool from influencing scoring. Achieving an emotionless state of objectivity while observing can be incredibly challenging. It takes practice to recognize when objectivity is threatened and respond accordingly.