Once you have been through CLASS Observation Training, it is hard not to notice interactions everywhere you go! You even start to sort those behaviors into dimensions mentally—at least I know I do! When this happens, it can lead us to our own "ah-ha!" moments when preparing for training and gives us some great examples to use with participants who may be experiencing CLASS for the first time. Being able to connect the tool with a relevant, real world examples helps participants connect new content with something they may have experienced, too!
We want to help add to your collection of examples to use during trainings, and thus the “Real World Examples" series is born. Each post in this series will take a look at one dimension and give real world examples of its indicators. Today we will start by looking at Positive Climate.
The Example: Getting To Know New Neighbors
Consider the process in getting to know new neighbors. It starts by talking in passing and asking how things are going. As you get to know them, perhaps you offer to help them out with a garden chore (peer assistance). As the relationship builds, you begin talking about everything from kids to work to family (social conversation). Soon, you’re planning trips to the park together or even neighborhood barbecues (shared activities) where everyone pitches in and comes together to talk and eat around the picnic table (physical proximity).
The Example: Grocery Store Demonstrations
Think about a trip to the grocery store, when the management thoughtfully places a tasting cart close to the entry. What makes these trips memorable is not just the placement of the tasting cart, but the demonstrator that consistently greets customers. Upon arrival, she greets you with a big smile and says, “Welcome back!” Her enthusiasm draws you in to look at the product on display, and when you approach the table, she is so enthused about what she is serving that you can’t help but take a taste! You leave feeling a bit more cheery, which makes shopping in a busy store more enjoyable.
The Example: Kid’s Soccer Teams
Have you ever experienced children’s sports games, the ones where they are just learning their sport of choice? Take soccer, for example: imagine one team of girls learning the game and trying to find their coordination all at the same time. It's adorable but also a time of great influence for the girls trying to find their way in a new experience. Here, you will often find ample examples of positive communication. You might notice the coach greeting each girl with an enthusiastic, “I’m so glad you are here today!” (verbal affection) and high-fives (physical affection). During a water break, the coach crouches down and tells the team, “I am so proud of how hard you are working today! I know if we work together, we can make some goals” (positive expectations).
The Example: A Visit to the Doctor
Taking a child to the doctor can be a great experience—especially if you have a doctor who respects the child they are working with. Respectful doctors greet the child when they enter the examination room: “Good morning Joe, good morning mom” (using names). They use a warm, calm voice, and always ask for the child’s permission before checking eyes and ears. At the end of the appointment, they thank their patients (respectful language) for coming in for the visit.
By connecting CLASS indicators to your life, CLASS will be more meaningful and relevant! Stay tuned for additional dimensions in this series. What are some of your favorite real-world examples of Positive Climate?
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.”
Many teachers will agree that their first year of teaching can be one of the most grueling, challenging, and stressful experiences for them as they take on the task of educating our youth. In my first year of teaching, I was not familiar with the CLASS tool and its impact in the classroom. I was not aware of the dimensions, indicators, and the tremendous power of interactions. Looking back, I recognize the many ways the CLASS tool was reflected in my classroom, but I also see the value in how familiarity with the CLASS tool could have benefitted my classroom. Although many external forces impacted my role as a high school Spanish teacher, the CLASS tool’s invaluable purpose could have made a profound impact on my first year teaching.
In construction, a scaffold is a temporary structure used by workers to access heights and areas that are hard to get to. This is exactly what educators are doing when they scaffold for students. A student is having a hard time reaching a new height—understanding a concept, answering a question, or completing an activity—and the teacher provides just enough support to allow the student to succeed.
As I entered my 15th year of teaching young children and supporting adult learners, I found myself searching for answers. Answers to why CLASS implementation was so difficult, why teacher buy-in was such a challenge, and why long-term improvement seemed impossible. In my role as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction, I’m constantly checking the data. Data drives instruction, instruction drives learning, learning drives comprehension, and comprehension equals success!