In the last “Real World Examples” post, we focused on Positive Climate. Moving on through the CLASS manual, today we will explore the dimension of Teacher Sensitivity. When thinking about Teacher Sensitivity, it helps to understand how it plays out in our everyday lives. Throughout any given day, many opportunities present themselves (sometimes the smallest moments) to provide thoughtful and sensitive responses. Supporting those we train to make a connection between everyday experiences and classroom experiences helps make learning the CLASS tool more meaningful and relatable!
The Example: A Rainy Day
Let's consider the process of evening preparation for the day ahead. You check the weather forecast for tomorrow’s temperature and chance of precipitation. Noticing that rain is predicted, you decide to set out a raincoat and umbrella (anticipating a problem and planning appropriately). When the next day arrives and it starts to sprinkle, you open your umbrella. As you do so, you notice a man on the park bench struggling to open his own umbrella. You realize that the person at the bench is having trouble figuring out how to latch his umbrella so that it stays open (notices a lack of understanding and/or difficulties).
The Example: A Rainy Day (continued)
After you notice the man’s challenge to latch his umbrella, you approach him to help: “I see that your umbrella won't open—that must be frustrating, and you are getting wet (acknowledges emotions). Is there anything I can do to help (provides comfort and assistance)?”
The Example: Transportation Troubles
Finding yourself stranded with transportation troubles is frustrating for anyone. When we wake up in the morning, we generally anticipate that our day will go as planned without car or transit troubles. Unfortunately, things do not always go so smoothly. Let’s say you tried to start your car in the morning and couldn’t get it running, so you call a mechanic. The mechanic responds quickly and sends for a tow truck to retrieve the vehicle and takes it to the shop. The mechanic also provides a courtesy vehicle that will take you to work (helps in effective and timely manner). Later, the mechanic calls with a solution to the problem. You voice a concern (“That repair may be out of our budget!”). The mechanic offers an alternate solution (and helps resolve a problem.) The mechanic in this example exhibits a lot of sensitivity to your concerns and is able to effectively and efficiently help address the problem.
The Example: A Neighborhood Party
Summertime is the most popular time to hold neighborhood get-togethers and family reunions. When you arrive to this type of event, you probably tend to seek out the people with whom you feel most comfortable. You may ask them to introduce you to others (seeks support and guidance). The people you are most comfortable with help make you feel at ease in a new group, and as a result, you can engage in a conversation without hesitation (freely participate). You may even choose to take a risk and strike out on your own to meet new people because your “secure base” has given you confidence and is nearby (takes risks).
By connecting CLASS indicators to the participant's actual lives, we can bring CLASS to life but making it meaningful and relevant! Stay tuned for additional dimensions in this series.
What are some of your favorite real-world examples of Teacher Sensitivity? In what ways do we notice and respond to the cues of the people around us?
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.
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.
As the Community Manager with Teachstone, I have been able to talk to many observers, trainers, coaches, and general CLASS lovers. I have found a common thread among these groups: a desire to connect with other CLASS users and put their CLASS knowledge to use.
We often hear from CLASS Observers that are interested in observing more classrooms. Meanwhile, many organizations—particularly smaller organizations or those doing research studies—don’t have Certified CLASS Observers and are in search of observers in their area.
I recently heard a great analogy about the CLASS tool and I had to share it. I can’t take credit for the idea. Affiliate Trainer, Teresa Bockes, originated the concept, and I loved it the minute I heard it: CLASS is like a house. Let’s build a house step-by-step to learn more about this metaphor.