For your busy Observation trainees, maintaining CLASS certification may not be at the top of their to-do lists after they've attended observation training and passed their first reliability test. They're likely looking forward to the important work they'll be doing throughout the year, using their skills as a CLASS observer to make an impact on the quality of education in their area.
This is understandable, given that they won’t be required to recertify for an entire year, and they have a lot to do before that year is up! However, as we all know, a year goes by quicker than you think, and before you know it you’ll be receiving an e-mail reminder from Teachstone: it’s time for your annual CLASS recertification!
Reliability is a crucial element of the CLASS tool. CLASS observers are trained to make standardized, evidence-based judgments about interactions in a classroom, and the ability to do so accurately and reliably is what allows confidence in CLASS data. Whether you’re conducting observations for research purposes, or for teacher professional development and coaching, knowing that you’re staying true to the CLASS is essential for your work to have impact.
No matter how attentive you were during your initial observation training (or how wonderfully eloquent and informative you found trainer, ahem) it’s nearly impossible to avoid some amount of “drift” in your observing over time. Drift is what happens when you conduct several dozen observations in the field, on your own, with no feedback. Are you still using your CLASS manual to define a Positive Climate score of 5, or has your definition of a 5 come to be based on all the previous 5s you’ve scored? Drift is exactly the reason that Teachstone requires annual observer recertification; it's also why they offer individual and group CLASS calibration.
Another reason you should recertify is that it benefits you. Keeping your certification current allows you to be a part of the CLASS observer directory, which connects research groups or school districts in need of help with certified observers in their area. CLASS is being used more and more around the country and the world, which means there are tons of exciting job opportunities out there for those who remain certified. Often these positions include great pay, flexible hours, or even online work that can be done from home.
Whether you’re trying to ensure the quality of data collected by your research team, or hoping to make more rapid progress on your student loan payments, CLASS recertification is a worthwhile investment.
Have you ever been asked, "Why do I need to recertify annually?" How have you responded?
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 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.
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.
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.