Let’s face it—we spend a lot of time in this blog discussing the CLASS Observation Training—and with good reason. It’s a complex and often high-stakes training. But today I want to take a minute to focus on the Introduction to the CLASS Training (Intro for short), why it’s more critical than you may realize, and how to make the Dimensions Guide your new BFF.
I’ve been speaking to both Teachstone and Affiliate Trainers about delivering the Intro training and two things have really stuck with me:
First, one trainer explained that when she delivers the Intro to teachers, her goal is to get them from “crossing their arms to leaning in.” Or put another away, to go from skepticism and resistance to curiosity and interest. This gave me a whole new respect for this training, and I realized that—when delivered well—the success of it can make your break a CLASS implementation. In life, there is only room for one first impression, and if the Intro Training is the first impression most teachers have to the CLASS tool, then we owe it to children to get it right!
Next, I heard how other trainers get creative with the CLASS Dimensions Guide during Intro trainings. Here’s a few ways to deepen your Intro Trainings using the Dimensions Guide:
Just as we encourage observers to mark up their CLASS manual, consider encouraging teachers to do the same with their Dimensions Guide (DG). Rather than a one-time training material, teachers should see this the booklet as their go-to reference on CLASS interactions, language, and examples. If possible, provide sticky tabs or notes, highlighters, and markers to encourage personalizing the DG.
Another trainer told me she gets teachers into the DG right in the opening icebreaker activity. Rather than the traditional icebreaker where everyone says their name and one unique thing about themselves, she asks them to share a short story about their classroom that makes them feel connected to their children. She summarizes the icebreaker by having everyone turn to Positive Climate in their DG and uses their own examples to show them all the ways they are already “doing” CLASS.
We all know that training is only as good as what people take from it. One trainer told me that at the beginning of the year, she provides an Intro and invites teachers and their coaches to come. At the end of the training day, the coaches facilitate small group activities in which they ask the teachers to highlight one example from each domain (from the “How can I” pages) that they wish to emulate in their classrooms. Because the coaches are the facilitators of the activity, they have the opportunity to use this as a springboard and follow up with teachers in the coming weeks about what they decided to try out.
Now it’s your turn! Let us know what you’ve learning from facilitating the Intro Training and what tips you have to share with your fellow trainers!
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.