We are excited to have Sara Beach guest blog for us today. As a former Teachstone Staff Trainer, she frequently presented on topics such as Helping Teachers with the Instructional Supports, through active, adult-learning approaches. She has been an Infant-toddler teacher, center director, education specialist, coach-mentor, and early childhood college instructor, and her highest honor has been supporting teachers.
In order to be aware of and make the most of the interactions you have with your students, you have to be able to be to be “in the moment” with them in the classroom. A recent NAEYC-published book entitled Powerful Interactions suggests that in order for teachers to extend children’s learning, we must first “be present” with children. This means being aware enough of our own thoughts and emotions that we are able to adjust them and tune into the child’s immediate thoughts, needs, and emotions.
This is no easy task, especially during busy classroom activities. In order to stay in the moment, teachers have to purposefully set aside thoughts about a) what just happened; b) what happened yesterday or this morning; c) what we have to do next; d) how we need to prepare for later; and e) we they feel about XYZ.
Here are some strategies for helping you stay present.
1. Consciously identify your own state and that of the child.
2. Identify your goals and those of the child.
3. Recognize disparities between your own goals and those of the child or children to quickly adjust.
4. Identify when children become disengaged and employ strategies to re-engage them.
5. Pay attention to what a child may be thinking and follow the child’s cues.
6. Adjust your feedback as needed to help shape the child’s thinking and understanding:
Reflecting on what other teachers are doing in the moment can help inspire you to reflect on your own practices. A great place to start for help with the observation and reflection process is the CLASS Video Library and the CLASS Discussion Toolkit. Utilizing video to capture, reflect on, and utilize your own moment-to-moment interactions is a key component of the highly successful MyTeachingPartner™ (MTP™) coaching model. We've found that if can watch yourself on tape and analyze your interactions using the lens of the CLASS, you start to become more intentional about engaging in the specific CLASS indicators and behavioral markers.
We invite you to share about your experiences with the CLASS Discussion Toolkit or MTP coaching, and any other methods you have found successful for becoming more “present” in teaching moments. For more tips to share with teachers, please join us at an upcoming ISS training. I'll be in Boston, MA, in March, and Scottsdale, AZ, in April and would love to see you there!
Powerful Interactions: How to Connect With Children to Extend Their Learning, by A.L. Dombro, J. Jablon, and C. Stetson, 160 pp. 2011. Copyright © National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Throughout October, we saw a number of excellent posts from educators about National Bullying Prevention Month. While people tend to think of bullying as something that happens exclusively with older children, StopBullying.gov points out that peer aggression happens among children as young as 12 months. Across early childhood and K-12 alike, it’s important for educators to take bullying seriously to keep students safe. How can we do this in a CLASSy way?
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.
I’m often asked how teachers can improve the quality of their interactions around Instructional Support. That’s good! What’s not “good” is that we can’t just focus on one thing. We should consider how ALL the CLASS dimensions need to be in place in order to really provide effective interactions for Instructional Support.