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.
"I’ve just begun my journey into the world of coaching. I am eager and excited about this opportunity to help pave the way for more effective teaching. I’ve recently been given my list of classrooms that I will be working with and I’m anxious to get started. I get ready to meet my first teacher, Ms. Linda, and I just know that she will be excited to meet me and we will form an instant bond and work together for the benefit of the children in that classroom.
So, it’s June and you have just wrapped up the year with your students. They have made tremendous progress over the course of the year. The routine of the day flows naturally, the expectations about what is and isn’t appropriate behavior is fairly clear to all of them (and to you), and you leave the school year feeling confident that they are ready for the new challenges that lie ahead. You go into the summer months looking forward to a much needed break, but also looking forward to your new group of students in the fall.
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.”