Whether building relationships, supporting language development, or pushing learning, conversations with children are important. (And fun! And funny!) Every afternoon, I walk my dog Holly to the bus stop to wait for my daughter. At the stop, there are a handful of other parents and their pre-K and toddler children. My favorite is a four-year-old who chatters nonstop:
Erin: Can I pet Holly?
Me: Sure. But watch out—she’ll snortle all over you.
(She pets Holly who sniffs and snorts at her hands and face.)
Erin: She snortled me!!!
Me: She sure did snortle you! Does your dog do that?
Erin: No, my dog is biiiggg.
Me: Really? How big?
Erin: I could bring her to your house for a playdate so you could meet her. And I could bring my brother and we could play on your swing set. What are you doing later, cuz I could come play!
That’s an easy conversation to have, because Erin loves to talk and loves my dog. But what about quieter children? Here are a few tips from Making the Most of Classroom Interactions (MMCI) instructors on how to build and extend conversations with children who need more support:
Let me know how these suggestions go--and please do add your own tips for engaging children in conversations.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published on November 4, 2013, but has been updated to keep the content accurate and engaging. Many thanks to Jenn Fowler, Kathy McKechnie, and Pam Parmenter for sharing ideas.
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.”
Many teachers will agree that their first year of teaching can be one of the most grueling, challenging, and stressful experiences for them as they take on the task of educating our youth. In my first year of teaching, I was not familiar with the CLASS tool and its impact in the classroom. I was not aware of the dimensions, indicators, and the tremendous power of interactions. Looking back, I recognize the many ways the CLASS tool was reflected in my classroom, but I also see the value in how familiarity with the CLASS tool could have benefitted my classroom. Although many external forces impacted my role as a high school Spanish teacher, the CLASS tool’s invaluable purpose could have made a profound impact on my first year teaching.