Think about the biggest challenge you’re facing in your role today.
Perhaps it’s handling teacher turnover, managing your time while coaching over large geographic regions, or dealing with the disappointment of not seeing the results you thought you might see when you implemented that new professional development program.
Now, think about what it is you do best in your job.
Maybe you are a master planner—putting together implementation pathways and schedules for your program’s new family engagement initiative. Or maybe you’re just really skilled in explaining the nuances of the CLASS tool—and people ask for your advice all the time as they are developing their reliability skills or new classroom strategies.
Whatever it is you struggle with—or bring to the table—there is an online community that wants to hear from you. Recently, we developed The CLASS Learning Community. The idea was simple: provide a space for all CLASS users (beginners to experts) to come together to connect and share questions, stories, ideas, or support. And the response so far has been overwhelming. People are requesting to join and inviting their friends every single day.
I’m sharing this with you, our blog readers, for three reasons:
Just the other day, I spoke to a PD manager who oversees professional development for an entire state’s department of early childhood education. She told me that beyond any trainings or tools—a teacher’s best asset is the support of other teachers and educators. I hope Teachstone can help provide that asset—and I hope you’ll get on board!
On August 1 I joined Teachstone as Chief Impact Officer. If my name sounds familiar, it may be because I am one of the authors of the CLASS and a co-founder, with Bob Pianta, of Teachstone. For the last 20 years, I’ve spent my days researching ways teachers can best support children’s and adolescents’ development and learning. I’ve conducted many studies, written many papers, and trained doctoral and post-doctoral candidates who have gone on to do even more and better work in this area. Most of those 20 years I’ve worked at the University of Virginia’s Center for the Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) and have had the privilege of working with incredible colleagues at UVA and elsewhere. Honestly, it’s a dream job: getting paid to think, write, and travel to talk about our work and find inspiration in the ideas of others. So, not surprisingly, when I tell people about my new job, I get a lot of quizzical looks.
We remember when we first learned about CLASS (it was a long time ago!). It was EXCITING! Interactions are at the core of every moment of the classroom day. And CLASS seemed to draw out everything that we knew would lead to engaged learners and long-term success for children. We wanted to shout CLASS from the rooftops!
Facilitating a brand new training can come with a mix of emotions like anxiety, nerves, and excitement. I recently experienced every one of those emotions and then some as I prepared to deliver a new training. I wanted to ensure that I learned the new content to fidelity, so I spent hours reviewing and studying. I viewed the training videos. I prepared some awesome reflective questions to ask my participants. I brainstormed activities to engage the group, and I rehearsed my PowerPoint slides. My facilitator binder and manuals have never seen so many highlighter marks!
With preparation complete, it was go-time! I put on my “CLASSes” and knew that if I focused on the importance of interactions, it would all come together. And it did.