Part of my responsibility as a CLASS specialist is to open up the world to my participants and expand their CLASS lens within the four walls of their classroom/organization. Of course, sometimes that’s easier said than done.
One of the biggest challenges that I’ve heard is that it’s frustrating that change takes so long to see. Teachers and coaches might spend a full school year working closely, building a relationship, improving teaching practices—only to see incremental change in observation data. And, to be honest, it can be hard to get excited about seeing a 4.2 turn into a 4.4.
But, the smallest changes can make a big difference. Here’s what I encourage others to keep in mind.
The CLASS is based on a lot of studies. In fact, we recently compiled over 150 studies that prove the tool’s effectiveness. When you feel frustrated about specific dimensions, think back to all the research, let go, and trust the tool.
I get excited just thinking of the possible impact that the coaches I work with are making. Every “spark moment” between teachers and coaches positively impacts the experience of young learners. Who knows? By encouraging teachers to ask just one more open-ended question, you might help a child find their passion for science, or math, or reading. Every interaction matters!
In the real world, we must slow down a bit because there are significant challenges related to choosing, implementing, sustaining, and improving evidence-based approaches. There may be potholes, detours, and U-turns that organizations endure, such as high teacher turnover, loss in funding, or lack of support from administrators. All of these outside influences are even more reason to celebrate the positive change you see.
If you keep your “CLASSes” on, keep dribbling, and reflect—you’ll remember that small changes in “CLASS scores” translate to greater outcomes for your teachers and 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.
It’s been a great year. You have just conducted some professional development trainings for the group of teachers you are coaching. You got the opportunity to visit their classrooms and see them in action, do formal and informal CLASS observations, and had countless coaching conversations. You see that it’s all beginning to click. You have the teachers’ buy-in, and the motivation is high.
I lived in rural Japan for three years. While there, I became very accustomed to ordering the same types of entrees at restaurants due to my limited ability to read menus and my unwillingness to eat foods outside my comfort zone. So imagine how overwhelmed I felt when I returned to the States and had to decide on one entree amid pages and pages and pages of delicious options. It took a few weeks to learn how to navigate my way through these endless options without wanting to close my eyes and blindly point while ordering my meals.