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.
Since the coronavirus has disrupted many of our in-person plans, you might be trying to figure out how you can transition in-person coaching to online coaching. Online coaching can open a number of doors for coaches and teachers that might not be an option in face-to-face work.
Even top athletes rely on the support of a coach to improve their game. Players need coaches to help identify their unique strengths and grow their talents while increasing their skills in areas of challenge. To do all this, coaches spend lots of time observing athletes while they practice—giving real-time feedback based on current efforts, breaking skills down as needed to cultivate mastery, and encouraging players to keep trying in pursuit of their goals.
As coaches, we've all encountered resistant teachers. Resistance to coaching can take many forms. You might encounter a teacher who is direct, making it clear they don't want your help. Or a teacher who is passive, putting off your meetings and recommendations, or acting like they're open to coaching but never actually changing their behavior. While this can be frustrating, you shouldn’t assume the teacher is to blame.
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.