We asked our staff and certified CLASS observers about specific methods they have seen used to support quality interactions. So without further ado, here’s our list of 10 top effective teaching strategies.
“Pay close attention to each moment you are interacting with a child. What is that child telling you that they need from you? A hug? Help with a puzzle? Clear direction or redirection etc? Each cue from a child is an opportunity to respond in the way that leads to effective interactions across the Domains of CLASS.” —Mary-Margaret Gardiner
“To make learning come alive for children, teachers can plan questions that encourage children to connect concepts from the story to their world. Almost every book contains a central conflict or concept for children to consider in their own lives. Questions like, ‘How would you feel if this happened to you?,’ or ‘Have you ever been to a place like this? What was it like?.’ Those questions will help children connect concepts to real life." —Emily Doyle (From Teacher Tips: Making Real-World Connections Come Alive at Story Time)
"Pre-read the book you plan to use in your lesson. Plan open-ended questions you can ask before, during, and after to boost Concept Development." —Jenna Hynes
“Consider creating a ‘question of the week’ that you will ask to each child in your class in a one-on-one setting over the course of the week. Make time for these individualized back-and-forth conversations on the playground, during meal times, while waiting in line, during centers, etc. Simply ask the question and then show interest in the child's unique response by asking follow-up questions like, ‘Tell me more’ and ‘Why do you think that?’” —Mamie Morrow (From Teacher Tips: Asking Open-Ended Questions)
"Focus on one dimension or even indicator at a time. It’s much easier to break it down and target the improvement." —JJ Cohoon
“Start with clear behavioral expectations so that children know what to do, and be proactive. What activities and times of days are easier for you to be more flexible in your planning and scheduling? What about the more challenging times—how might you be flexible in small ways, such as giving children genuine choices, during these times?” —Kathryn Surchek (From Teacher Tips: Balancing Regard and Organization)
"Engage a child in a feedback loop about how to create something the child is interested in (cookies, an iPad, a pinata, e.g.). Before attempting to recreate the object, have the child list all the steps he/she needs to take to complete the project." —Carol Bolz (From Examples of Pairing Instructional Support and the Project Approach)
"Identify when children become disengaged with the subject matter. Think to yourself, 'Why is the child disinterested at this moment? Is this way over his head? Can I have him take a more active role in the subject?'" —(From Connecting with Pre-K Learners E-book)
"Be fully present, fully human, and intentional in our day-to-day interactions." —Marla Munter (From Teacher Impact: What Students Really Remember)
"Powerful Interactions approaches the question of how to improve interactions in three steps, and I think the first step—'Be Present'—is really difficult for teachers who have so many competing demands throughout the day." —Matthew Owens
What other effective strategies do you use to support children? Interested in learning about support in specific CLASS dimensions or indicators? Ask us below!
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When I was a teacher, I can remember taking care to intentionally plan differentiated, or individualized, instruction. And, when I was teaching pre-K I added the same level of intentionality to which materials were available in interest areas, and how I approached transitions throughout the day.
While any level of intentionally, specifically in relation to planning, is important -- I missed a critical opportunity in being more intentional in my interactions with the children in my class.
There is always an opportunity for interaction. Some opportunities are easily recognizable: times of play, free choice, centers, small group. We often see teachers engaged in activities alongside children during these times or hear questions being asked. Other opportunities might be a little less obvious. These are the times of your day that you might see as mundane moments that merely require your supervision or monitoring. The times where you’re going through the motions. “I’m doing this thing so I can move on to the next thing.”
In a previous blog, colleague and early childhood environment extraordinaire, Heather Sason, discussed how your classroom environment can help promote effective teacher-child interactions. In this blog, I propose we explore some of the often overlooked times in your day that are ripe for interactions with children and that do promote exploration, learning, and development!
It's not uncommon for teachers in early education to need to strike a balance between following children's leads and sticking to the classroom schedule. We know that intentional teachers are aware of their responsibility to assess student progress, understand skill mastery, and plan accordingly to provide opportunities for children to grow. However, many times, as teachers begin a specific teacher-directed activity, it is unsettling when students begin to veer from the step-by-step plans the teacher has worked hard to implement.
Teacher and coach, Colleen Schmit, will share how teachers can strike the balance between following the lesson plans and giving children freedom of choice and flexibility in the classroom.
We’re more than a month into the school year, and many educators and school leaders are feeling tired or burnt out already. That’s normal in any school year, as the newness of back-to-school wanes and the reality of a long year ahead kicks in. But, this year, that tiredness may feel like it has never felt before. Chalkbeat has reported that teacher vacancies are up in 18 of 20 large school districts, and it’s not surprising. Many are exhausted after a difficult year and a half (to put it mildly!). Many are also leaving the profession in droves to find work in competitive environments that provide a substantially larger salary.