If you're like me, you've started to notice that CLASS domains and dimensions are applicable to life even outside the classroom. You start wondering why your siblings aren't giving more regard to your perspective, and you start asking your significant other more open-ended questions.
Concept Development and Quality of Feedback—these two CLASS dimensions used to elicit a sense of fear in me, and I suspect they do for other early childhood educators, too. The fear came from hearing the average teacher’s scores in these dimensions, confusing the two dimensions, and from knowing how important they are to impacting children’s cognitive development.
CLASS Specialists are always thinking about the complexity of the CLASS tool as we prepare for our trainings. As a trained CLASS observer, I am comfortable observing and recognizing quality interactions that fit in the tool. But I needed a strategy to convey this information to those who may not be as familiar with the tool.
As it turns out, using an analogy is a perfect way to make the complex relatable, less overwhelming, and more familiar to our participants.
What does quality teaching look like in an early childhood classroom? Twenty-five years ago, it was providing a safe place for children to play, with stimulating materials and books to read. Today, we have provided those basics in most early childhood classrooms, and our focus has shifted to the hows of quality—how teachers interact with children, how they use time and materials to get the most out of every moment, and how they ensure that children are engaged and stimulated.
I was quite taken aback recently when an intern completing her first semester with a group of young toddlers told me, “My goal when I started the semester was to use more self-talk and parallel talk, but the toddlers are now talking, so that’s no longer needed.”
How to respond? Clearly she assumed that the self- and parallel talk supported language for very young children, and the effectiveness ended there. But that's not really true.
The Scoring Summary Sheet can offer observers and coaches a lot of insight on what's happening in a classroom during a typical day. Located on page 18 of the Pre-K CLASS Manual, Figure 2.2 shows how to create a summary of all six observational cycles. It also allows coaches to ask data-backed, specific questions like, "What's happening during small group that may be affecting a teacher's behavior management interactions?"
At this year’s InterAct Summit, Bridget Hamre delivered a powerful message during the opening keynote. We pulled out some of her key points into a two-part blog series, Interactions Are Our Core. Below is the second part of a two-part series on Interactions Are Our Core. You can find the first part here.
Classroom video is at the heart of Teachstone’s products. We certify observers by asking them to reliably code video segments. Our Video Libraries, myTeachstone video resources, and interactive courses use authentic classroom moments to model exemplary CLASS practices and support teacher professional development. Since we are constantly adding new resources to myTeachstone and creating new videos for our six reliability tests, we have consistent need to collect new classroom footage.
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. 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.