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.
Let’s face it, change is hard. Changing what we do or how we do it, whether the change is personal or professional, is seldom easy. So why should we encourage and embrace change? Would you believe a lobster can help shed some light on the answer?
Imagine you’re a cook in a restaurant. It’s what you do every day, you are passionate about it, and consider yourself pretty darn good at it. One evening, the owner of the restaurant decides he is going to attend a meal “as a guest” and is served one of your featured dishes: chicken pot pie. You emerge from the kitchen, excited to find out what he thinks, and his response: “Taste this. What would you do differently next time?”
Imagine this scenario: As a coach, you walk into a classroom to conduct an informal CLASS observation followed by a coaching conversation. During this conversation you might ask the teacher to share some of the highlights of her week and challenges that she has been facing. You also plan to share what you observed during your time in the classroom, some areas of strength that you noted, and opportunities for growth. You have grand plans of how this visit will go.
I had the opportunity to interview teacher Dana McDowell, a Pre-K teacher from Lafayette, Louisiana. During the 2016-17 school year Dana participated in the MyTeachingPartner (MTP) professional development program. By collaborating and engaging in the MTP process with her coach Kaly Barlow, Dana was able to set CLASS-related goals and achieve them by the end of the year. Dana gives great insight into what made the MTP process successful for her.
In preparing summer professional development for teachers, my district knew we wanted CLASS to play a larger role in our trainings. But how were we going to do that?
Once we began writing our training on centers we decided to videotape some of our model teachers to highlight interactions in each specific center—in essence, we wanted to create our own internal version of the CLASS Video Library.
Recently, at the InterAct conference in Austin, we presented the parallel process of CLASS in 50 incredibly fast minutes. We had fun putting together a presentation that was interactive and that modeled as many of the dimensions, indicators, and behavioral markers as we could. In fact, we gave the participants a score sheet so they could rate us—a take off on the CLASS score sheet.
This month, I had a chance to interview MMCI Instructor, Shawn Kaplan. In her time as an MMCI Instructor so far, she has facilitated an impressive number of teacher cohorts, impacted CLASS scores, and has some insightful reflections for new instructors.
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.
This month we’d like to take a minute to spotlight one of our awesome Making the Most of Classroom Interactions (MMCI) Instructors, Tonya Schadle. Tonya went through the three-day MMCI Instructor training in September 2016 and completed her certification requirements to become a certified MMCI Instructor. She is also a certified Infant CLASS Trainer. In her journey to become even more “CLASSy” than she already is, she agreed to speak to me about her work with CLASS in education.