I recently heard a great analogy about the CLASS tool and I had to share it. I can’t take credit for the idea. Affiliate Trainer, Teresa Bockes, originated the concept, and I loved it the minute I heard it:CLASS is like a house. Let’s build a house step-by-step to learn more about this metaphor.
Do you ever find it difficult to explain to others what you do as a profession and what CLASS is?
When I was a classroom teacher and people asked me about my job, I could say, “I am a teacher,” and everyone knew exactly what I did. But, when I joined Teachstone and began delivering trainings on the CLASS tool, things seemed to change. I couldn’t answer that question with such a simple answer. Here is a recent conversation I had at an airport where I was asked about what I did for a living.
As I sat in on an Infant Train-the-Trainer session, participants reflected on their previous experiences with CLASS: learning about it, using it to observe classrooms, supporting teachers, and training others to observe. One participant spoke up:
“CLASS is a measure you have to get wrong to get right.”
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.
When teachers hear CLASS tool, often the first thought that comes to their mind is asking children open-ended questions. And while asking “how” and “why” questions is extremely important in helping to foster and support language and concept development, we cannot have effective interactions with these questions alone. There is so much more to the CLASS tool!
Have you ever thought that the CLASS tool seemed subjective? Perhaps you’ve coded with another certified observer and come up with very different scores for the same classroom? Maybe you’ve struggled with the reliability test or CLASS Calibration and felt that it was due to you seeing the classroom in a different light or interpreting certain situations differently? You’re not alone. Many observers have been there.
Concept Development and Quality of Feedback. These dimensions fall under the Instructional Support domain in the Pre-K CLASS measure. They have some similarities, of course—but they are truly distinctive in the ways they play out in the classroom.
In our previous “Real World Examples” post, we focused on Behavior Management. Keeping with the Classroom Organization domain, Productivity is our next dimension of exploration. Looking through the CLASS lens, teachers who are high in productivity have a classroom that work like a well-oiled machine. Everyone is aware of the expectations and how things work in each part of the day. There is little instructional time lost during the day. In real life, we often do not stop to think about what makes a day more or less productive. By being intentional in how we structure our time, we can better understand the benefits of productivity in the classroom.
The CLASS is multi-faceted and complex. It’s no surprise new and old CLASS participants carry around and pass on misconceptions about it. Here are four common misconceptions about CLASS and ways we can address them during and after trainings.