As I entered my 15th year of teaching young children and supporting adult learners, I found myself searching for answers. Answers to why CLASS implementation was so difficult, why teacher buy-in was such a challenge, and why long-term improvement seemed impossible. In my role as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction, I’m constantly checking the data. Data drives instruction, instruction drives learning, learning drives comprehension, and comprehension equals success!
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.
1. Collecting Observation Data is Just One Piece of the Puzzle
The CLASS measure allows us to quantify the quality of teacher-child interactions—and that is a powerful thing. But collecting observation data, alone, does nothing to impact students. Improving child outcomes takes more than just data collection; it’s what you do with the data that really matters.
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.”
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.
Is this your program’s first year conducting CLASS observations? Do you have new teachers who have never been observed? Implementing any kind of change in an organization can be challenging, so it’s important to provide many opportunities to discuss the factors behind the change and allow your staff to engage in open-ended discussions.
Here are some conversation points to help your team feel at ease before CLASS observations begin.
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.
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is having its moment in education. SEL and CLASS program developers and practitioners would be well-served to better understand how SEL and CLASS initiatives are intricately intertwined, and how they can help drive positive outcomes in each area.
Southern Utah University Head Start (SUU HS) is located in Cedar City, Utah and supports 21 classrooms across a large geographic area. It is funded through Head Start and managed through Southern Utah University.