When I was in middle school and high school, I frustrated teachers at every turn. I had plenty of ability but wasn’t motivated to put forth much effort and was the source of constant behavioral issues. I would trade stories with my friends, and it was clear that everyone knew I was as big a problem in the classroom. I always wondered, "Why do I never receive a referral when my friends often do?" I now realize the answer may have been in the mirror the whole time: my skin tone.
Alberta Loosle is the education manager for Centro de la Familia de Utah. Centro de la Familia de Utah is a non-profit agency supporting the under-served community in Utah. I talked to Alberta about her work with the program and about using CLASS in DLL settings.
A recent report from the Center for American Progress (CAP), Examining Teacher Effectiveness Between Preschool and Third Grade, examined inequities between children from poor and higher income families on key features of programs, but may have inadvertently confounded the field’s understanding of the forms of program quality that are structural in nature (e.g., teacher credentials) and those that reflect the actual classroom processes (e.g., teacher-student interactions) that more directly contribute to student learning. The CAP report argues that because process measures require a substantial amount of human capital to administer, this may outweigh the value of their use at scale.
Think back to when you were new to CLASS. Really try to remember the details of those early days. Most of us had some pretty strong reservations, but we just forged ahead anyway. We had to. The CLASS seemed like just another assessment in a long line of new things to have to learn in an already-impossible work schedule.
If you’ve been hearing a lot about teacher leadership lately, consider yourself privy to a very relevant educational topic. All the buzz right now is focused on well-deserving teachers who are leading the way in their schools. Now more than ever, we are seeing a trend of teachers moving into leadership roles, such as coaching other teachers and participating in planning committees. Because these shifting roles and responsibilities were previously correlated with administrators, longstanding staff, or even tenured faculty, they may cause indeterminate or converging relational/organizational patterns. As a result, educators need innovative approaches to facilitating their new leadership systems and models in education.
The first thing to consider as you develop a CLASS observation plan for your organization is the purpose or goal of your observations. Are you more interested in teacher-level or program-level data? Will you be using the data you collect to inform professional development? What kinds of decisions will your data help you make? Knowing why you’re conducting CLASS observations and what you hope to accomplish will help you decide on plan specifics.
Whether it’s an infant cooing in response to a teacher’s gentle voice in an Early Head Start classroom or a second grader delighting in their teacher’s positive feedback in an elementary school classroom down the street, interactions matter in every education setting across the country.