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.
Facilitating a brand new training can come with a mix of emotions like anxiety, nerves, and excitement. I recently experienced every one of those emotions and then some as I prepared to deliver a new training. I wanted to ensure that I learned the new content to fidelity, so I spent hours reviewing and studying. I viewed the training videos. I prepared some awesome reflective questions to ask my participants. I brainstormed activities to engage the group, and I rehearsed my PowerPoint slides. My facilitator binder and manuals have never seen so many highlighter marks!
With preparation complete, it was go-time! I put on my “CLASSes” and knew that if I focused on the importance of interactions, it would all come together. And it did.
Teacher professional development (PD) is often defined as, “structured professional learning that results in changes to teacher knowledge and practices, and improvements in student learning outcomes" (Darling-Hammond, Hyler & Gardner). Research has illustrated that teacher competency and skill is directly correlated to student achievement. Policy makers, educators, parents, and students alike, all have a vested interest in identifying the central aspects of effective teacher PD to enhance student outcomes.
It’s been a great year. You have just conducted some professional development trainings for the group of teachers you are coaching. You got the opportunity to visit their classrooms and see them in action, do formal and informal CLASS observations, and had countless coaching conversations. You see that it’s all beginning to click. You have the teachers’ buy-in, and the motivation is high.
When I first started working at Teachstone, I had the pleasure of supporting a group of MyTeachingPartner coaches working in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. Now, let me tell you, this was no ordinary group of coaches and I knew it as soon as I was greeted at the airport. Within the first ten minutes of meeting Paula Polito, my suspicion was confirmed.
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.
If you’re reading this blog post, then there’s now a 100% chance that you’ve engaged with Teachstone’s free resources. After all—our blog is just one type of our free resources. You might have also attended a webinar, downloaded an e-book, or even scanned through our research papers.
If you've ever been through a CLASS Observation training, you are probably familiar with the graphic below. Research tells us that improving teacher-child interactions is a process that includes many pieces.
The first step is to identify a teacher’s strengths and opportunities for growth, which can be done through a CLASS observation. Once you have this data, you can share it with teachers through a formal report, a face-to-face conference, or a feedback session. You’re off to a great start, but now what?
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.