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Trainer-to-Trainer: Observer Recertification Tips

13 Sep 2017 by Becky Danis

I do a lot of recertification testing in the summer. First, comes Toddler CLASS Observer Recertification, crashing through my June just like a two-year-old. It reminds me that time is passing and summer will be over before I know it. It does that all while sloshing it’s sippy cup and demanding attention. I take this test in a hurry, not listening to my own trainer advice. After that whirlwind has blown through my Teachstone Dashboard, I take a breath and see my Infant CLASS certification quietly letting me know it needs some attention.

I take my time with the Infant CLASS Observer Recertification test, slowly reading and comparing even the tiniest interactions. I balance them as one might gently cradle a sleeping newborn in the crook of their arm while reaching for a now-cold mug of coffee or tea. There is little room for error with this age level. The slow and calm demeanor I employ when testing on the Infant CLASS measure is like the delicate and deliberate movements I see from highly skilled infant teachers—the “baby whisperers” of the world.

By August, with a new school year in sight and memories of my own childhood summers coming to an end, I am ready for my Pre-K and K-3 CLASS Observer Recertifications. As the summer slips away, I can only bear to sit at my desk for short periods. I take my time with testing, completing only one or two videos each day. 

When I pass, there is less elation. It is all business. Between the beginning of June and the end of August, I test on five age levels. It is important to take our own training advice (the guidance you give your observation training participants) on certification and recertification.

Here is what I’ve learned to be successful on the CLASS Reliability Tests 

  1. Don’t wait until the last minute. The test is stressful enough. You don’t need to create artificial stress by limiting the amount of time you have to study and complete the recertification test. What if you don’t pass the first time?
  1. Look at your first attempt as a pretest. If you pass, GREAT! If you don’t pass, you have information about where to focus your studying (GREAT!).
  1. Limit distractions. Pets...children...phones—silence them all. I tested once in a hotel room, once in an airport, I even tested once on a plane to California. Not one of those were my best testing scores. 
  1. Study. Really. Did you know that Teachstone recommends taking between five and 10 hours to study before testing? Prepare by reading over the manual, watching exemplar videos, and reviewing the training videos or practice videos available. Studying includes reviewing the coding process and looking over Chapter 2 from the manual. 
  1. Reach out to reliabilitysupport@teachstone.com sooner, rather than later if you don’t pass your first attempt. I tell my participants that if they wait until they have failed two of the three attempts before asking for help they have two things working against them:
    1. First, they have practiced the wrong skills for ten videos. Let that sink in. Ten videos. Those ineffective behaviors have been reinforced across multiple videos, hours, and days. Those “bad habits” can be hard to unlearn and replace with effective coding behaviors once they have been cemented into memory. 
    2. Second, and truth told, participants are most often discouraged, and drained after failing twice. Who wouldn’t be? It is hard to recover from those de-moralizing feelings and re-engage. 

Good luck on your next CLASS Observer Recertification Test, whenever it may be!  

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