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Using CLASS to Your Advantage: A Cultural Perspective

24 Mar 2019 by Guest Blogger

Have you ever wondered how CLASS fits the culture of your program? There are three areas that will support your quest of ensuring that your program is taking full advantage of CLASS in your classrooms to support child outcomes and enhance effective teaching practices.

Cultural Awareness

What does it mean to be culturally aware? This is when you have an understanding of cultures that are different from your own.

Think for a moment: How does your program promote cultural awareness among CLASS observers, coaches, educators, and other classroom staff? When supporting educators and the children they work with, it is important to have awareness of your own cultural lens and awareness of the culture of the groups you are supporting. A few practical things you can do to increase your awareness are ask questions about the classroom culture, understand the group's communication style, and read about the predominant cultures you are supporting in your program’s community.

Cultural Norms

How are cultural norms established? These are learned behaviors that can be influenced by our families, teachers, and others we interact with in our given communities.

Cultures vary and can be based on one’s perspective and their established cultural norms. Racial disparity can be prevalent in some educational settings. When conducting CLASS observations, you must consider the difference cultural norms make in interactions and how you can be sensitive while maintaining fidelity to the CLASS tool.

CLASS Parallel Process

Parallel process is when adult-to-adult interactions mirror those of how we expect teachers to interact with children. For example, during a coaching conference with a teacher, the coach asks questions to elicit the teacher’s ideas and perspectives. Using parallel process with other adults supports interactions that can assist coaches and observers in their efforts of being culturally aware and sensitive in their work with educators.

Update May 2019: More from the InterAct CLASS Summit

Nicolle Jones and Sherri Drake presented on this topic on the 2019 InterAct CLASS Summit. Watch their entire session!

Get updates about InterAct 2020


Nicolle Jones, M. Ed. has over 20+ years in the Early Childhood field. She has advocated for and served children, families, and teachers in the Kansas City and Washington, DC areas. Her experience includes: Early Head Start teacher, Family Service Advocate and in various Director and Administrator roles with both Corporate and Community Early Childhood Programs. Nicolle currently provides Training and Technical Assistance with the Region XI/AIAN. 

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