Maintaining your CLASS certification may not be at the top of your to-do list after you’ve attended observation training and passed your first reliability test. You’re likely looking forward to the important work you’ll be doing throughout the year, using your skills as a CLASS observer to make an impact on the quality of education in your area.
This is understandable, given that you won’t be required to recertify for an entire year, and you have a lot to do before that year is up! However, as we all know, a year goes by quicker than you think, and before you know it you’ll be receiving an e-mail reminder from Teachstone: it’s time for your annual CLASS recertification!
Reliability is a crucial element of the CLASS tool. CLASS observers are trained to make standardized, evidence-based judgments about interactions in a classroom, and the ability to do so accurately and reliably is what allows confidence in CLASS data. Whether you’re conducting observations for research purposes, or for teacher professional development and coaching, knowing that you’re staying true to the CLASS is essential for your work to have impact.
No matter how attentive you were during your initial observation training (or how wonderfully eloquent and informative you found trainer, ahem) it’s nearly impossible to avoid some amount of “drift” in your observing over time. Drift is what happens when you conduct several dozen observations in the field, on your own, with no feedback. Are you still using your CLASS manual to define a Positive Climate score of 5, or has your definition of a 5 come to be based on all the previous 5s you’ve scored? Drift is exactly the reason that Teachstone requires annual observer recertification; it's also why they offer individual and group CLASS calibration.
Another reason you should recertify is that it benefits you. Keeping your certification current allows you to be a part of the CLASS observer directory, which connects research groups or school districts in need of help with certified observers in their area. CLASS is being used more and more around the country and the world, which means there are tons of exciting job opportunities out there for those who remain certified. Often these positions include great pay, flexible hours, or even online work that can be done from home.
Whether you’re trying to ensure the quality of data collected by your research team, or hoping to make more rapid progress on your student loan payments, CLASS recertification is a worthwhile investment.
Across the nation, teachers learning about CLASS are asked to narrate their actions and sportscast their children’s experiences in order to support and encourage healthy language development. Hearing this, many teachers may wonder, “Will people think I’m crazy if I start talking to myself in the classroom?”
The answer is no. Self- and parallel talk are beneficial strategies for teachers to engage in because they strengthen language rich environments and enhance vocabulary development, all while supporting effective relationship building between teachers and children.
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.