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Why the CLASS Training is More than Just Reading a “Script”

23 Nov 2015 by Cierra Johnson

When I first became a CLASS trainer, I was so excited to see that the PowerPoint notes explained exactly what I needed to say and do for each slide in the presentation. In addition, the exemplar video descriptions and the Master Code Justifications had all of the information I needed to discuss the videos, including examples of interactions for each indicator and summaries that explained how the master coding team arrived at the score. “Ah yes, “ I thought, “I am all set to go. All I have to do is memorize the words and the paragraphs, right?” Wrong! The CLASS is so much more than scripts and the training is no exception.

The CLASS is a complex tool and training people to become reliable is a challenging task. There is a difference between coding reliably and understanding why a dimension received a certain code. For example, a couple of days ago, I was giving an observation training. There was a video that was difficult for almost all of the participants. I was doing my normal facilitation of the video, asking who is reliable, what did the participants see, reading some examples from the Master Code Justifications, and finishing up the discussion with the justification summary. I asked if anyone had any questions, when a participant raised her hand. She asked, “Cierra, in your own words, why did you give this dimension this code?” I remember thinking to myself, “Oh no, not in my own words!” I could feel my heart pounding a little faster. I took out my coding notes (this is why taking notes during the video is a great idea and has saved my life!) and began to share what I observed, the ranges that I assigned to each indicator, and why the code was the best fit. The participant smiled and said, “Thank you for that clarification, it was what I needed.”

The point of my story is that the CLASS training is more than following the scripted guidelines; this is one training where you have to really understand the tool and how to use it. The scripts are there to help you when you need them, to provide a foundation for your discussions, but it is up to you to really teach your participants not only the tool, but also how to become reliable observers. Take the time to learn and understand the tool yourself before training others. Review the videos that you have to facilitate, and code them by yourself first, read the Master Code Justifications and really understand how each dimension was scored. Then figure out how you are going to help someone else understand this same information.

This was an “ah-ha” moment for me. It’s lessons like this that really help us to become the best CLASS trainers that we can be.

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