<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1441829102512164&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

5 Exciting Approaches to CLASS From Southern Utah University

26 Oct 2016 by Betsy Murry

Southern State University Head Start

Southern Utah University Head Start (SUU HS) is located in Cedar City, Utah and supports 21 classrooms across a large geographic area. It is funded through Head Start and managed through Southern Utah University.

CLASS Background

SUU Head Start’s CLASS roots go all the way back to 2007 (prior to Head Start’s adoption of the measure). The program has always used CLASS as a professional development tool—conducting observations and using scores to identify training and PD needs. Recognizing this as a strong approach, SUU HS recently decided to go deeper in their CLASS implementation to achieve a more formalized and consistent professional development program.  

Approaches to CLASS Implementation

  1. Leveraging an online platform to formalize data collection and PD efforts
    Just one short year ago, SUU HS coaches spent hours pouring over videos and other PD resources to share with their teachers. They also relied on Excel spreadsheets and complicated formulas to collect and share data between observers and coaches. Now they are using myTeachstone to streamline data collection and PD individualization.

    The result?
    Rather than spending their time sifting through paperwork and scouring the Internet for PD resources, their mentors are letting myTeachstone to do the grunt work so they have more time to actually coach teachers.

  2.  Nixing Negative Associations with CLASS
    This one is really important. SUU HS intentionally frames CLASS as a PD tool, rather than associating it with monitoring or potentially punitive outcomes.

    The result? Teachers are digging into CLASS concepts and incorporating it into their everyday classroom interactions. Because they see CLASS as a support rather than a threat, they are more open to change.  

  3. Taking an Intentionally Integrated Approach to Coaching
    SUU HS makes intentional, concrete connections between all the assessments, curricula, and professional development tools they use. For example, when they purchase new classroom materials, the coaches set up mock-classrooms to experiment with ways the new materials can inspire deeper interactions that align with strong CLASS behaviors.

    The result? Connecting seemingly disparate initiatives to a common goal (better outcomes for children) helps both teachers and coaches appreciate and take advantage of the program’s initiatives and investments.

  4. Developing Program-Wide Focus Areas
    Speaking of developing common goals, SUU Head Start has experimented with developing program-wide areas of focus each year. 2015 was all about Instructional Support and this year the name of the game will be Classroom Organization—helping teacher set up their classrooms in ways that foster efficient routines and transitions.

    The result? Developing common areas of focus help create a sense of community and momentum around improving classroom interactions.

  5. Beating Observer Bias
    Observers from SUU HS swap places with observers from a nearby organization in order to avoid observing the teachers they coach. They also take advantage of visits from their local TTA provider by participating in double coding sessions to ensure their observers are consistently calibrated to reliability on the CLASS measure.

    The result? SUU HS teachers are more comfortable having unknown (and unbiased) observers in their classroom—and when SUU coaches and administrators observe in outside classrooms, they get the chance to check out, and learn from, other CLASS implementations. Both strategies (swapping places and double coding) keep their observers “honest” and help to avoid reliability drift between certification tests. 

Note: Teachstone would like to thank Ann Lundberg, Child Services Manager and Assistant Director at Southern Utah University Head Start, who spoke to us about her program’s CLASS implementation. In addition to managing all child-educational components of her program, including curriculum and professional development, Ann also oversees four mentor-coaches who supervise and support the teachers.