If she could have tabbed the page where the Barbie Dream House was located, she would have! Read on to learn how our CLASS Specialist, Tracy Jones, likes to introduce the CLASS manual in her trainings!
Once upon a time, not so very long ago, there was a beautiful little girl named Tracy. She had big brown eyes and dimples, just like her daddy. At the beginning of every October, Tracy would race home every day after school to check the mail. She was waiting for two things that were very special and only arrived by mail once a year: The Sears Roebuck Christmas Catalog and the J.C.Penney Christmas Catalog!
Imagine Amazon.com and a phone book combined. These catalogs held everything and anything that a little girl could ever desire for Christmas. As soon as each catalog arrived, Tracy would spend days turning the pages and reading all the descriptions of every beautiful item to be had. After about two weeks, Tracy could simply hold the catalogs, and the pages would immediately turn to the center of the books. There, in the middle, was the index. Those pages were always yellow, with boring things on the left-hand sides and all the goodies on the right.
Tracy became so acquainted with her catalogs that she was able to feel just about how many pages she needed to turn to get to the Barbie Dream House or the Easy-Bake Oven. Of course, Tracy had spent so much time flipping through the pages of the catalogs that she had memorized most of the important information about each of these items. But sometimes she forgot the exact dimensions of the Barbie Dream House or whether the Easy-Bake Oven came with or without a 40-watt bulb. When that happened, it only took her a brief few seconds to find the pages. We all know that books can make memories, but did you know that books also have memories? It’s true.
Now, what does any of this have to do with CLASS?
When I train, I always use a variation of my fairy tale to introduce the manual to participants. I ask if any of them have a book that they use on a daily or near-daily basis. Then I ask them if they know how many pages they need to flip to get to their favorite passages. Or maybe they just have to re-read them again to be reminded? I always see lots of nodding heads. I explain that is because books have memories and the more we use them, the more memory they have.
Our participants need to make memories with their CLASS manuals to become reliable observers. As efficient observers, they are going to have to learn what it feels like to quickly turn to Teacher Sensitivity or Quality of Feedback or whatever dimension they are scoring; other times, even though they are almost certain they know the info on those pages, they are going to have to re-read those descriptive pages to confirm their thinking. They are going to have to spend time with that manual reading and learning the information so they will be able to score in those 10 minutes.
Oh, are you wondering whether cute little Tracy ever got her Barbie Dream House and Easy-Bake Oven? Well, yes and no. Tracy did get an Easy-Bake Oven with 16 extra cake and frosting mixes (ordered separately). But alas, Tracy never received the Barbie Dream House. Instead, she got the Barbie Efficiency Apartment. It wasn’t quite the same, but the Barbies didn’t seem to mind. And they all lived happily ever after.
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When I first learned about CLASS Group Coaching—a training for early childhood professionals about building relationships with children—I was more than a little interested. This, I thought. This is what teaching is all about. It seems to be an obvious concept, but once we dig deeper, we are able to identify the whys and hows of our interactions. CLASS Group Coaching allows us to identify the benefits of our classroom relationships with our students and helps us be intentional in our daily practices. It allows us to utilize each moment we have with our students to deepen our understanding of their perspectives and genuinely connect with them as people. It helps us see the world from their view and guide their learning in a way that is relevant to them.
As a CLASS Group Coaching (MMCI) instructor, the sections of any given two-hour session may feel, at times, very goal driven. These sections titled "Know," "See," and "Do” are interconnected. In particular, it is possible to consider "Do" within "Know," and "See." When an instructor supports in-the-moment experiences that connect new knowledge to current practice, they make the CLASS dimensions more relevant to the educators' daily work. But how can we infuse more “Do” into “Know” and “See?” First, let's re-cap what happens in each section.
I have a confession to make. Recently, I used vacation time to stay home and watch Season 6 of The Walking Dead. I know, I know. How could I have let myself miss a whole season? Oh, and I feel a little bad about taking the time off from work too, but this was very nearly an emergency! I mean it was only weeks before Season 7 of the season premiere. I had to do something. Don’t judge.
While I was watching, I had the strangest feeling of deja vu. I felt like I had actually walked through a herd of zombies, but couldn’t quite place why it felt so familiar. Then it hit me—I had unknowingly created zombie-like participants during at least two of my previous CLASS trainings.