DEAR MISS MATTERS OF CLASS:
Is it appropriate to observe during meal times and transitions (i.e., washing hands after using the bathroom, lining up to go outside, etc)? It just doesn’t seem like there’s much going on during those times.
A most excellent question! And, one that many other observers like you have pondered. These times are indeed observable using the CLASS tool. Recall that one of the goals of CLASS data collection is to capture the experience of an average child in a classroom on a typical day. Since meals and transitions are activities in which children engage on a daily basis, they can and should be observed. Capturing these times helps us paint a full and complete picture of the classroom and the experiences of the children within it.
While meal times and transitions are different types of activities than, say, circle time or small group time, due to the fact that they are a bit more routine in nature, they can still be characterized by the same types of effective interactions.
For instance, let’s imagine a scenario where a preschool class is getting ready to go play outside on a winter day.
As the scenario above demonstrates, transitions can be chock-full of effective CLASS interactions. In fact, every Pre-K dimension, save Negative Climate, is represented in the picture we painted above at least once, if not twice! Although not every real-life observation period featuring mealtime or a transition matches this one, there are certainly some that rival it or even surpass it in terms of effectiveness.
Remember to carefully evaluate the presence and absence of each indicator within each dimension for all activities, even routine ones—sometimes, you might be surprised at what you’ll find.
Do you have fond childhood memories of sitting with a special adult and listening to them read one of your favorite stories? I vividly remember my dad reading The Elephant’s Child by Rudyard Kipling to me and how we laughed together at the funny voices he used. As an educator, you know how important those moments are for building warm connections, enjoying time together, and learning about many things. So, even if you missed out on those moments as a child, you want to create those moments for the children in your classroom. With careful planning, you can be confident that your read-alouds will be exciting, effective learning opportunities.
The majority of early childhood classrooms have at least one child who is a dual language learner (DLL) and this population is growing. One in three children from birth to age six speak a language besides English at home. Consequently, the majority of teachers need strategies on how to best support this group of students. We reached out to Veronica Fernandez, Developmental Psychologist and Research Scientist at the University of Miami for strategies she’s found most successful.
As part of our Teacher Spotlight series, we recently asked the CLASS Community to nominate a teacher whose high-quality classroom interactions are making a difference for their dual language learners. Our winner, Kim Schoell, has been teaching for 20 years and is currently a Pre-K teacher in Frederick County, VA. 67% of her students are Hispanic and many of the children are dual language learners.
When COVID-19 hit and schools shut down, many of us were certain that it would not impact the 2020-21 school year. But with the pandemic surging and some schools opening up - only to shut down again, it’s clear that COVID is still with us. The length of the pandemic has only heightened concern about COVID related learning loss - especially among underserved populations.