This month’s spotlight shines on Lisa St. Clair, a founding Partner and Senior Evaluator at the Omaha Program Evaluation Services (OPES) in Omaha, Nebraska. Their clients range from a completely free private school in North Omaha called Nelson Mandela Elementary School to a school for students with identified special education needs in Nebraska. In her previous work at the University of Nebraska, Lisa led a team that used the CLASS to evaluate after-school programs for elementary through high school students.
Lisa had been doing program evaluation for approximately 15 years and sees the benefit of using the CLASS when looking at the quality of educational programs. According to Lisa, “The CLASS has been useful to measure the quality of classroom teaching and learning interactions as well as to help to focus professional development and coaching.”
To say that Lisa is well versed in the CLASS would be an understatement. She is certified on Infant-Secondary and is an Affiliate Trainer for Infant, Toddler, and Pre-K. This coming October, she will attend Teachstone’s Regional Training in Charlottesville to become certified as a K-3 trainer. She readily admits that if Teachstone offered TTTs for Upper Elementary and Secondary that she would attend those trainings as well. Lisa found that going through the Train-the-Trainer Program has deepened her understanding of the tool and also helped her support OPES’ coding team to refine their coding skills. Lisa definitely understands the Learn-Measure-Improve paradigm, explaining, “To me, CLASS is all about usefulness- using the information to continuously improve the teaching and learning interactions our youth are experiencing.”
Lisa’s advice for new trainers is as follows:
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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.