Gina has been in the field of Early Childhood for over 15 years. With a Bachelor‘s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Florida State University, the bulk of Gina’s experience has been in working with preschool age children. She was a classroom teacher, a preschool director, and later a coach for Early Childhood Educators before coming to Teachstone.
Gina enjoys spending time with her two daughters, Kayla and Lucy, going to the beach or pool, or enjoying one of the many sights in sunny south Florida. In her free time, she enjoys running. Gina has completed 12 half marathons, and eventually one day hopes to complete a full marathon.
Favorite Teacher: Ms. Oliver, Kindergarten Teacher
So, it’s June and you have just wrapped up the year with your students. They have made tremendous progress over the course of the year. The routine of the day flows naturally, the expectations about what is and isn’t appropriate behavior is fairly clear to all of them (and to you), and you leave the school year feeling confident that they are ready for the new challenges that lie ahead. You go into the summer months looking forward to a much needed break, but also looking forward to your new group of students in the fall.
It’s been a great year. You have just conducted some professional development trainings for the group of teachers you are coaching. You got the opportunity to visit their classrooms and see them in action, do formal and informal CLASS observations, and had countless coaching conversations. You see that it’s all beginning to click. You have the teachers’ buy-in, and the motivation is high.
"I’ve just begun my journey into the world of coaching. I am eager and excited about this opportunity to help pave the way for more effective teaching. I’ve recently been given my list of classrooms that I will be working with and I’m anxious to get started. I get ready to meet my first teacher, Ms. Linda, and I just know that she will be excited to meet me and we will form an instant bond and work together for the benefit of the children in that classroom.
Do you ever find it difficult to explain to others what you do as a profession and what CLASS is?
When I was a classroom teacher and people asked me about my job, I could say, “I am a teacher,” and everyone knew exactly what I did. But, when I joined Teachstone and began delivering trainings on the CLASS tool, things seemed to change. I couldn’t answer that question with such a simple answer. Here is a recent conversation I had at an airport where I was asked about what I did for a living.
CLASS Specialists are always thinking about the complexity of the CLASS tool as we prepare for our trainings. As a trained CLASS observer, I am comfortable observing and recognizing quality interactions that fit in the tool. But I needed a strategy to convey this information to those who may not be as familiar with the tool.
As it turns out, using an analogy is a perfect way to make the complex relatable, less overwhelming, and more familiar to our participants.
In our previous "Real World Examples" post, we focused on Productivity. Let's explore the Instructional Learning Formats dimension to wrap up the Classroom Organization domain.
Looking through the CLASS lens, teachers who are high in ILF have students who are interested, excited, and motivated to engage in activities. They facilitate in a way that encourage students’ excitement by being involved, commenting on children's work, and asking relevant questions. Modalities in the classroom are hands-on, and include different ranges, such as auditory and visual, to keep things interesting. The goal of the activities that children are engaged in is clear, as the teacher orients the students to the learning objectives.
Imagine this scenario: As a coach, you walk into a classroom to conduct an informal CLASS observation followed by a coaching conversation. During this conversation you might ask the teacher to share some of the highlights of her week and challenges that she has been facing. You also plan to share what you observed during your time in the classroom, some areas of strength that you noted, and opportunities for growth. You have grand plans of how this visit will go.
If you've ever been through a CLASS Observation training, you are probably familiar with the graphic below. Research tells us that improving teacher-child interactions is a process that includes many pieces.
The first step is to identify a teacher’s strengths and opportunities for growth, which can be done through a CLASS observation. Once you have this data, you can share it with teachers through a formal report, a face-to-face conference, or a feedback session. You’re off to a great start, but now what?