Mary-Margaret Gardiner works as a Special Projects team member. Her work with the Professional Service Team includes, master coding, training, Observer support content design. . Mary Margaret has been involved in the early childhood community for over 35 years, driven by her passion to support the teachers who work with our most valuable asset, our children. She joined Teachstone in 2010 and has been a CLASS convert since the early days before Teachstone was even started! Mary-Margaret loves to play in her rock band and spend time with her family and horse!
We’ve all heard at some time or another: “I’ve done hundreds of observations; I don’t need my manual!”
In a recent training, one of my participants asked if using the manual was necessary if you’ve done many observations throughout the years. My answer was a resounding “YES!!!” It may be tempting to skip the steps necessary to code reliably, but it's not a good idea. No matter how objective we think we might be while coding a classroom, our bias can sneak up on us and cause us to assign codes that don’t fit with the evidence we've collected.
When training on the Infant and Toddler CLASS, the importance of cue detection can’t be stressed enough to your participants. Infants and toddlers depend on a sensitive and responsive adult to recognize the messages or cues that they are sending. These "bids for attention" are the way then that children communicate, essentially asking adults to respond in a way that meets each child’s individual needs. And whether we are coding or caregiving, starting with cues is the way to go!
I recently heard about risk competency and big body play at a local teaching conference. I have spent time considering this in relation to our Head Start program. One of the questions I have been asking myself is how some play that might be considered "roughhousing" will impact CLASS scores in Behavior Management. Behaviors that typically appear aggressive (pushing, hitting, building a "sword" out of markers and then using it to inadvertently hit another child) lower the score in this dimension. Do I change the way I view this interaction in terms of CLASS? Does this put me at risk for no longer being reliable? What advice do you have regarding this?
If anyone has ever spent any time in one of the Observation trainings (or TTT programs) that I facilitate, it becomes quite obvious early on that behavioral markers aren’t my go to for helping learners understand coding. You’ll even see me encouraging learners to cover them up when they are considering ranges on their face pages! That being said, they do have their purpose… but before we get to that, here’s why I’m a bit resistant to rely on behavioral markers during training. Markers are great as an introduction to the tool, but not so great for coding! Here’s why.
We often hear people asking about conducting CLASS observations during mealtimes. What kinds of interactions can be observed while children are just eating? Turns out—there are many examples of high-quality interactions during breakfast or lunch. Let's focus first on the Emotional Support CLASS domain.
In today's vlog, trainers and resident CLASS experts Mary-Margaret Gardiner and Sarah Hadden discuss the differences between CLASS "lenses" by analyzing the Observing with a Positive Lens, Observing with a Negative Lens, and Observing with an Instructional Lens slides from Toddler CLASS training (though the topics discussed can apply to other age levels). Watch to learn how you can train your participants to observe classrooms effectively!
The Scoring Summary Sheet can offer observers and coaches a lot of insight on what's happening in a classroom during a typical day. Located on page 18 of the Pre-K CLASS Manual, Figure 2.2 shows how to create a summary of all six observational cycles. It also allows coaches to ask data-backed, specific questions like, "What's happening during small group that may be affecting a teacher's behavior management interactions?"
Staff trainer and CLASS expert Mary-Margaret Gardiner is delving into the three R's of leading CLASS discussions: Reinforce, Reframe, and Redirect. Watch this vlog to learn ways you can help your participants feel comfortable sharing during video discussions.
Ice breakers- ugh. That’s what goes through my mind when I hear that term. But, as a trainer I know the importance of setting the stage for the training, and beginning to build a group of learners into a community of learners. One of the most enjoyable part of training CLASS observers is to see the group contribute to discussions, ask questions and support each other’s learning.