Sherilyn (Sheri) joined the Teachstone team the summer of 2013. During her years serving as a Head Start Education Coordinator, Sheri became a CLASS observer and then an affiliate CLASS trainer. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Child Development/Family Studies from Western Michigan University and a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education. Her professional experience also includes child-care directing, preschool teaching, parent education, and training adults in the field.
Sheri resides in Elkhart, Indiana—though she is a Michigander through and through! She enjoys writing and reading poetry, visiting historic sites and landmarks, watching really good movies, and spending time with family!
Favorite Teacher: Mr. Harrison, 11th–12th grade (US History)
We specialists, MMCI instructors, and trainers are often over-the-top enthusiastic about CLASS, and solid in our belief that CLASS-based interactions truly impact student outcomes. This enthusiasm may lead to being taken aback when we are sent to train for programs that are less than enthusiastic about spending the next two to three days in a training they may not welcome with open arms. This very situation happened to me last year.
I arrived at a program, my usual excited self, ready to begin an Infant/Toddler combined Observation training, only to discover that the group had no intention of actually testing to become reliable observers.
Have you been noticing, in many of our recent blog posts, how the authors have been referring to themselves as CLASS Specialists? And have you been furthering wondering why your favorite CLASS Staff trainer, or your equally favorite Professional Development Specialist have both been referring to themselves as CLASS Specialists? Wait, what? What happened?
We talk parallel process all the time in the hallways (and virtual hallways) at Teachstone. The topic is embedded in our CLASS Feedback training, and it’s all the rage in our Fundamentals of Coaching e-book. So we know that parallel process is important in coaching relationships, but what about in a training like CLASS Observation?
A great transition is one that is efficient, quick, has clear teacher follow through, and all the while, students know what to do and what is expected. Oh! And it must have learning opportunities embedded within.
With all of that, is it possible to complete a smooth transition and still incorporate Instructional Support (IS)? Let’s explore the possibilities!
Supporting participants in shifting their lenses from structure to process is an on-going task throughout the 2-day observation training; it is a challenge I really enjoy as a staff trainer. Structure, mainly represented in environmental rating scales, but also in curriculum implementation checklists, health and safety checklists, and supplemental approaches (such as social-emotional curriculums) maintains a large presence in early childhood programs. The CLASS focus on process, and specifically on teacher-child and child-child interactions, is often a challenging switch for participants. As trainers, it is essential to guide participants in making this lens change, as it is a component that can hold many of them back from becoming reliable observers.
The great news: there is a structure (!) in place to guide your efforts—the observation training PowerPoint. Well, that and a few tips from your staff trainers, so read on!
Recently, I conducted a CLASS Train-the-Trainer. During the training, as we discussed going over the certification and re-certification process with their trainees, a question arose that often comes up during Observation training. Or rather in this case, it was a statement. “I wish we could know the master codes for all of our reliability test videos. I feel like I would learn more about my mistakes. The feedback just isn’t helpful to me, I want to know how I really did.”
Since this is a recurring comment in Observation trainings as well or really, an FAQ, let’s explore this question. And while we are at it, one more question that often happens during the same discussion is, “Why can’t I know how I did directly after I code each video?”
At a recent Train-the-Trainer training, while prepping the participants to facilitate the exemplar and training videos, I urged them not to guide the discussions indicator-by-indicator within dimensions. Rather, I shared; use an open-ended question to encourage a wider discussion about observations their future participants will observe in videos. This surprised a couple of participants, and worried others. How will people learn to sort their observations? How will I keep the conversation organized? How will participants know if they have missed something? And finally, “...why not go indicator-by-indicator?”