When I first heard that I was going to have to be observed and coached for my job, I was not thrilled by any means. I immediately thought, Great, someone is going to watch me and tell me how terrible I am. I sincerely thought it was going to be nothing but a negative experience.
My first year, my coach and I barely scratched the surface. I gained a sense of what was expected of me in regard to implementing CLASS strategies and I became familiar with the coaching system. My second year, which I am currently in, has been much more in-depth and helped me better understand how I am succeeding—and where I need more growth.
With the introductory coaching and now a more in-depth coaching, I am confident in my understanding of the entire process and want to share what I have learned. You might already know some or all, or maybe you think this is common sense, but I’m hopeful that my experience will help others.
Here are the dos and don’ts of practice-based coaching.
DO: Really examine yourself to find what you can work on. There is always something you can be doing better, no matter how long you have worked with children or how confident you are in your teaching abilities.
DON’T: Lie to your coach if you’re feeling like you haven’t met your goals. Be honest with yourself and with your coach to get the best possible coaching experience. If you aren’t ready to move on, that’s perfectly fine.
DO: Study the CLASS dimensions and indicators that you are working on. Familiarize yourself with the behavioral markers from the dimensions before your coach comes to observe you. If you do this, you can contact your coach ahead of time with any questions you might have before your observation.
DON’T: Sell yourself short. You were given the job for a reason. You’re doing something right. Be honest about what you believe your strengths to be. Be confident in your abilities but be open to new ideas and ways to make yourself even better.
DO: Have a fellow teacher observe you prior to your coaching observation. They can give you some pointers and help encourage you before observation day!
DON’T: Feel discouraged when your coach gives constructive feedback. That’s the whole point of coaching—to make you a better teacher and caregiver.
Remember that what you do matters in your own classroom, indeed, but also in your center as a whole and even in the bigger picture of society as the children you teach grow up. We change the lives of the children we work with, and we should always strive to better ourselves for those children.
Kimberly Land is an assistant teacher at a Head Start center in Indiana. This is her second year with the program and she hopes to be a lead teacher next year after completing her associate’s degree in early childhood education in December.
She'd like to share a special thanks to Debra Iams, her coach, "for all of her encouragement and guidance on my journey to becoming a better teacher and a better me."
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.
Whether you are writing your transition plan, preparing to return, or have already returned to in-person learning, you, like many other educational leaders, are likely facing many challenges and unknowns.
As you continue to craft and refine your plans, reflecting on the considerations below can help you more effectively build a blueprint for a successful reopening.