The science is in on New Year’s resolutions. According to a recent article by Bob Sulilvan in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, about half of us will resolve to change something in 2016, and about half of those resolvers will have given up by Valentine’s Day (that makes sense to me, I mean, the chocolate alone!). In spite of those odds, I love a good couple of New Year’s resolutions. Setting meaningful CLASS goals for the rest of your school or program year don’t have to be overwhelming, in fact, the simpler the better!
To avoid that February burn out, “pick small, specific goals and stick to them. As professional athletes often say, take care of the little things and the results will take care of themselves” (Sullivan, 2016). And what better way to make a true impact in the classroom than to pick one goal from each CLASS domain? Even better, how about resolutions that support each other and work together? We know from research that small improvements in CLASS scores can have meaningful impacts on children’s outcomes. So let’s get this New Year’s Resolutions Party started!
The Pre-K CLASS tool has three domains; Emotional Support (ES) which looks at what teachers do to support children’s social and emotional functioning in the classroom; Classroom Organization (CO) looks at how teachers manage children’s time, attention, and behavior in the classroom; and Instructional Support (IS) which looks at how teachers promote higher order thinking skills and language. Let’s set three goals, one per domain. Not just any goals—but goals that support one another across domains:
The Toddler CLASS tool has two domains. Emotional and Behavioral Support (EBS) considers what teachers do to provide social and emotional supports that promote all areas of development and manage children’s behavior, time, and attention in the classroom. And Engaged Support for Learning (ESL) refers to what teachers do to promote cognitive and language development. Again, let's set two goals—one per domain—that support one another across domains.
The Infant CLASS tool has one domain, Responsive Caregiving (RC), which encompasses what teachers do to provide social emotional supports, encourage children’s engagement and development, and how they support language development. Let’s set one goal to support our Infant CLASS efforts.
No matter what age group you work with, I hope these simple goals will support your CLASS journey through 2016, and beyond! Try not to worry about setbacks; making change is always a work in progress. Do be kind to yourself, as “Gretchen Rubin, author of Better than Before and The Happiness Project, makes the point that people who treat themselves (and others) with sympathy have an easier time picking themselves up after a fall” (Sullivan, 2016).
How do you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? I posed that question to a random selection of contacts via text message. What did I discover? Everyone in my sample group spreads on the PB first, then the J. There are a variety of ways though to apply the jelly, but in my random group, the jelly always comes second.
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches make me think about Behavior Guidance, a dimension in the CLASS® toddler observation tool. Especially the first two indicators of behavior guidance: proactive and supporting positive behavior. Proactive is the peanut butter! It goes first. That layer of peanut butter is the base for the jelly, which promotes positive behavior.
I was a kindergarten teacher for eight years at a public school. I loved my job, but somewhere along the road I started to become crotchety. I was often annoyed with my colleagues and frustrated with the demands of the district, and I was sure I knew better than any training or professional development session I would ever be forced to attend.
Shared physical presence is a large part of how we’re used to connecting with each other. Strong connections and relationships are important for children who may have recently experienced loss, high stress, or trauma. As teachers connect with children in a virtual setting, it can be more challenging to think about how to create a safe space for learning, sharing experiences, and taking risks.
When COVID-19 hit and schools shut down, many of us were certain that it would not impact the 2020-21 school year. But after more than 18 months, it’s clear that the pandemic is still with us. The length of the pandemic has only heightened concern about COVID related learning loss - especially among underserved populations.