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Several years ago, the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services made a commitment to improve teacher-child interactions in preschools using the CLASS system. In consultation with Teachstone, they observed hundreds of classrooms across the city and provided teachers with in-person sessions introducing them to the CLASS tool. They also selected about 70 teachers to receive intensive professional development through MyTeachingPartner (MTP) Coaching, Teachstone’s one-on-one, CLASS-based coaching program.

The city implemented MTP coaching following research-based practices as closely as possible. Teachers conferenced with their coaches an average of 10 times over the course of the school year, and coaches attended frequent support meetings to help them do their best work with teachers. As a result of these efforts, the city saw MTP participants’ Instructional Support scores increase significantly relative to teachers who received only a four-session informational program about the CLASS framework.

Many professional development programs that show promise in research studies fizzle out when they go to scale. That is why we focus so much on implementation—ensuring that our partners use our programs as they were intended to be used as much as possible. MTP coaching includes built-in supports for implementation at multiple levels.

  • First, through observing their own teaching and meeting frequently with their coaches, teachers gain support in implementing more effective classroom interactions.

  • Second, coaches receive ongoing training and check-ins from Teachstone throughout their first year of coaching. Coaches always have someone to turn to when they run into roadblocks or don’t know what to try next.

We also want our partners to make conscious, well-reasoned decisions about when and how to deviate from those original plans when necessary. For example, MTP coaching was designed to be completed remotely, with teachers and coaches communicating via email and phone. In Chicago, though, all of the coaches were local, so they decided to hold conferences face-to-face. This posed some challenges—for example, big-city traffic!—but coaches and teachers both wanted the face-to-face connection.

Tracking and supporting implementation is one reason that MTP coaching works in the field, and why so many other programs have made coaching a central component of their professional development efforts. We now know from research that it isn’t enough to put new knowledge or techniques in the hands of teachers, they need support to put those new ideas into practice.

How do you track implementation? What do you do to make sure your professional development gets implemented as planned? Let me know in the comments! And if you’re interested in more on implementation, look into the National Implementation Research Network, a treasure-trove of resources on implementing programs at scale; or read through our other posts on implementation. You can also sign up to receive our new Implementation Guide, to be released later this summer, by filling out the form on this page.

CLASS Implementation Guide Call to Action

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