“It’s okay to be wrong! In fact, I want you to make mistakes!” I say that phrase in every Observation Training. What’s the worst thing that can happen if you are off by more than one on a code? NOTHING! You just have the opportunity to learn from that mistake.
I know that delivering the CLASS Observation Training is tough. Participants worry when they aren’t coding “perfectly,” they stress about certifying, and are not used to being “wrong.” As sensitive trainers, we want to alleviate all those uncomfortable feelings and to help diffuse potential push-back. But, here’s the thing... I WANT TRAINEES TO MAKE MISTAKES IN CODING! I know, that sounds mean, right? But think of it this way: one of the biggest challenges for training participants is the ability to shift their focus, put aside their biases, and use the CLASS Manual correctly. As long as you, the trainer, are prepared, know your videos well, and have your manual and master codes marked up, you can handle it!
Each video in the progression of training videos has a very distinct purpose. By making mistakes, participants can use that knowledge to go forward and trust the CLASS manual. Each video takes trainees a little further down the path of understanding the tool and learning to code reliably. Each video poses specific challenges that scaffold the participants’ understanding.
Here’s an example. Consider the Pre-K Observation Training videos Making Butterflies and Letters and Book Review. Everyone is sure that Negative Climate is high on those videos. However, when you direct trainees to the face page and the descriptors, they learn the important definition of “severe negativity." Once you point out that many of the things they “don’t like” can actually be noted in behavioral terms and slotted into dimensions, their strong feelings about the video diminish. Situations like these are great opportunities to direct the trainees to page 12 (Remaining Objective) and page 31 (the description of high range for Severe Negativity) in the CLASS Manual. Let them have the feelings! Believe me, in the world of live coding, coders will see all ranges of interactions. They will need to be able to put aside bias and code the correct way—based on evidence, not feelings. The only way to do that is to let them get tricked by their feelings during training!
Take a second to think about the Cars and Letter Stamping Pre-K Observation Training video- how can Concept Development be so low? This video is a great chance to really talk about the importance of frequency. Really push your participants into the CLASS manual- you’ll be glad you did. I always tell trainees that I can give them the answer or teach them how to find it. But, they only have me for two days and then they will be coding on their own!
As you move forward in your CLASS training and your participants begin to focus their lens and trust your advice to anchor their decisions in the manual, you’ll see what I call a “magic moment.” What's a magic moment? It's when your trainees begin to understand how to intentionally use the manual and start to develop a true understanding of the CLASS measure. Heads nod, evidence is given, and they walk out of the training knowing what they need to study in preparation for the CLASS reliability test.
When I first learned about CLASS Group Coaching—a training for early childhood professionals about building relationships with children—I was more than a little interested. This, I thought. This is what teaching is all about. It seems to be an obvious concept, but once we dig deeper, we are able to identify the whys and hows of our interactions. CLASS Group Coaching allows us to identify the benefits of our classroom relationships with our students and helps us be intentional in our daily practices. It allows us to utilize each moment we have with our students to deepen our understanding of their perspectives and genuinely connect with them as people. It helps us see the world from their view and guide their learning in a way that is relevant to them.
As a CLASS Group Coaching (MMCI) instructor, the sections of any given two-hour session may feel, at times, very goal driven. These sections titled "Know," "See," and "Do” are interconnected. In particular, it is possible to consider "Do" within "Know," and "See." When an instructor supports in-the-moment experiences that connect new knowledge to current practice, they make the CLASS dimensions more relevant to the educators' daily work. But how can we infuse more “Do” into “Know” and “See?” First, let's re-cap what happens in each section.
I have a confession to make. Recently, I used vacation time to stay home and watch Season 6 of The Walking Dead. I know, I know. How could I have let myself miss a whole season? Oh, and I feel a little bad about taking the time off from work too, but this was very nearly an emergency! I mean it was only weeks before Season 7 of the season premiere. I had to do something. Don’t judge.
While I was watching, I had the strangest feeling of deja vu. I felt like I had actually walked through a herd of zombies, but couldn’t quite place why it felt so familiar. Then it hit me—I had unknowingly created zombie-like participants during at least two of my previous CLASS trainings.