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How to Create a CLASS Observation Plan

23 Dec 2015 by Nikki Croasdale

The first thing to consider as you develop a CLASS observation plan for your organization is the purpose or goal of your observations. Are you more interested in teacher-level or program-level data? Will you be using the data you collect to inform professional development? What kinds of decisions will your data help you make? Knowing why you’re conducting CLASS observations and what you hope to accomplish will help you decide on plan specifics. 


Consider who will be conducting the observations. Do you have certified CLASS observers on staff? Do you have staff members you’d like to get trained? If you don’t have the capacity internally to conduct the observations, perhaps you’d want to check out Teachstone’s Observer Directory to find available certified CLASS observers in your area. Either way, don’t forget to have your observers calibrate before they go out!


Give some thought to which classrooms you will observe. Will you be observing all the classrooms in a particular program or a subset of them? Remember that each classroom needs to be observed if you want to provide feedback to individual teachers.


You’ll also want to determine what time of year and time of day you’d like the classroom assessments to take place.

Teachstone recommends that you conduct observations annually, around the same time each year. Since the idea is to conduct a CLASS observation on a typical day in the classroom, you will likely want to avoid certain times, such as the very beginning and very end of the school year, and holidays.

In general, observations should take place at the start of the school day. Think about what makes sense based on the schedules of the programs you plan to observe, though.


Be sure to provide a clear protocol for observers that includes information about how you’d like them to conduct the observations. 

  • Amount and length of cycles (typically four 15-20 minute cycles, but fewer cycles may be collected in certain cases)
  • Focus of observation (whole classroom, particular teacher only, etc.)
  • When to begin (when majority of children are present, for example)
  • What not to code (outside time for certain age groups, specials, etc.)

If you get stuck and need help, don’t hesitate to contact us here at Teachstone! More information about this is also available in the CLASS Implementation Guide.

 Talk to a state liason about implementing CLASS in your organization.

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