Making the Most of Classroom Interactions (MMCI) has 10 sessions, but there is a secret "11th session" that you won't find in the materials: Instructor Reflection. Read one instructor's thoughts below.
I did it. I finished my last MMCI session! I won’t lie—I feel relieved it’s over (20 hours is a lot), but I'm also proud of my accomplishments and the dedication I put into preparing and delivering each session. As I sit down to read through the teacher evaluations, I am hopeful that I made an impact on my teachers and deepened their knowledge of the CLASS tool and the importance of teacher-child interactions. As I leaf through the scores and comments I see that the teachers understand the CLASS tool and language better, they can identify effective interactions in videos, and they have a positive outlook on CLASS as a whole.
Look at some of these comments! (I'd like to point out that these are real teacher quotes!):
“Thank you for all your support. I think I’m a better teacher because of you!”
“Thank you for this wonderful experience; it has made a great impact on my life. This class has made me a better person and [helped me] to achieve and reach for my dreams to become a better teacher.”
“This really helped me have a better understanding of CLASS.”
One of the major goals of MMCI is to encourage teachers to self-reflect on their practice, and these comments have me wanting to reflect on my own skills as a facilitator, so I ask myself the following questions:
I have deepened my own understanding of the tool. I began Session 1 nervous and unsure of myself as a facilitator and of my CLASS knowledge. I was anxious about the questions that might get asked, and whether I would know the answer. I now feel comfortable and confident in using the CLASS language, in providing real life examples of indicators, and encouraging the use of the Dimensions Guide (even the odd number pages ... thanks, MMCI specialist!). In digging deeper, I can now help my participants scaffold their observations into the correct indicator. I encourage them to note specific observations during videos and to focus not only on what the teacher says or does, but I make sure to ask,” How did the children respond?” I can provide teachers with specific feedback that improves their practice, and I have increased their desire to improve teacher-child interactions. Lastly, I am not afraid to challenge my teachers by asking why, such as “Why is that an example of [insert dimension]” or “Why is this an effective interaction?”
During the three-day training my MMCI specialist kept talking about the parallel process, so I was intentional in role modeling and demonstrating CLASS in action. I created warm, supportive relationships; I showed flexibility and regard; and I was always prompting my teachers' thought processes. I also learned how to set clear expectations at the beginning of each session, to monitor for participant engagement, and how to individualize my sessions to meet each teacher’s needs. I would plan large and small group discussions, elbow partners, turn and shares, and even do the unthinkable: make my participants get up and move tables! And boy did I learn how to change up the example slides! I had to create an engaging learning environment through clapping hands, stomping feet, animal noises, or even musical instruments. Lastly, I gained the skill to redirect a conversation as needed. If we got off topic to coding or another tool, I was able to state, “I hear what you are saying" confidently. "Classrooms are complex places, but let’s put our CLASS lenses back on and focus on the interactions.” That did not come easy, and I'm not perfect at it, but it’s becoming easier and easier to do.
First, I know with practice, preparation, and intentionality I can now confidently discuss CLASS interactions in my coaching sessions. I can explain and use the CLASS language, provide clear and detailed examples of the indicators, and help my teachers see the importance of their interactions with children and the positive impact it can have. I am no longer afraid. The CLASS tool has become understandable, attainable, and comprehensible. Will I know all the answers to the tough questions they ask? Maybe not, but I know through persistence and using the videos and Dimensions Guides I can help teachers understand the world of CLASS.
Go ahead, put me in front of a small or large group of nervous teachers who are scared of CLASS. I’ve got this! I may still have a few nerves, but I can overcome it. I've got a highlighted and marked manual, my PowerPoint presenter notes have planned questions to ask, and I know the guided videos and master notes very well (okay, I could watch them one more time!).
While I have deepened my understanding of the CLASS tool, I can always learn more. I am going to continue to reach out to my specialist for support, check the MMCI Facebook group for engagement ideas and a sense of community, and subscribe to the affiliate blog to be sure I'm keeping up with the latest tips and strategies.
Truth be told, in looking at my Dimensions Guide, I could focus more on Concept Development. And if I were to prioritize one indicator to dig into, I would focus on creating.
... Gotta go, it's time to reach out to my specialist!
Until the next cohort,
Dedicated MMCI instructor
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.
Since the coronavirus has disrupted many of our in-person plans, you might be trying to figure out how you can transition in-person coaching to online coaching. Online coaching can open a number of doors for coaches and teachers that might not be an option in face-to-face work.
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CLASS allows us to quantify the quality of teacher-child interactions—and that is a powerful thing. But improving child outcomes takes more than just data collection; it’s what you do with the data that really matters.
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