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Enhance Your Training Skills #1: Know the CLASS Well and Anchor Your Training in the Manual

10 May 2016 by Sarah Hadden

Today, we are introducing our new series, Tips for Enhancing Your Training Skills. In these posts, we will delve deeply into the fundamentals of essential training skills, including:

  • Know the CLASS measure well and anchor your training in the manual
  • Insist on detailed justifications and specific observations
  • Have confidence in the master codes
  • Be patient and limit defensiveness
  • Ask participants to help you justify codes.

This blog series, filled with tips from our training team’s collective years of experience delivering CLASS observation trainings to diverse audiences from around the country and the globe, will provide you with tangible ideas about how to be a more successful trainer. 

Let's begin our blog series with two of the most fundamental skills of being a successul trainer: knowing the CLASS well and anchoring your training in the CLASS manual.

Know the CLASS Well

I know you passed your reliability test and completed your video facilitations during training, but there is always more to learn. For example, I had been working with the CLASS for a number of years before I realized that the indicator of Restriction of Movement included a statement about children being free to call out ideas or that the section on Clear Behavioral Expectations makes mention of having rules posted.

Does this mean that you have to memorize each and every word in the manual? No. But it does mean that you should review the key information in your manual prior to training – especially if it’s been a while since you’ve trained. This is why it’s a good idea to tab your manual and highlight key words or phrases to help draw your eyes to the most pertinent information about a dimension or indicator. Talk about having information right at your fingertips!

Anchor Your Training in the Manual

This is KEY. The only way to learn the CLASS is to use the manual: not the tri-fold, the manual. Think of Cierra Johnson’s post, The Fake Friend vs. The Real Friend. One of our former colleagues went as far as collecting all of the tri-folds at the start of the training to prevent participants from using them to assign codes. We don’t suggest that you be that extreme, but please discourage the use of the tri-fold. After all, it’s just the information from the face pages. There’s enough information to help people start to distinguish between dimensions and indicators which makes it helpful for the domain level sorting activities, but does not contain enough information to help us determine ranges and codes. To do that, trainers have to get participants into the manual. Modeling this over and over again is the best way to do this. When a participant attributes an interaction to the wrong dimension or indicator, ask him or her to turn to the manual to see where it best fits. If someone else has questions about a specific dimension or indicator, say, “Let’s look this up.” If the group is struggling to determine if an interaction falls within the low or mid-range, read those descriptions with your participants and help them determine the best fit. These types of strategies deepen knowledge because participants are actively constructing knowledge instead of passively listening while the trainer tells them the correct answer.

What strategies do you use to get your participants into the manual?

Understand the CLASS Tool and Gain Strategies for Improving Teacher-Child Interactions