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:
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.
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!
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?
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.