I was well steeped in the Pre-K tool when I attended my first Toddler CLASS training and I remember feeling pretty confident. The Dimensions were fairly similar to pre-K, and I know toddlers and toddler classrooms. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, I was truly surprised when I did not pass my first attempt at becoming reliable in Toddler CLASS! As disappointed in myself as I was (see Confessions of a Perfectionist: Failing CLASS Reliability) it was, in retrospect (even though a bit embarrassing) a good thing.
Clearly I was finding it challenging to make this switch. I had made some initial assumptions that Pre-K CLASS and Toddler CLASS were nearly identical—that turned out to be a detriment for me. I re-studied my manual, reviewed the Toddler Video Library, and thankfully I passed my second attempt. That was awhile back, and I am now a thoughtful Toddler (and Infant, Pre-K, and K-3) trainer. It turns out, many Pre-K Observers find the Toddler CLASS tool challenging at first. If that is happening for you too, here are some tips to support your Toddler trainings:
I hope these tips are supportive for your Toddler CLASS trainings. What challenges and successes are you experiencing as you support observers who are “leveling-down” (or up!)?
We all know people are naturally social beings—we need interactions to survive. But just because we’re naturally social doesn’t mean we know how to be social. We have to learn social behaviors—from our families, caregivers, and peers. Teachers play a key role in promoting social development, which includes peer play and friendships.
As a Certified CLASS Affiliate Trainer, I enjoy reading the discussion posts and responses in the CLASS Learning Community. It gives me further insight into the areas that teachers have questions about, and the responses and techniques that members of the community are sharing with others. Usually I just sit back, read along, and take it all in.
Then recently someone posted, “I'd love some great examples of what Quality of Feedback looks like when you're working with less verbal children. For instance... creating an effective feedback loop off of what a child does more so than what he or she says.”
In construction, a scaffold is a temporary structure used by workers to access heights and areas that are hard to get to. This is exactly what educators are doing when they scaffold for students. A student is having a hard time reaching a new height—understanding a concept, answering a question, or completing an activity—and the teacher provides just enough support to allow the student to succeed.
As I entered my 15th year of teaching young children and supporting adult learners, I found myself searching for answers. Answers to why CLASS implementation was so difficult, why teacher buy-in was such a challenge, and why long-term improvement seemed impossible. In my role as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction, I’m constantly checking the data. Data drives instruction, instruction drives learning, learning drives comprehension, and comprehension equals success!