We are excited to have Sara Beach guest blog for us today. As a former Teachstone Staff Trainer, she frequently presented on topics such as Helping Teachers with the Instructional Supports, through active, adult-learning approaches. She has been an Infant-toddler teacher, center director, education specialist, coach-mentor, and early childhood college instructor, and her highest honor has been supporting teachers.

The two-day CLASS Observation training is a very intensive process that requires integrating and synthesizing massive amounts of new information.

Learning the CLASS measure in just two days can be overwhelming and exhausting—I will be the first to admit that! I still remember “not quite getting” that Quality of Feedback dimension, scratching my head over the difference between integration and connections to the real world and, worse, not passing my first reliability test. Oh, the horror! This was my job on the line!

But here’s the good news: with the patient coaching by my mentor, Dr. Sarah Hadden, I did ultimately pass the test, and over the past few years I have learned some important lessons:

  • Passing the reliability test is not the pinnacle; it’s just the first step in the process.
  • Knowing is not the same as understanding. I could know the CLASS measure well enough to pass the test, but did I really understand it?
  • Truly understanding the indicators, how to apply them, and how to explain them to others comes with practice, a lot of discussion, a ton of real-world application, and much reflection.
  • It was through my own higher-order processes such as analysis & reasoning and integration, that I gradually acquired a much deeper understanding of the CLASS measure and all its meanings.

You can certainly become a reliable coder after a two-day Observation Training (which is our goal). However, to truly be able to utilize the CLASS measure fully, in all its depth, is an ongoing process requiring much deeper discussions.

For my next several blog posts, I’ll explore some difficult CLASS concepts at a much deeper level, so that we can figure out the best ways of approaching teachers with all of th­­e amazingness that is the CLASS measure. Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks, and in the meantime use the comments to let me know what CLASS concepts you’ve struggled with. We can learn from one another!

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