Building positive relationships through community and student engagement is one of the core values for the education department at Blue Ridge Community College, a community college located in Flat Rock, NC, with NAEYC-accredited education programs. Faculty in the early childhood and school-age education programs support their students’ success by modeling professionalism, ethical standards, collaboration, and community involvement. Since building positive relationships has been a core value of the program, faculty encourage students to develop positive interactions with children in classroom observations, volunteer work with children, as well as in their practicum experiences.
To assist students with understanding the importance of the teacher-child relationship and interactions, the faculty use the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS). All of the full-time education faculty were trained in the CLASS and began implementing it with students in 2012. The CLASS is first introduced to students through teaching the importance of the teacher-child interactions and introducing the different domains and dimensions of the CLASS tool.
For the student’s practicum course, the students purchase the CLASS Dimension Guide and the CLASS Video Library. During the course the students are required to read and discuss the Dimensions Guide as well as view, discuss, and complete assignments for the Video Library. When the faculty coordinator visits the students in the practicum classroom, the CLASS tool is used as one way to evaluate the student’s performance in their relationships and interactions with the children in the classroom. The real-life examples in the videos have helped our students understand the different domains, dimensions, indicators, and behavior markers in CLASS, and discuss them with the faculty coordinator and fellow classmates.
Using this whole system for the CLASS has improved the students' interactions and relationships with children in the classroom, which has improved children’s behavior, interactions with other children, and their growth and development.
Brenda Blackburn, MS, is an Early Childhood and School-age Education Instructor at Blue Ridge Community College in Flat Rock, North Carolina. Before getting her MS in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Alabama, Brenda spent much of her time teaching in Indiana and Mississippi.
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