“Show. Don’t tell,” said every writing teacher ever. And just as common was students’ response: “Why?” Whether describing a setting sun or explaining Feedback Loops, I’ve always found it easier to just tell. But I’ve never found it as effective as showing. That’s why I was especially excited to get to spend an hour talking with folks who support teachers’ growth about how to interact with teachers in ways that help show them the kinds of effective interactions we want them to have with kids. We call this kind of showing parallel process. Watch the recording of our webinar to hear more of our conversation.
Good question! Parallel process is when we interact with teachers in the same ways we expect them to interact with children. It’s a way to show teachers what we mean by things like “contingent response” or “feedback loops” by letting them experience them first hand.
Parallel process can also help us reflect on how we interact with teachers. Even though the CLASS framework focuses on teacher-child interactions, there are many parallels to adult learning; one example comes from research on behavior change that “suggests that people are more likely to make changes when feedback comes from a trusted and respected source.” Isn’t that what Emotional Support is all about? Shouldn’t we also strive to be productive and engaging as we work with teachers? Shouldn’t we be providing feedback that clarifies and extends teachers’ understanding?
If you’re interested in learning about ways to model effective interactions or want to take a fresh look at your own coaching practices, check out our recording of the MyTeachingPartner (MTP) quarterly webinar on parallel process.
Can we talk about structure? When CLASS entered my life, I was 20 years into my career in the field of early childhood education. What I remember most about that initial training, besides the nervousness about an impending reliability test, was a sense of relief. Structure, including State and program standards, curriculum, materials in the classroom, and approaches to childcare and pedagogy, had dominated my working hours. CLASS was a lot to learn, but for me, it was a breath of fresh air. Observing with CLASS meant I could set aside my obsession with all things structural – which encompassed my thoughts every time I walked into an early childhood classroom.
Decades of evidence indicate that high-quality early childhood education positively affects children. Yet studies reveal that too few programs implement high-quality programming. To date, improvement efforts have primarily focused on what occurs within the classroom. The Ounce of Prevention Fund (Ounce), in partnership with the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research (UChicago Consortium), strives to broaden the focus of improvement efforts beyond the classroom to organizational conditions that support teachers and the relationships among staff, children, and families.