“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.
Empowering and equipping coaches with the information and resources they need to mentor also empowers the teachers they're coaching. Check out these coaching resources that discuss how to provide feedback based on CLASS data, how to prepare teachers for a CLASS observation, and much more.
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!