“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.
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When I was a teacher, I can remember taking care to intentionally plan differentiated, or individualized, instruction. And, when I was teaching pre-K I added the same level of intentionality to which materials were available in interest areas, and how I approached transitions throughout the day.
While any level of intentionally, specifically in relation to planning, is important -- I missed a critical opportunity in being more intentional in my interactions with the children in my class.
There is always an opportunity for interaction. Some opportunities are easily recognizable: times of play, free choice, centers, small group. We often see teachers engaged in activities alongside children during these times or hear questions being asked. Other opportunities might be a little less obvious. These are the times of your day that you might see as mundane moments that merely require your supervision or monitoring. The times where you’re going through the motions. “I’m doing this thing so I can move on to the next thing.”
In a previous blog, colleague and early childhood environment extraordinaire, Heather Sason, discussed how your classroom environment can help promote effective teacher-child interactions. In this blog, I propose we explore some of the often overlooked times in your day that are ripe for interactions with children and that do promote exploration, learning, and development!
It's not uncommon for teachers in early education to need to strike a balance between following children's leads and sticking to the classroom schedule. We know that intentional teachers are aware of their responsibility to assess student progress, understand skill mastery, and plan accordingly to provide opportunities for children to grow. However, many times, as teachers begin a specific teacher-directed activity, it is unsettling when students begin to veer from the step-by-step plans the teacher has worked hard to implement.
Teacher and coach, Colleen Schmit, will share how teachers can strike the balance between following the lesson plans and giving children freedom of choice and flexibility in the classroom.
As an educator, you’re busy. Your time is being split by competing priorities, from managing students’ needs, meeting your program’s goals, and communicating with parents. While you’re juggling your work, it can be difficult to keep learning about important ways to improve your daily teaching practice. Teachstone is here to help!