In our earliest implementations, when Teachstone was just being formed, we often heard that teachers were caught off guard by CLASS-based professional development. Trainers were hearing questions like “What am I doing here?” “Why was I asked to attend?” and “How does this relate to my other professional growth activities?” We quickly learned that teachers and professional development providers need to be on the same page about goals. Sometimes goals for teacher-child interactions are set at the program level; sometimes they are set for individual teachers. Either way, everyone needs to be clear on what they are reaching for.
Common wisdom suggests that you should set goals based on a teacher’s ability level. Goals that are too easy aren’t motivating; goals that are too challenging are discouraging. People have long thought that the relationship between goals and motivation to reach those goals looked like this:
In other words, the best goals are well-matched to each teacher—not too easy, not too hard.
But it’s not entirely true! Studies have shown that people are actually more motivated by challenging goals  - as long as the goal is attainable, the more challenging it is, the better! The real relationship between goals and motivation looks more like this:
The key is to set a challenging goal, then identify actionable steps to reach the goal. The steps can be matched to the teacher’s level, but the goal should be challenging enough to give him or her something to really stretch for.
More information on how to actually do this - set challenging goals to improve teacher-child interactions - can be found in CLASS Feedback Strategies.
How do you approach goal-setting with teachers? Do you really work to challenge your colleagues? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
1. Locke, E. A. & Latham, G. P. (2002). Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation: A 35-year odyssey. American Psychologist, 57, 705-7.
At Teachstone, we talk to a lot of educators. From coast to coast and around the globe, there’s a common thread that unites them: wanting to be better for their students.
Even when things are tough in education, even in years made even more challenging by the pandemic and its effects on teaching and learning, educators are striving to be their best. That dedication to equitable, ongoing development is what inspires Teachstone’s work. To reach the day when all children are afforded excellent education and care, it’s going to take a systematic, data-driven approach, and we are enthusiastic partners in getting there.
Hey there, Teachstone community! My name is Stephanie Lewandowski, and I am the Senior Product Manager for myTeachstone. Before joining Teachstone, I built digital products for education companies, financial institutions, and government agencies. I’m passionate about delivering impactful products, particularly the tools that make the everyday work of teaching and learning a little bit easier. As a parent, and as a product manager, I know how invaluable early childhood education is, and I’m inspired by the teachers in both my personal and professional life.
Did you know that over 12 million children in the United States (and more every year!) speak a language other than English at home? While the education workforce does not exactly parallel its students’ demographics, we know that many educators are also multilingual. That’s why Teachstone has resources available in both English and Spanish. All children deserve the individualized support and care that best fosters learning - and so do their caregivers and educators.
At Teachstone, our driving vision is to ensure every child experiences life-changing teaching. This mission is why we’re making a commitment to restabilize and improve education for every child, and every educator. And, we know that bringing this commitment to life requires providing education leaders with the support they need to not only face the current challenges, but that will propel towards the future of quality and equity.