I recently completed a Train-The-Trainer program with an enthusiastic and well-prepared group of CLASS observers. Yet, despite their status as certified CLASS observers, several of them were identifying basic conversational exchanges as feedback loops.
As I worked with them to explain the difference, one participant looked up and said, “There are back-and-forth exchanges in both Quality of Feedback and Language Modeling; How do you distinguish between them?”
“Great question!” I said as I turned to the group and asked who was up for a role-play. Fortunately, someone was game. Here is what I did to illustrate the difference:
Me: “What did you have for breakfast this morning?”
Participant: “Oh. I had a very good breakfast. I had bacon and eggs, toast and fruit.”
Me: “Wow! That sounds like a great breakfast.”
Participant: “It was. It was a very good breakfast.”
Me: “Is that what you normally eat for breakfast?”
Participant: “Well, I do like to have bacon and eggs when I can.”
Me: “Geez. I usually just eat oatmeal & have a glass of juice for breakfast. “
Participant: “Not me. I like to start my day with a big breakfast.”
Me: “That sounds delicious. I might have to join you for breakfast tomorrow.”
Participant: “Feel free to join me.”
I turned to the group and asked if we had just engaged in a back-and-forth exchange. They all nodded their heads yes. I then asked if it was a feedback loop or a general conversation. When the group could not reach consensus, I had them turn to the face page for Quality of Feedback to read the definition (pg. 69). I then said, “Yes, there was a back-and-forth exchange, but did it meet the intent of Quality of Feedback? Did it increase the participant’s learning or understanding?” I could see the light bulbs starting to go off.
This brief role-play effectively illustrated the difference between conversational back-and-forth exchanges and those that occur during feedback loops. Remember, feedback loops serve to expand learning. I was the only person who learned something in that exchange. I learned that I really should have eaten breakfast with that participant!
How do you help your participants understand feedback loops?
The time has come for hard conversations.
That’s the feedback we have been receiving from educators across the country. There are plenty of tough conversations educators are trained, taught, or feel equipped to handle with children and families - gently bringing up a developmental concern, facilitating a disagreement between students, or explaining what happened with the classroom goldfish are all part of a day in the life. But in the last year, since the killing of George Floyd and other Black people at the hands of police, educators are increasingly asking for help in communicating more comfortably with young children about diversity and difference.
We’re still soaking up the wisdom shared by our many, many excellent speakers at the spring 2021 InterAct Summit. From its inception, Teachstone has been an organization based in research. Because the CLASS is reliable and valid, teachers and programs trust it to give meaningful, accurate, and actionable information. To learn more about the current work being done in the field, we invited co-founder Bob Pianta to give an update on new research findings.
I was supposed to be an architect, instead I was a teacher of young children; it felt like my calling.
When I started my coursework, they tasked me with visiting multiple classrooms. It overwhelmed me when in some classrooms, children were crying, teachers were frustrated, and no one seemed to enjoy the day. I thought I had made a mistake. Thankfully, I had a professor who inspired me to continue. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the behaviors I observed in both children and teachers, the professor charged me to uncover the root of those behaviors.
And so, my journey to support social-emotional development began.
At Teachstone, we are all in on early learning. The research shows us that, with the help of effective educators, there is so much potential to build a strong foundation for children’s learning well before elementary school. But some research, including the Head Start Impact Study and the research on Tennessee’s voluntary pre-K, has complicated the story. Researchers found that in some cases, gains made in early childhood education seemed to fade out by around third grade.
Follow-up research has added to the narrative.