I’ve been in the field of early childhood education for over 35 years and absolutely LOVE the CLASS tool. I wish I had CLASS during my years as a teacher and director of ECE programs. I am grateful to have the CLASS tool now to express my continual love for ECE and the importance of great teaching in the early years of children's lives.
As Professor of Child Development at Los Angeles Trade Technical College, I have started using the CLASS tool in all my ECE courses. I cover the CLASS tool with my students for about three weeks. During this time, I do a lot of lecturing to grasp what the tool measures and the concepts of quality interactions. Introducing them to the tool in such a short amount of time has been both revolutionary and revealing.
Before I could fully incorporate CLASS into my course, I had to take a step back and examine my own practice, measure the effectiveness of my teaching, and how I make the most of student time within my classroom. I even changed the format of seating in my lecture room to facilitate more social conversations. As a result of this small change, I noticed that students were chattier and began to learn more from each other.
As a part of introducing the CLASS tool, we watch and discuss videos from the Video Library. Before discussing the videos, I have my students write notes of the interactions they observed. I have noticed a vast improvement in their descriptions utilizing the CLASS lenses. Hearing them use the CLASS terminology with clear accurate examples has been the best part of my teaching since I implemented CLASS.
My students get just as excited as I am about CLASS. Even those who haven’t taken a prior ECE course experience similar reactions to the interactions in videos—such as disgust towards videos that show negative climate. In one clip in particular, my more experienced ECE students engaged in a conversation about why a teacher looked bored. It was great to get them focused on using the language CLASS utilizes like “matched affect” and “social conversation.” Using this common language helps us validate and emphasize the hard work we do in the ECE classrooms.
Introducing the CLASS to teachers in training has helped my students make sense of what children are learning and how we, as teachers, can be more effective. Now we have a tool that can help all ECE professionals raise the academic standards and emotional awareness of children. I have literally fallen in LOVE with CLASS and encourage other higher education ECE professionals to use the tool in their courses as well.
Dr. Rose Maina teaches Child Development classes at Los Angeles Trade Technical College and at other higher education institutions. Former Chair of Child Development 2002 to 2007. Elected member of the Academic Senate Rank Committee. She has also directed several ECE programs including Head Start and afterschool programs. She is an activist in the Early Education and Child Care field representing Child issues ranging from worthy wages for teachers of young children to child maltreatment. She is a participating member of several professional Early Education organizations including PEACH (Partnership for Education, Articulation and Coordination through Higher Education). Dr. Rose served as a First 5 LA CARES PLUS advisor for LAUP. She speaks publicly on topics ranging from strategic planning to goal achievement for non-profit and corporate events. Published author of 'Speaking of Success' (2007) with Jack Canfield, Stephen Covey and Ken Blanchard. Her current projects include writing a guide for Teachers of Young Children.
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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!
Last week we hosted Back to School with Meaningful Interactions, our first week-long free Teacher Series for nearly 4,000 early childhood educators. Each day attendees could choose from three 45-minute sessions that focused on what matters the most—meaningful classroom interactions.