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.
How have children’s social and emotional needs changed this year?
That’s one of the major concerns Teachstone has been hearing from leaders and educators across the country. Even before the pandemic, teachers in early childhood settings, elementary school, and beyond had increasingly been paying attention to children’s self-regulation, social skills, and other emotional needs. With so much turmoil and loss, what has shifted? How can educators prepare to support children? And...how can leaders prepare to support their teaching staff?
To tackle these questions, we brought together Amanda Alexander, VP of Policy and Partnership Development at Teachstone; Bridget Hamre, Co-Founder and CEO at Teachstone; Gene Pinkard, Aspen Institute Director of Practice and Leadership; and Bloodine Barthelus, Director of Practice Innovations at CASEL. Our experts shared the principles they think are most important for social-emotional learning, the challenges they’re anticipating, and how thoughtful instructional leaders are rolling out new social-emotional initiatives.
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.
To those in the education world, it’s not news that our schools, our systems, and our students are struggling. For nearly 40 years, since the publication of A Nation At Risk, we’ve recognized as a country that something isn’t working.
For more than a century after the United States’ colonization, school was intended for children who were overwhelmingly wealthy, white, male, and English-speaking - those demographics are no longer the case. Students today are representative of all our nation’s families, but our history means there’s a mismatch between what education has done up to this point and what children really need. What’s more, advances in science - psychology, medicine,
neuroscience, economics, and more - have shown us that to give children the greatest opportunity we must change what we’re doing. We can’t let another 40 years pass while we figure it out.
Since 2018, over 10,000 educators and counting have enrolled in a CDA with CLASS® program. That’s a milestone in and of itself. But when you zoom out, it means that tens of thousands of children are now cared for by these professionals. And, when you think of the number of meaningful, high-quality interactions that happen each and every day? It’s not unreasonable to think that there are a hundred thousand or more brain-building moments that happen daily because learners have enrolled in a CDA with CLASS program.