I’m often asked how teachers can improve the quality of their interactions around Instructional Support. That’s good! What’s not “good” is that we can’t just focus on one thing. We should consider how ALL the CLASS dimensions need to be in place in order to really provide effective interactions for Instructional Support.
So, how can you improve Instructional Support in the classroom by focusing on HOW you interact with children?
Start with your children. Get to know them, inspire feelings of safety and trust. Show them you are interested in them, listen—focus on what they are saying to you with words or behavior.
Provide an organized classroom that allows plenty of time for you to interact with them. Use interesting materials or modalities to draw their interest in so you can capitalize on the teachable moments.
Every day, all day, children tell us what they need by their behavior, their responses to us–our job is to be good at noticing these messages. Highly effective teacher-child interactions are essentially Developmentally Appropriate Practice. Teachers just need to take a moment, observe, and respond.
Let’s think about a few dimensions that are the springboard for Instructional Support:
When teachers are aware of children’s understanding or challenges with a task, an idea, or a concept, they can provide scaffolding to help the child understand.
When teachers seek out the children’s ideas, points-of-view, or interests, they can shape their planning around the concepts that the children are ready to learn about.
When teachers actively facilitate children’s engagement they set the stage for focused learning.
Start by connecting with your kids. Learn about who they are and what they know or don’t know about how the world works. Be sensitive to their needs both emotionally and academically. Adjust your plan to meet their needs.
Provide a chaos free environment by having interesting materials, a clear flow to the day, and minimal waiting throughout the day. Notice what they play with, how they use materials, and what captures their imagination.
For example, here are three Instructional Support areas you can focus on, as well as an example for how to incorporate them into your classroom:
Instructional support interactions matter and you have many opportunities throughout the day to do just that! Interact, pay attention, respond to the children where they are, and take it to the next level with intentional responses. You will find your time with children will be more engaging and fun!
It’s Dual Language Learner Celebration Week! Every year in the U.S., the amount of young children who live in a household where a language other than English is spoken has been steadily increasing. As of 2016, about one-third of children under age 8 – over 11 million children – are dual language learners (DLLs).
As an infant classroom teacher, you know that talking to babies is important. For instance, you tell the infants in your care what they are looking at (“You see the new block basket on the shelf!”). You label objects (“You have the red ball!”). And you describe events that take place in the classroom (“The tray just fell off the table! That scared you.”). These are all examples of talking with babies. Why, then, can it be so challenging to do this consistently in the classroom?
A few years into teaching early childhood, I applied to work at a school that does incredible work in the local community. I was thrilled to get an interview but realized very quickly that, even though the environment was supportive and the students were wonderful young people, I was much too intimidated to work there.