Can we talk about structure? When CLASS entered my life, I was 20 years into my career in the field of early childhood education. What I remember most about that initial training, besides the nervousness about an impending reliability test, was a sense of relief. Structure, including State and program standards, curriculum, materials in the classroom, and approaches to childcare and pedagogy, had dominated my working hours. CLASS was a lot to learn, but for me, it was a breath of fresh air. Observing with CLASS meant I could set aside my obsession with all things structural – which encompassed my thoughts every time I walked into an early childhood classroom.
For me, though, focusing on the process, or what adults do within a program structure as defined by the CLASS dimensions, revealed an all too true reality. The classroom structure present in any given program has a strong influence on adult’s interactions with the children in their care. While a thoughtful program structure may encourage rich adult-child interactions, many approaches to early childhood program delivery hinder an adults’ ability to interact effectively.
We are often stuck with structural issues that are challenging or impossible to change. An example that comes to mind is building structure; the bathrooms, for instance, are down a school hallway. Or, staffing may dictate the need to move the children in large groups. Sometimes, we are convinced it is easier to accomplish a routine with the entire group of toddlers so that the room will all nap or eat or play on the same schedule. It takes creativity, and adult buy-in to make structural changes.
Acknowledging the effect structure is having on the process is a significant first step. Making changes to program structure that support quality teacher-child interactions takes being willing to stick to it for longer than a week, or even two weeks, to see meaningful results. Are you interested in improving the structure of your program? Small steps you can take to affect change in the short term include:
Ready for more long term, meaningful change? Consider professional development opportunities for your classroom staff that blends the process of CLASS-based interactions with appropriate program structure. Check out our new, online program, CDA (Child Development Associate) with CLASS. Basic understanding of the CLASS tool is integrated into course learning experiences, with an emphasis on positive relationships and interactions in early childhood education settings. CDA with CLASS is available at two levels: Pre-K and Infant-Toddler.
Are you heading to InterAct next week? Consider joining me to talk more about structure and process, and CDA with CLASS!
CLASS allows us to quantify the quality of teacher-child interactions—and that is a powerful thing. But improving child outcomes takes more than just data collection; it’s what you do with the data that really matters.
Here are 4 things you should know about using data to improve student outcomes.
It’s been a great year. You have just conducted some professional development trainings for the group of teachers you are coaching. You got the opportunity to visit their classrooms and see them in action, do formal and informal CLASS observations, and had countless coaching conversations. You see that it’s all beginning to click. You have the teachers’ buy-in, and the motivation is high.
Image: Edward Zigler, assisted by Marilyn M. Smith, presents the first CDA Credential to Margaret E. Wright on July 24, 1975, in Washington, DC (Source - Council for Professional Recognition).
For 54 years, Head Start has prepared children for Kindergarten by providing services that foster growth in their physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development. In the words of former President Obama, “For millions of families, Head Start has been a lifeline. And for millions of kids, it’s been the start of a better life.”
Before the 2019 InterAct Class Summit in Nashville was even over, we were already excitedly planning 2020! But before we get too ahead of ourselves, let's take a quick look back at the incredible presenters, attendees, and staff that made 2019 possible. We had nearly 400 participants from all backgrounds—teachers, caregivers, mentors, coaches, trainers, implementation leaders, administrators, assessors, researchers, and more. However, their common passion for improving classroom interactions and empowering life-changing teachers was evident.