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 adults’ 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 adult’s 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 structures that support quality educator-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?
Ready for 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 online program, CDA (Child Development Associate) with CLASS. A 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.
Receive timely updates delivered straight to your inbox.
State policymakers have an exciting opportunity to level the playing field for early childhood education with thoughtful system design using the newly released Preschool Development Grant Birth to Five, also known as PDG B-5. This grant provides funding to State early childhood agencies’ to strengthen early childhood systems. In particular, a portion of PDG B-5 funding is targeted for Renewal Grants—24 out of 25 eligible states are expected to be awarded funding for PDG B-5 Renewal Grants. These Renewal Grants will provide three consecutive years of funding to support activities and implementation in each state.
If you've ever been through a CLASS Observation training, you are probably familiar with the graphic below. Research tells us that improving teacher-child interactions is a process that includes many pieces.
The first step is to identify a teacher’s strengths and opportunities for growth, which can be done through a CLASS observation. Once you have this data, you can share it with teachers through a formal report, a face-to-face conference, or a feedback session. You’re off to a great start, but now what?
Moving towards a post-pandemic world, early childhood education is still in a fractured state of recovery. Numerous headlines define the inequitable foundation early childhood system is built on that limits educators’ capacity to thrive and impact children’s lives. Yet demand for early learning remains steadfast as families get back to routines in communities everywhere. How do policymakers start to level the playing field for early childhood programs with equitable policies while increasing access for families in need of high-quality care?
Originally published December 22, 2016
Regard for Student Perspectives as defined by CLASS® is“the degree to which the teacher’s interactions with students and classroom activities place an emphasis on students’ interests, motivations, and points of view and encourage student responsibility and autonomy.” This often looks like following children's lead so that you can anticipate their needs during an activity.
Understanding how to effectively employ CLASS's Regard for Student Perspectives while maintaining a constructive learning environment can be challenging. In the following paragraphs the fictional preschool professional, Mrs. Jones, will illustrate the indicators of Regard for Student Perspectives at circle time. I’ll then discuss her exemplary examples: