I recently had the pleasure of spending a Sunday at the NHSA Fall Leadership Institute conference in Arlington, Virginia. During a full-day session on deepening understanding of the CLASS system, we took a close look at the Instructional Support domain, while considering strategies to help increase the effectiveness of teacher-child interactions.

Toward the end of the day, one participant had an important take-away moment about the CLASS domains:

  • Emotional Support means I’m there with you.
  • Classroom Organization means I’m prepared for you.
  • Instructional Support means I’m here to learn with you.

Although we were reflecting specifically about the inter-relationship between the dimensions as they applied to classrooms, it occurred to me that as we build teacher effectiveness, the construct of the CLASS framework applies to teacher-coach interactions as well.

It's can be challenging to look at our classroom interactions in a new way or make feedback based on CLASS data "real" in our day-to-day professional lives. It can feel like a “gotcha” when what we really intend is “I’ve got you!”—in other words, I'm here to help!

Before a teacher will trust us enough to really hear feedback on what is occurring during those moment-to-moment exchanges that happen throughout the day, that teacher needs to trust us. We do that by establishing relationships, being sensitive to needs, and listening to find out where they are coming from. With this information we can provide feedback that builds on teachers’ strengths, thereby providing emotional support.

Once we build trust, we need to help improve the effectiveness of classroom interactions. Do we provide clear objectives? Do we give examples and activities to engage the teacher in meaningful interchanges that focus on the key elements of each dimension and its impact on a child’s experience? Do we have everything ready, such as the Video Library and discussion questions? If so, we are demonstrating classroom organization.

Finally, do we build knowledge through back-and-forth exchanges and by asking "how" and "why" questions? Do we support and facilitate understanding by developing conceptual knowledge of the CLASS measure? Do we enhance this by providing feedback, information, and specific affirmation of what is being promoted through these conversations? Do we use the common language of the tool to discuss the markers and indicators that build more effective classrooms? If so, we are providing meaningful instructional support.

All of this takes planning, relationships, and intentionality. If you’d like to know more, consider watching our webinar, Using CLASS Data to Provide Effective Feedback.


Editor's note: this post was originally posted in October, 2013. 


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