When I went through the Pre-K CLASS Observation training, I struggled scoring the Instructional Support (IS) domain. I generally gave higher scores than the master coders … but why? I saw a ton of interactions and conversations; however, after lengthy discussions, it was determined that the interactions were actually quite low-level and did not truly promote higher-order thinking. In the end, I was giving too much weight to the more rote IS interactions. I am hearing that I am not the only one, so I wanted to highlight this issue and discuss it further.
With MyTeachingPartner (MTP) coaching, we start our IS coaching with Quality of Feedback as a beginning step towards interactions that move away from rote instruction and into more meaningful conversations to help reach a deeper understanding. Even if the end goal is to increase Concept Development, it can help to begin with Quality of Feedback. Effective Concept Development happens through activities and discussions, so that effective feedback must be there for us to really see depth and duration.
I have seen the following scenario many times when observing a classroom circle time:
Teacher and children are all sitting in a circle. Teacher points to the letter poster asking, “What letter is this?” Children, “A.” The teacher may attempt to prompt the thought process by asking, “How did you know that?” Children look at teacher and respond, “Cuz it’s an A”.
Pause and ask yourself, “Is this rote or does it promote?” Can you really think about why an A is an A? No. We were trained to know things like our colors, numbers, letters, etc. This is rote questioning: asking a question that has one answer.
Now, take a look at the video: Asking a Child to Explain His Thinking from the Teachstone Video Library. This is a great scenario of the teacher intentionally prompting the children’s thought process about alphabet letters. Same concept (alphabet knowledge) as the above example, but done in a more effective way. This also shows how the Quality of Feedback dimension has the potential to build on stronger Concept Development.
In this activity, the children are guessing which letter of the alphabet is covered. After a child guesses correctly, the teacher sees the opportunity and asks, “How do you know?” When the child responds, "'Cause," the teacher persists, repeating, "How do you know?" The child is then able to express his strategy, saying, "Because, you would say A-B-C."
Send me your thoughts on the differences between the two examples. How does the second scenario provide the children the opportunity to think through the learning process? What other scenarios are you seeing like this in the classrooms you are observing? How are you helping your teachers to think, “Is it rote or does it promote?”
Check out my previous blog, If I Could Turn Back Time”: How the CLASS Tool Changed the Way I Coach Teachers.
Calvary City Academy & Preschool closed on March 13, along with most programs in Florida. While closed, we had much to prepare for reopening. While children were home, we prepared packets to send home, met with children virtually, and even hosted things like field day, spirit week, and graduation virtually! Even with those successes, we were so happy to be able to return to being in-person when we reopened in June. Since June, we’ve learned a lot. Here’s what’s working for us:
Across the country and around the globe, schools/programs will soon reopen after extended closures due to COVID-19. Those that have remained open are instituting new health and safety practices.. Localities will determine whether to provide in-person, online, or hybrid teaching. Regardless of the model that schools/programs adopt, classrooms will look different now and for the foreseeable future.
When I first learned about CLASS Group Coaching—a training for early childhood professionals about building relationships with children—I was more than a little interested. This, I thought. This is what teaching is all about. It seems to be an obvious concept, but once we dig deeper, we are able to identify the whys and hows of our interactions. CLASS Group Coaching allows us to identify the benefits of our classroom relationships with our students and helps us be intentional in our daily practices. It allows us to utilize each moment we have with our students to deepen our understanding of their perspectives and genuinely connect with them as people. It helps us see the world from their view and guide their learning in a way that is relevant to them.
Since the coronavirus has disrupted many of our in-person plans, you might be trying to figure out how you can transition in-person coaching to online coaching. Online coaching can open a number of doors for coaches and teachers that might not be an option in face-to-face work.