While preparing for a recent presentation on "My CLASS Philosophy," I had many thoughts running through my head. There was no firm agenda that I was asked to follow, just to share my philosophy. Coming from a business background, I did what I have been trained to do—a SWOT Analysis. According to Wikipedia, a SWOT Analysis or SWOT matrix is:
A strategic planning technique used to help a person or organization identify the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats related to business competition or project planning. It is intended to specify the objectives of the business venture or project and identify the internal and external factors that are favorable and unfavorable to achieving those objectives.
In order to generate the meaningful information for each category, I used some parallel processes and began a brainstorming activity. I listed anything and everything that I could think of when it came to myself, my business, the childcare industry, and CLASS. Below is the SWOT Analysis that I developed:
In order to identify my strengths, as previously mentioned, I did a brainstorm analysis and quickly identified that two of the ways in which I am able to do what I do (wear the many hats I wear) is by staying organized and having an innate drive to deliver the best.
The same can be said for my list of opportunities. When I detail out what opportunities exist within my work, it helps me define goals and develop an organized vision to accomplish.
In Louisiana, we use a similar tool after CLASS observations, allowing us to share the teachers' strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for growth. This has been an incredibly useful tool for me both personally and professionally. I encourage everyone to take advantage of this technique!
Paula Polito is the owner/director of a child care center in the Greater New Orleans area. She currently serves as the chair of the Early Childhood Advisory Board for the Louisiana Department of Education, education chair for the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, and is on the Core Leadership team for the Jefferson Parish Early Childhood Collaborative. Paula also is a member of the CLASS Community Advisory Board.
Many teachers will agree that their first year of teaching can be one of the most grueling, challenging, and stressful experiences for them as they take on the task of educating our youth. In my first year of teaching, I was not familiar with the CLASS tool and its impact in the classroom. I was not aware of the dimensions, indicators, and the tremendous power of interactions. Looking back, I recognize the many ways the CLASS tool was reflected in my classroom, but I also see the value in how familiarity with the CLASS tool could have benefitted my classroom. Although many external forces impacted my role as a high school Spanish teacher, the CLASS tool’s invaluable purpose could have made a profound impact on my first year teaching.
In construction, a scaffold is a temporary structure used by workers to access heights and areas that are hard to get to. This is exactly what educators are doing when they scaffold for students. A student is having a hard time reaching a new height—understanding a concept, answering a question, or completing an activity—and the teacher provides just enough support to allow the student to succeed.
A year ago, urged on by my insightful new colleague, Manda Klein, who was born and raised in Texas, I wrote a blog entitled, At Our Core. It praised the bipartisan efforts to discontinue the practice of separating children from their parents and caregivers at our country’s borders.