DEAR MISS MATTERS:
I did a CLASS observation in a classroom where it was evident that the teacher and students enjoyed their time together, but I didn’t necessarily see many overt expressions of smiling and laughter. Are “grins and giggles” necessary for a high-range Positive Climate score?
It is important to remember that teachers are individuals with varying styles and demeanors. Their interactions don’t always have to be full of grins and giggles to be considered positive. This is especially important to keep in mind when using the CLASS measure to code older age levels, as the way that teachers relate to older students often differs dramatically from how they relate to younger children (and for good reason).
However, as CLASS observers, we do want to look for evidence that the teacher’s facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language show enjoyment and convey genuine interest and enthusiasm during interactions. A classroom high in Positive Climate is a warm and pleasant place where relationships between teachers and students and among students can thrive.
Across the nation, teachers learning about CLASS are asked to narrate their actions and sportscast their children’s experiences in order to support and encourage healthy language development. Hearing this, many teachers may wonder, “Will people think I’m crazy if I start talking to myself in the classroom?”
The answer is no. Self- and parallel talk are beneficial strategies for teachers to engage in because they strengthen language rich environments and enhance vocabulary development, all while supporting effective relationship building between teachers and children.
I recently heard a great analogy about the CLASS tool and I had to share it. I can’t take credit for the idea. Affiliate Trainer, Teresa Bockes, originated the concept, and I loved it the minute I heard it: CLASS is like a house. Let’s build a house step-by-step to learn more about this metaphor.