This month, I had a chance to interview MMCI Instructor, Shawn Kaplan. In her time as an MMCI Instructor so far, she has facilitated an impressive number of teacher cohorts, impacted CLASS scores, and has some insightful reflections for new instructors.
Tell me a little about yourself and your background in Early Childhood Education.
I have been in the ECE field for 21 years--that's a long time! My professional journey has provided me with a range of opportunities from classroom teacher up through directorship for an infant through pre-K program. The highlight of my career, by far, has been getting introduced to CLASS and using this knowledge to coach teachers in a variety of programs across California.
Tell me about your experience with MMCI and your journey in becoming a certified instructor.
As with much of life, I was in the right place at the right time and had an opportunity to attend MMCI training with Jacquelynn, from Teachstone. At the time, I wasn’t sure what I had signed up for; however, the colleague who told me about it had me at "CLASS." I didn’t even understand that the training would prepare me to become an instructor until the end of my first training day! Once I completed the training, I was more in love with CLASS than ever before. I was also at a great loss: How was I going to ever find enough teachers to train to achieve my certification? Thankfully, it all worked out, and then some.
What are some of the challenges you faced facilitating MMCI and how did you overcome them?
My first challenge was figuring out the content, slides, and pacing of the teacher training I had to deliver. Session one went well over time and I quickly realized I needed to pick up the pacing and make detailed notes by the minute. Another challenging aspect was that I started off conducting four MMCI cohorts per week; one on Wednesday and three on Friday. This meant I had just one day in between to reflect and smooth out any bumps. Because of my schedule, I overcame these challenges through trial and error. When a session went well, I learned to repeat the same flow for the next groups later in the week. And when I had to adjust on the spot, I did!
Can you tell me a success you have seen as a result of MMCI? A specific “ah ha” moment from a teacher?
I have seen several successes over the course of delivering ten MMCI-teacher cohorts. Here of some of my favorite responses to MMCI:
I am also incredibly proud to have been part of a larger project that included MMCI and has received data showing that the teachers who completed my cohorts impacted score changes, raising the bar on the national average across all CLASS domains.
What is your biggest takeaway from facilitating MMCI?
My biggest takeaway from facilitating MMCI (so far) is the powerful impact you can make as a facilitator on your teachers. By engaging in parallel process and adjusting each session to meet the specific needs of your group through relatable examples--you can make a huge difference in their teaching practices and in the lives of the children in their classrooms.
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.
Even top athletes rely on the support of a coach to improve their game. Players need coaches to help identify their unique strengths and grow their talents while increasing their skills in areas of challenge. To do all this, coaches spend lots of time observing athletes while they practice—giving real-time feedback based on current efforts, breaking skills down as needed to cultivate mastery, and encouraging players to keep trying in pursuit of their goals.
CLASS allows us to quantify the quality of teacher-child interactions—and that is a powerful thing. But improving child outcomes takes more than just data collection; it’s what you do with the data that really matters.
Here are 4 things you should know about using data to improve student outcomes.