Have you ever meditated? One of the most challenging aspects of this practice is clearing your mind from day-to-day thoughts that pop into your head. If you meditate, you know that trying to push those thoughts away doesn’t work—in order to free your mind you must first acknowledge those distracting thoughts before you can return to your “moment of zen.”
This might sound funny, but the challenge of conducting objective CLASS observations can be a lot like this. This idea occurred to me a couple months back when I observed an observation training conducted by one of our talented affiliate trainers. She encouraged her participants to keep a sticky note handy during their training videos, and every time a subjective thought or feeling popped in their heads (“I hate this lesson!”), they would write it down and move on. Rather than push it aside, she showed them that the best way to deal with observation bias is to acknowledge you have it—and then intentionally resist the temptation to allow subjective information to influence your scoring.
Taking this a step beyond the observation training and into the field, this is a good strategy for keeping yourself honest, and a fair way to learn more about your own personal biases. So whether you are participating in observation training for the first time, observing in the field, or simply trying to remain objective in any other context—try writing down your bias on a sticky note! Just like when we meditate, we’re more successful when we acknowledge what we are trying to avoid, rather than refusing to admit those thoughts or biases exist.
Observers—we’d love to hear your tips for staying objective in your CLASS observations! Share your expertise and add them to the comments below.
As the Community Manager with Teachstone, I have been able to talk to many observers, trainers, coaches, and general CLASS lovers. I have found a common thread among these groups: a desire to connect with other CLASS users and put their CLASS knowledge to use.
We often hear from CLASS Observers that are interested in observing more classrooms. Meanwhile, many organizations—particularly smaller organizations or those doing research studies—don’t have Certified CLASS Observers and are in search of observers in their area.
If you're a CLASS observer, you've probably found yourself in a situation where you have to make inferences or rely on contextual evidence when assigning scores. However, it should always be your goal to minimize subjectivity and assumptions. You have to prevent your emotions, opinions, and ideas that are not a part of the CLASS tool from influencing scoring. Achieving an emotionless state of objectivity while observing can be incredibly challenging. It takes practice to recognize when objectivity is threatened and respond accordingly.