Editor’s Note: There are several ways to approach coding in a mixed-age setting. Teachstone’s official recommendation when observing in multi-age settings is to alternate between two age levels in order to capture the experiences of most children and produce independent scores between the age levels. That being said, we are interested in hearing how other organizations approach observations. Which approach you choose depends on lots of factors, like the purpose of the observation, and time or money constraints.
Sometimes people ask how to do CLASS observations in groups that cross two or more age groups. I’ve been working in a statewide project that is collecting data and giving feedback with family child care providers.
There can be up to three or four age groups in family child care settings: infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary children on school vacation days and afterschool hours. It’s difficult to code when there is such a diverse group of kids to observe. How do you do it?
In my experiences with multi-age settings, I’ve found that it’s best to go with the majority. I include qualitative feedback about all age groups, but those comments aren’t included in the scoring. I score based on which age group is most prevalent during the observation.
Even though it might be difficult to observe in mixed-aged settings, the CLASS lens works well because the age group dimensions connect so well to one another! The Early Language Support dimension in the Infant CLASS tool leads to the dimension of Language Modeling dimension in the Toddler, Pre-K, and K-3 CLASS tools.
Mary Lu Love directs several grant-funded programs through the Institute for Community Inclusion at UMass Boston, teaches early childhood courses at UMass Boston, and works on a number of early childhood collaborations. She has 40+ years of experience teaching and administering in early childhood programs. She has taught in higher education part-time for 20+ years, and helped to develop the early childhood undergraduate degree program at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She is also a long-standing member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Teachers everywhere have yet another new challenge—supporting students and their families from home. We know that high-quality interactions, including interesting, hands-on experiences that are facilitated and supported with feedback, scaffolding, and higher-order thinking questions, best support young students' learning. So how do you help your students' caregivers offer the same high-quality interactions while at home? Well, Rachel Giannini has some super fun ideas to share! The following are ideas she shared during her session at our recent InterAct CLASS Summit.
As an infant classroom teacher, you know that talking to babies is important. For instance, you tell the infants in your care what they are looking at (“You see the new block basket on the shelf!”). You label objects (“You have the red ball!”). And you describe events that take place in the classroom (“The tray just fell off the table! That scared you.”). These are all examples of talking with babies. Why, then, can it be so challenging to do this consistently in the classroom?
We all know people are naturally social beings—we need interactions to survive. But just because we’re naturally social doesn’t mean we know how to be social. We have to learn social behaviors—from our families, caregivers, and peers. Teachers play a key role in promoting social development, which includes peer play and friendships.
As a Certified CLASS Affiliate Trainer, I enjoy reading the discussion posts and responses in the CLASS Learning Community. It gives me further insight into the areas that teachers have questions about, and the responses and techniques that members of the community are sharing with others. Usually I just sit back, read along, and take it all in.
Then recently someone posted, “I'd love some great examples of what Quality of Feedback looks like when you're working with less verbal children. For instance... creating an effective feedback loop off of what a child does more so than what he or she says.”