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October Affiliate Trainer Spotlight: Gilles Cantin

25 Oct 2016 by Sarah Hadden

This month’s spotlight is turned to Gilles Cantin, a professor in the Didactique Department at the University of Quebec in Montreal. Gilles is one of our growing numbers of international Affiliate Trainers. He has been embedding the CLASS into his work as a teacher educator and a researcher for over six years and is an Affiliate Trainer on both Pre-K and K-3 CLASS. When I contacted Gilles to see if he would allow us to profile him he said that he did not like to put himself on stage, but was happy to share information about how he is using the CLASS. 

How did you first learn about the CLASS and what motivated you to include it in your work?
Approximately 8 years ago, I had to evaluate a program that aims to facilitate the transition to school for 4-year-old children. In this project, it was important to take into account the quality of interactions in Pre-K classes. When we searched the web, we quickly realized that a very useful tool has already been developed, the CLASS. I particularly appreciate its organization in ten distinct dimensions.

You worked with Teachstone to translate the Pre-K Dimension Guide into French (Guides des Dimensions). How well did key concepts from the tool translate into French?
The CLASS translates very well in French. The concepts present in the CLASS easily find correspondence in the French context. People involved in preschool, whether in schools or childcare settings, easily adhere to the tool.

You used the CLASS in a professional development study with teachers of 4-year-old children. What did you learn?
CLASS enabled teachers to share a same language, a same vision to observe and to reflect on their practice. This has been invaluable in our project to establish common goals. We also learned that it takes time and coaching to help teachers change some attitudes or less effective practices. Moreover, it proved easier to make improvements in some dimensions such as Regard for Student Perspectives, by changing the offered activities structures.

How have you embedded the CLASS into your work with pre-service teachers?
The CLASS and its dimensions are now covered in a basic course for early childhood educators. Students buy the translated version of the CLASS Dimension Guide and, during workshops conducted in class, they are invited to reflect on their own practice.

I know that you are currently involved in a pilot program with the Ministère de la Famille for the Province of Quebec. Can you tell me a little about this project?
This is a very interesting project, where our research team has the opportunity to experience an intervention that aims to promote the evaluation and improvement of educational quality in childcare settings. The CLASS is the main tool used to account for the educational quality of those settings. With the help and permission of Teachstone, we translated the training materials to be able to offer it in French. Also, still within the pilot project, we adapted and produced other tools to assess physical space quality, teaching staff planning and observation practices, and the interactions between parents and staff. Currently, as this is a pilot project, only groups of children from 3 to 5 years old settings are involved. We have started the pilot of this evaluation process in 60 childcare settings. Each of them will receive a personalized report with the main findings of our team concerning the childcare setting’s educational quality.

The Ministère’s intention is to implement this approach for all childcare settings in Quebec. The final and global report to be written after the pilot will help the Ministère to continue its deliberation on whether to implement the CLASS across the Province.

Would you like to be featured in our monthly Affiliate Trainer Spotlight? Send an email to sarah.hadden@teachstone.com and we'll be in touch!

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