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Ready, Set, Coach! Steps to Developing a Successful Coaching Model

01 Jun 2015 by Guest Blogger

We love hearing how organizations are using CLASS data to improve their teaching practices and interactions— and there isn't a one-size-fits-all model. In this post Teresa Oster, one of our ambassadors, explains how her colleagues from Head Start of Northeastern Nevada (HSNN) used CLASS data and their own coaching techniques to make some great improvements in their teacher-child interactions and CLASS scores. 

Over a three-year period, Head Start of Northeastern Nevada (HSNN) developed and implemented a collaborative coaching model using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) resulting in increased CLASS scores across all teachers and all CLASS domains. Even more importantly, the coaching model increased teachers’ confidence and creativity and resulted in frequent, high-quality teacher-child and peer interactions. 

Steps to a Successful Coaching Model

Let’s be totally honest; three years ago our initial goal, like many Head Start programs, was to make it through our monitoring review! However, the process in meeting that goal developed into something much more meaningful.

We chose CLASS because it was mandated; however, we now see so many benefits associated with CLASS that we would use it even if it weren’t mandated.


  • Identify and commit to our goals, including commitment from our governing bodies, parents, and staff. A precursor to their commitment was buy-in to make sure we had funding and infrastructures in place. 
  • Identify and create a data system as a method of measuring continuous improvement.
  • Make sure we were ready as an organization for the changes by assessing staff receptivity and preferred methods of receiving professional development. Introduce the CLASS tool to everyone on our staff.


  • Calibrate scoring across all three CLASS observers by double coding classrooms.
  • Collect baseline CLASS data on every classroom.


  • Meet with each teaching team and share observation notes to frame our discussion. (We made the decision to share CLASS scores within the context of national scores.)
  • Identify individual and collective strengths of the classroom team.
  • Establish individual and group professional development goals.
  • Provided hands-on training, examining the “practice” of instruction vs. activities.
  • Provide a written summary of observations and coaching provided after each observation cycle.
  • Ensure ongoing individualized CLASS support related to professional development goals were provided by the education manager.
  • Conduct weekly teacher peer mentoring sessions to discuss success/challenges of instructional strategies implemented by the teachers. 


  • We know that change doesn’t happen overnight. Collaborative CLASS-based coaching is conducted 3-4 times a year with weekly, ongoing support between observations.
  • CLASS is integrated into program-level systems and services, including written service area plans, policy and procedures—even hiring practices!
  • Ongoing data analyses and reporting inform practice.
  • Invite an outside consultant to conduct CLASS observations to validate scoring.

To create a coaching model that worked for us required combining our collective knowledge and professional experiences, trial and error, and a lot of hard work! We call our model “Collaborative CLASS Coaching” because it truly was a joint effort starting with a commitment from our governing bodies, the executive director, the education manager, the coaches, our Head Start state training and technical assistance manager, and every teacher and teaching assistant—even our kitchen staff participated. We cultivated a CLASS community.


First and foremost, children are receiving higher quality instruction, which was our ultimate goal!

Other results include:

  • Increase was seen in CLASS scores in all classrooms (scores ranging from .5 to 2.2 in 10 months, which is higher than expected, based on research).
  • Teachers are more confident in their abilities to deliver higher-level content.
  • Teacher’s creativity in developing high-level math and science activities has been amazing!
  • Children are more engaged in discussions and describing their thinking processes.
  • Parents report children are discussion newly learned concepts at home using advanced vocabulary, which may suggest children are retaining higher-level learning.

At Head Start of Northeastern Nevada, CLASS has evolved from merely meeting compliance to “a way of doing business!"


We’d love to share more with you! Feel free to email us:

Teresa McGregor Oster, researcher teresa.oster@utah.edu

Rhonda Lafontaine, CLASS consultant & coach, livingsoulart@global.net

Brenna Malone, Executive Director of Head Start of Northeastern Nevada brenna@hsnn.net

Kylee Haggerty, Education Manager of Head Start of Northeastern Nevada kylee@hsnn.net 

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