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Real World Examples: Teacher Sensitivity

26 May 2017 by Courtney Pfeifer

In the last “Real World Examples” post, we focused on Positive Climate. Moving on through the CLASS manual, today we will explore the dimension of Teacher Sensitivity. When thinking about Teacher Sensitivity, it helps to understand how it plays out in our everyday lives. Throughout any given day, many opportunities present themselves (sometimes the smallest moments) to provide thoughtful and sensitive responses. Supporting those we train to make a connection between everyday experiences and classroom experiences helps make learning the CLASS tool more meaningful and relatable!

Teacher Sensitivity


The Example: A Rainy Day

Let's consider the process of evening preparation for the day ahead. You check the weather forecast for tomorrow’s temperature and chance of precipitation. Noticing that rain is predicted, you decide to set out a raincoat and umbrella (anticipating a problem and planning appropriately). When the next day arrives and it starts to sprinkle, you open your umbrella. As you do so, you notice a man on the park bench struggling to open his own umbrella. You realize that the person at the bench is having trouble figuring out how to latch his umbrella so that it stays open (notices a lack of understanding and/or difficulties).


The Example: A Rainy Day (continued)

After you notice the man’s challenge to latch his umbrella, you approach him to help: “I see that your umbrella won't open—that must be frustrating, and you are getting wet (acknowledges emotions). Is there anything I can do to help (provides comfort and assistance)?”

Addresses Problems

The Example: Transportation Troubles

Finding yourself stranded with transportation troubles is frustrating for anyone. When we wake up in the morning, we generally anticipate that our day will go as planned without car or transit troubles. Unfortunately, things do not always go so smoothly. Let’s say you tried to start your car in the morning and couldn’t get it running, so you call a mechanic. The mechanic responds quickly and sends for a tow truck to retrieve the vehicle and takes it to the shop. The mechanic also provides a courtesy vehicle that will take you to work (helps in effective and timely manner). Later, the mechanic calls with a solution to the problem. You voice a concern (“That repair may be out of our budget!”). The mechanic offers an alternate solution (and helps resolve a problem.) The mechanic in this example exhibits a lot of sensitivity to your concerns and is able to effectively and efficiently help address the problem.

Student Comfort

The Example: A Neighborhood Party

Summertime is the most popular time to hold neighborhood get-togethers and family reunions. When you arrive to this type of event, you probably tend to seek out the people with whom you feel most comfortable. You may ask them to introduce you to others (seeks support and guidance). The people you are most comfortable with help make you feel at ease in a new group, and as a result, you can engage in a conversation without hesitation (freely participate). You may even choose to take a risk and strike out on your own to meet new people because your “secure base” has given you confidence and is nearby (takes risks).

By connecting CLASS indicators to the participant's actual lives, we can bring CLASS to life but making it meaningful and relevant! Stay tuned for additional dimensions in this series.

What are some of your favorite real-world examples of Teacher Sensitivity? In what ways do we notice and respond to the cues of the people around us? 

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