In the last "Real World Examples" post, we focused on Teacher Sensitivity. Moving on through the CLASS manual, today we will explore Regard for Student Perspectives, the last dimension in the Emotional Support domain. The English Oxford Dictionary defines the word regard as “pay attention to;” for CLASS, this translates to: “pay attention to student perspectives.” When teachers purposefully plan activities and lessons that incorporate students' ideas and interests and allow them opportunities to talk, the children feel like they have a place and ownership in the classroom. The same rings true in day-to-day life—when we welcome others’ perspectives, there are more opportunities for intentional learning.
The Example: A Home Remodel
Home upgrades are no easy feat. New homeowners who purchase a home in need of an update may hire a renovation crew to take their ideas and bring them to life. Once construction has begun, the contractor on the job may have to make unplanned changes initiated by the owners. Perhaps a pony wall the owners thought was a great idea is making the space seem too small. Or the homeowners change their mind about that new shade of lavender after they actually see it on the wall. The contractor agrees to the changes, and the crew sets about to repaint, and pull out that pony wall (shows flexibility). Many times contractors incorporate the homeowner's ideas into a design even when it is something they may not particularly care for (incorporate students’ ideas and follow the students’ lead). Being flexible and focusing on the homeowner’s ideas helps the renovation process run smoothly, and the owners feel a sense of ownership and pride in the improvement process and the finished product.
The Example: Cooking Dinner
Consider all the ways there are to create a restaurant-worthy meal right at home! Some "cook-at-home" companies encourage novice chefs of all skill levels to take the lead in planning and fixing meals of their choice with a little bit of structure from the service. It begins by allowing the customer choices, which help them to customize their meal preferences from many different options (allows choice). The meal box of groceries is shipped to the cook’s home along with step-by-step instructions on how to make the meal. There are ingredients in the box that are pre-measured, but the responsibility is on the cook to prepare and cook and serve the meal (gives students responsibility). The structured process is flexible and allows the cook to be autonomous throughout the process.
The Example: Football Breakdown
As the fall season rolls around, sports talk begins to dominate--especially for football fans. When attending a football game of any caliber, it is easy to find someone who will begin asking questions about football team loyalties: “What team is your team?” or “Who are you rooting for today?” (encourages student talk). Once commitments are determined, other questions such as, “What do you think about that play?” or “How do you think this season will go?” may be asked and typically a great breakdown of each play that happens during the game ensues (elicits ideas and/or perspectives). Encouraging others to express themselves through talking and asking for their ideas helps to make a stronger connection. Ultimately, encouraging expression from others allows us to understand better how the other people view the world.
The Example: A Drive-In Movie
When attending an outdoor movie theater, there are many options for seating. Outdoor movies tend to be less rigid than traditional theater stadium seating, allowing freedom of movement without the usual "behave yourself" expectations (is not rigid). Attending movies outdoors allows us a little more freedom to move about, kick back, and relax a little (allows movement). Many outdoor theaters have more general expectations outlined for patrons attending the movie that help keep everyone safe and able to participate. When people are allowed to move about in a way that is safe and not interfering with other patrons, the experience is more comfortable and enjoyable for all!
What are some of your favorite real-world examples of Regard for Student Perspectives? How do you encourage the people in your world to express openly, or feel as though their opinions and ideas are valuable?
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When I was a teacher, I can remember taking care to intentionally plan differentiated, or individualized, instruction. And, when I was teaching pre-K I added the same level of intentionality to which materials were available in interest areas, and how I approached transitions throughout the day.
While any level of intentionally, specifically in relation to planning, is important -- I missed a critical opportunity in being more intentional in my interactions with the children in my class.
There is always an opportunity for interaction. Some opportunities are easily recognizable: times of play, free choice, centers, small group. We often see teachers engaged in activities alongside children during these times or hear questions being asked. Other opportunities might be a little less obvious. These are the times of your day that you might see as mundane moments that merely require your supervision or monitoring. The times where you’re going through the motions. “I’m doing this thing so I can move on to the next thing.”
In a previous blog, colleague and early childhood environment extraordinaire, Heather Sason, discussed how your classroom environment can help promote effective teacher-child interactions. In this blog, I propose we explore some of the often overlooked times in your day that are ripe for interactions with children and that do promote exploration, learning, and development!
It's not uncommon for teachers in early education to need to strike a balance between following children's leads and sticking to the classroom schedule. We know that intentional teachers are aware of their responsibility to assess student progress, understand skill mastery, and plan accordingly to provide opportunities for children to grow. However, many times, as teachers begin a specific teacher-directed activity, it is unsettling when students begin to veer from the step-by-step plans the teacher has worked hard to implement.
Teacher and coach, Colleen Schmit, will share how teachers can strike the balance between following the lesson plans and giving children freedom of choice and flexibility in the classroom.
As an educator, you’re busy. Your time is being split by competing priorities, from managing students’ needs, meeting your program’s goals, and communicating with parents. While you’re juggling your work, it can be difficult to keep learning about important ways to improve your daily teaching practice. Teachstone is here to help!