I’ll admit it: CLASS terms can be a little confusing. For example, problem solving in Concept Development sounds a lot like resolving problems in Teacher Sensitivity. So, what’s the difference?When I get stuck on a term, I always try to “bring it back to the dimension level” and think about how the term relates to the overall purpose of the dimension. Here, I’d look at Teacher Sensitivity and Concept Development as a whole, and then how resolving problems and problem solving fits into each.
Say you have two children squabbling over who gets to build a puzzle. Your immediate goal as you respond might be to address the problem and get the children engaged cooperatively in the puzzle. You might demonstrate great Teacher Sensitivity by being aware of the situation and responding quickly to help them resolve the issue: “I see you’re frustrated because you both want to build the same puzzle. How about you take turns putting in the pieces?” This is important—we want children’s problems quickly resolved so that they can feel comfortable and participate in activities.
But to “count” as Concept Development, we’d need to look at your goal in the interaction. If it’s to take advantage of an opportunity for children to think through how to resolve the problem, then you’ll interact to promote children’s higher-order thinking skills. You might ask the children arguing over the puzzle, “How can we work this out?” and encourage them to generate and consider strategies (such as turn-taking, working on separate areas and then joining the puzzle, working on different puzzles side-by-side, etc.) to solve the problem. In this case, you might both resolve the problem and engage the children in problem solving at the same time!
Clear as mud? Feel free to ask more about confusing CLASS tool terms!
The time has come for hard conversations.
That’s the feedback we have been receiving from educators across the country. There are plenty of tough conversations educators are trained, taught, or feel equipped to handle with children and families - gently bringing up a developmental concern, facilitating a disagreement between students, or explaining what happened with the classroom goldfish are all part of a day in the life. But in the last year, since the killing of George Floyd and other Black people at the hands of police, educators are increasingly asking for help in communicating more comfortably with young children about diversity and difference.
I was supposed to be an architect, instead I was a teacher of young children; it felt like my calling.
When I started my coursework, they tasked me with visiting multiple classrooms. It overwhelmed me when in some classrooms, children were crying, teachers were frustrated, and no one seemed to enjoy the day. I thought I had made a mistake. Thankfully, I had a professor who inspired me to continue. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the behaviors I observed in both children and teachers, the professor charged me to uncover the root of those behaviors.
And so, my journey to support social-emotional development began.
This past year of hybrid and virtual learning due to the pandemic highlighted the gaps in learning and the inequities that we already knew existed. It is apparent, now more than ever, that there needs to be a narrow focus on bridging the divides (e.g., digital) that exist and meeting students where they are in order to promote growth and put less emphasis on standardized testing. This would allow teachers to concentrate on curriculum with greater impact, differentiate their instruction, and utilize effective strategies that they know make a difference for children’s outcomes.