Imagine sitting down beside a music student as he practices a new song. As a mentor, your role is to provide feedback to the student on how well he’s interpreted the piece, translated the notations into an audible melody, and literally used his fingers to create music as dictated by the sheet music.

Now consider this: How successful would you be as a mentor if you did not know how to read music?

It seems like an absurd proposition, but we hear about it everyday: coaches mentoring teachers on the CLASS that do not have formal training on using the observation tool. How often is this happening? Our State of CLASS report has good news and bad news on that front:

The Good News: 74% of coach respondents reported receiving CLASS Observation Training. This is more than we thought, and it shows the investment the field is willing to make in developing competent coaches.

The Bad News: 84% of teachers receive feedback after their classroom is observed with CLASS. To be fair, this isn’t really bad news—CLASS was developed as a professional development tool, and in an ideal world, 100% of teachers would receive feedback. The concern here is related to the unknown quality of feedback teachers receive—especially when we know that many teachers are given CLASS-based feedback on their scores by people who aren't trained to understand what those scores really mean.

Feedback, especially on something as personal as the way you interact with children, is usually challenging to receive; but without proper context, it can be detrimental.

If you’ve ever wondered whether sending coaches to CLASS Observation Training (even if they are not responsible for conducting formal observations) is “worth it,” you can stop wondering. Here are just a few competencies coaches develop when they become Certified CLASS Observers:

  • They can articulate why teacher-child interactions are important
  • They are able to define CLASS dimensions, indicators, and behavioral markers
  • They are able to align teacher behaviors with CLASS dimensions
  • They can conduct specific, objective classroom observations
  • They can reliably code classroom video using the CLASS tool

I don’t know about you, but if I were receiving mentorship, I’d expect my coach to deeply understand the complexities of my craft and be able to recognize and objectively assess my progress.

What’s your stance on coaches becoming CLASS reliable observers? Tell us in the comments below!


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