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The CLASS Tool Goes to College: Could Your Education Students Learn from It?

06 Aug 2015 by Joe Pierce

Much of what I really needed to know about teaching I learned teaching kindergarteners. I needed to learn it all again when I taught adult students in teacher education courses. At every level, the importance of interactions and emotional, organizational, and instructional support made the difference.

Now that I know the CLASS framework, I can identify and describe these interactions far better. I can do it with the added confidence that the research behind CLASS brings. I wish I’d known the CLASS framework when my work focused on teaching education students and observing them in the field. I wish I’d had the language and resources that CLASS offers to guide my thinking and share with my adult students.

As it turns out, I’m not alone in that goal! Over the past several years, I’ve discussed CLASS with teacher educators at colleges and universities around the country and beyond. Those familiar with the CLASS framework want to infuse it into their curriculum. Those new to it want to learn more. All agree that we should be introducing the CLASS measure and related professional development to teachers as early in their careers as possible.

Now we’re seeing more and more instructors embedding CLASS into their courses. Some are simply introducing CLASS concepts, while others are making the system an integral part of their coursework and fieldwork. Some are using Dimensions Guides and Video Library subscriptions as course materials, while others are deepening their own knowledge by attending CLASS trainings. Some are using Making the Most of Classroom Interactions (MMCI) as a course, while others are using CLASS coaching and feedback programs to provide support to teachers during their field experiences. MyTeachstone, the new online subscription service being introduced this fall, holds promise as a comprehensive CLASS resource that may be a good solution for college programs.

In thinking about CLASS in the teacher education context, I often come back to a conversation I had with a university professor well versed in CLASS. She was talking about how the framework helps clarify complex, effective interactions. “The beauty of CLASS is its simplicity and its research base,” she said. That seems like something useful in teacher education programs. And given that the concepts apply across ages and stages, it’s something that can help our education students and inform our own practice.

Editor's Note: This post was originally published April 16, 2014, but has since been rewritten to include updated content. 


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