Classrooms are complex. To say the least.
One child arrives late, another needs to clean up after a painting, and some children are having a dispute in the block area—all while a teacher is trying to get a small group engaged in a letter-learning activity.
It’s just not possible for that teacher to give equal focus and attention to every demand in every given moment. So what’s a teacher to do?
Part of becoming an expert teacher is to break through the complexity and learn how to focus attention on the truly important demands, and to make the most of those moments. Teachers can gain the insights they need to focus on what matters in different ways (online courses, trainings, peer learning), but there’s something uniquely powerful about seeing effective teaching moments as they occur. And that’s where videos come in.
Research has shown that by watching videos of other teachers in action, teachers can make real, lasting changes in their own practice. The more time teachers spent watching videos of exemplary teaching moments, the more their own classroom interactions improved.
Given how helpful classroom footage is for teachers, we recommend that professional development programs include the use of video to focus teachers’ professional lens. Video can be used as a self study tool, as an example during a conference, or as the basis for discussion between colleagues. That’s why we put so much effort into maintaining our ever-growing CLASS Video Library and why video is at the heart of myTeachstone, Teachstone’s new online subscription service.
In the wake of the widespread civil unrest after the killing of George Floyd, the national conversation about the inequities in the educational opportunities provided white students and students of color has been amplified. Due to racial and socioeconomic segregation, Black students, and other students of color, are more likely to attend poorly funded schools. EdBuild, a non-profit focused on fair and equitable school funding, reports that high poverty school districts that predominantly enroll children of color receive on average, $1,600 less per student than the national average. By their calculations, there is a $23,000,000,000 gap between funding for schools that primarily serve high poverty Black students and those that predominantly serve white students. Schools that predominantly serve high poverty white students, only receive $1440 less per student (EdBuild, 2019).
When I first learned about CLASS Group Coaching—a training for early childhood professionals about building relationships with children—I was more than a little interested. This, I thought. This is what teaching is all about. It seems to be an obvious concept, but once we dig deeper, we are able to identify the whys and hows of our interactions. CLASS Group Coaching allows us to identify the benefits of our classroom relationships with our students and helps us be intentional in our daily practices. It allows us to utilize each moment we have with our students to deepen our understanding of their perspectives and genuinely connect with them as people. It helps us see the world from their view and guide their learning in a way that is relevant to them.
CLASS allows us to quantify the quality of teacher-child interactions—and that is a powerful thing. But improving child outcomes takes more than just data collection; it’s what you do with the data that really matters.
Here are 4 things you should know about using data to improve student outcomes.
A few years into teaching early childhood, I applied to work at a school that does incredible work in the local community. I was thrilled to get an interview but realized very quickly that, even though the environment was supportive and the students were wonderful young people, I was much too intimidated to work there.