This morning, we received an email from an observer who had a great question about whether or not it’s OK to code interactions on the playground. Page 11 of the Pre-K Manual states, "Observers, may follow the students and teacher outside to code an activity (e.g., for a walk or a science discovery lesson). Observers should terminate observation and not assign codes during recess or outdoor play.” Her question was as follows:
Our organization has really stressed to our teaching staff that meaningful interactions need to happen in every part of the day, including on the playground, and that the playground is but an extension of the classroom. I feel like I'm missing some wonderful moments there. Can you tell me what the purpose of the 'classroom only' philosophy is, and if you think I would be compromising the fidelity of the tool if I were to include the playground time in my observation?
So, what’s up with the playground? Should observers code when the children go out to play or should they stop the observation? The answer is simple: It depends. It depends on what is going on outside. If outdoor time is truly an extension of the classroom, the observer should code. However, if the purpose of going outside is to let the children run around and burn off steam while the adults stand off to the side and chat, the observer should stop the observation.
With that said, a classroom does not have to be a “classroom without walls” for an observer to code outdoor time. Any time a class goes outdoors to engage in a structured activity, be it a nature walk or an obstacle course that is led by a member of the teaching staff, is a good time to conduct an observation.
Practice and feedback is the key to CLASS® success. Even the most experienced certified CLASS Observers need practice and feedback to make sure their classroom observations remain fair and accurate. The best way to provide this is to use our Calibration product. Calibration protects your investment in reliable data collection.
Online Calibrations are available for Certified CLASS observers at all 6 CLASS levels. When you purchase an individual calibration, you’ll receive a video to watch and code on your myTeachstone dashboard. After submitting your codes, you’ll get an automated score report and a prerecorded webinar discussing the master codes.
As the Community Manager with Teachstone, I have been able to talk to many observers, trainers, coaches, and general CLASS lovers. I have found a common thread among these groups: a desire to connect with other CLASS users and put their CLASS knowledge to use.
We often hear from CLASS Observers that are interested in observing more classrooms. Meanwhile, many organizations—particularly smaller organizations or those doing research studies—don’t have Certified CLASS Observers and are in search of observers in their area.
If you're a CLASS observer, you've probably found yourself in a situation where you have to make inferences or rely on contextual evidence when assigning scores. However, it should always be your goal to minimize subjectivity and assumptions. You have to prevent your emotions, opinions, and ideas that are not a part of the CLASS tool from influencing scoring. Achieving an emotionless state of objectivity while observing can be incredibly challenging. It takes practice to recognize when objectivity is threatened and respond accordingly.
Have you ever meditated? One of the most challenging aspects of this practice is clearing your mind from day-to-day thoughts that pop into your head. If you meditate, you know that trying to push those thoughts away doesn’t work—in order to free your mind you must first acknowledge those distracting thoughts before you can return to your “moment of zen.”