Across the country and around the globe, schools/programs will soon reopen after extended closures due to COVID-19. Those that have remained open are instituting new health and safety practices.. Localities will determine whether to provide in-person, online, or hybrid teaching. Regardless of the model that schools/programs adopt, classrooms will look different now and for the foreseeable future.
Have you ever wished for a magical power that helped you take notes super effectively while conducting CLASS observations? The kind of magical power that paints an exact picture of what happened in the classroom without actually being there? Yeah, me too!
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.”
Have you ever thought that the CLASS tool seemed subjective? Perhaps you’ve coded with another certified observer and come up with very different scores for the same classroom? Maybe you’ve struggled with the reliability test or CLASS Calibration and felt that it was due to you seeing the classroom in a different light or interpreting certain situations differently? You’re not alone. Many observers have been there.
CLASS Specialists at Teachstone all take turns providing reliability support to anxious testers. We often see the same mistakes and misconceptions over and over again about how the CLASS works, and as my story below will share, how the behavioral markers fit into the coding process.
We’ve all heard at some time or another: “I’ve done hundreds of observations; I don’t need my manual!”
In a recent training, one of my participants asked if using the manual was necessary if you’ve done many observations throughout the years. My answer was a resounding “YES!!!” It may be tempting to skip the steps necessary to code reliably, but it's not a good idea. No matter how objective we think we might be while coding a classroom, our bias can sneak up on us and cause us to assign codes that don’t fit with the evidence we've collected.
Concept Development and Quality of Feedback—these two CLASS dimensions used to elicit a sense of fear in me, and I suspect they do for other early childhood educators, too. The fear came from hearing the average teacher’s scores in these dimensions, confusing the two dimensions, and from knowing how important they are to impacting children’s cognitive development.