Here's the scenario: you became an Affiliate Trainer within the past year. It's now time for you to recertify. This recertification is different from previous observer tests. After you pass the video portion, you now have an additional test, just for trainers. It's the "Knowledge Test." And somehow, you fail the test! How can that happen?!
We recently saw a comment on the CLASS Community Facebook Group from one of our MMCI Instructors and CLASS Observers, Candice Smith, and this is what it said:
“Well, you know you are a CLASS Instructor when you find yourself in the jury room telling your fellow jurors to remain objective, opinions do not matter, and to put on your lens and focus on the evidence only.”
CLASS observers have a limited arsenal when it comes to conducting observations and assigning scores: CLASS score sheets for noting and sorting evidence, and the CLASS manual for guidance when choosing scores. These two items (along with a trusty writing utensil and an up-to-date CLASS certification) are the only pieces of equipment that are truly necessary for success. Tucked neatly in the back of the manual, however, lies an additional resource that is the most controversial of them all: the CLASS Dimensions Overview--you might know it as "the laminated tri-fold."
While it’s gratifying and inspiring to observe warm, nurturing, and instructionally dynamic classrooms, unfortunately that’s not always the case. I received an email the other day from an observer who conducts observations for a research project in middle and high schools. He was concerned about interactions he had observed, and wanted to make sure he was doing CLASS coding correctly. Since we have a blog on the website about classrooms scoring all 7s, I thought it would be important to bring up the other end of the continuum as well.
What does the color green have to do with assigning Low, Mid, and High ranges to CLASS indicators?
Well, in all honesty, not much, but I’m hoping an analogy inspired by St. Patrick's Day can help you explain to your observers-in-training why it is a mistake to try to assign numerical values to indicators (and why assigning Low, Mid, and High ranges is a much better bet).
The CLASS tool is complex, and for good reason. It measures human interactions, which are in and of themselves very complex. While complexity in measuring interactions is a good thing, CLASS takes ongoing practice to master and maintain. If you are not in the tool regularly, or if you train a lot but only occasionally code in classrooms, you can experience what we call “drift.” It’s possible to move away from being as reliable as you once were. Luckily, there’s an answer for that—CLASS Calibration!
I have a confession to make. I loathe football. Yes, it’s true. I have spent my life surrounded by football-watching brothers, cousins, sons, and husbands and I don’t understand the first thing about it. I live in Louisiana in the heart of SEC territory. I truly cannot count the number or types of football games I’ve been to: powder-puff, flag, pee-wee, high school varsity, junior varsity, college, arena, professional, and even a prison game! I still know nothing about the game except that I yell when everyone else does and I love the New Orleans Saints (due to a childhood, okay, adult crush on Archie Manning).
I recently heard about risk competency and big body play at a local teaching conference. I have spent time considering this in relation to our Head Start program. One of the questions I have been asking myself is how some play that might be considered "roughhousing" will impact CLASS scores in Behavior Management. Behaviors that typically appear aggressive (pushing, hitting, building a "sword" out of markers and then using it to inadvertently hit another child) lower the score in this dimension. Do I change the way I view this interaction in terms of CLASS? Does this put me at risk for no longer being reliable? What advice do you have regarding this?