At some point in every training, someone invariably looks up and says, “So, if I want to be reliable, all I need to do is never score a 1 or a 7, right?”
Wrong! Every time I hear this, I want to scream. However, since it’s poor form for the trainer to scream, I maintain my composure and calmly explain that although I understand the intuitive appeal of what I call “The Numbers Game,” I cannot recommend it for the reasons presented below:
Have you ever wished for a magical power that helped you, and your observers-in-training, take notes super effectively? The kind of magical power that would allow you to capture everything you see and hear without missing a beat? The kind of magical power that paints an exact picture of what happened in the classroom without actually being there? Yeah, me too!
Recently, I conducted a CLASS Train-the-Trainer. During the training, as we discussed going over the certification and re-certification process with their trainees, a question arose that often comes up during Observation training. Or rather in this case, it was a statement. “I wish we could know the master codes for all of our reliability test videos. I feel like I would learn more about my mistakes. The feedback just isn’t helpful to me, I want to know how I really did.”
Since this is a recurring comment in Observation trainings as well or really, an FAQ, let’s explore this question. And while we are at it, one more question that often happens during the same discussion is, “Why can’t I know how I did directly after I code each video?”
A CLASS Observation Training is an interactive, content-packed experience, and even the most enthusiastic participants may find it difficult to think clearly as they gather their notebooks to head home at the end of day two. Of course we understand how busy everyone is leading up to a training, so none of the below is technically required of your future trainees to attend a training. However, a few minutes of preparation can give them a framework for the CLASS knowledge they're about to gain and that can truly enrich the experience for them and everyone their new CLASS knowledge will impact! To give colleagues in your organization a head start on understanding CLASS, consider sharing the following tips with them:
I wish I had a dollar for every time someone asked me to explain what my company does. I get so excited and I start off with something like this: “Oh, we create professional development programs for teachers that are based around this assessment tool called CLASS (the Classroom Assessment Scoring System), which is all about observing how teachers interact with the students in their classrooms. You know, like, are the teachers maintaining a positive climate? Are they really clear in how they want their students to behave?”
. . . and I’ve just gotten a glazed-over look from whomever I'm speaking with. My excitement for CLASS results in too much information being thrown at them way too fast.
Let’s skip past all the reasons reliability on the CLASS measure is super important. Your CLASS trainees already know that improving teaching starts with gathering fair and valid observation data—hence the dreaded CLASS reliability test, to prove their coding skills are on point.
“It’s okay to be wrong! In fact, I want you to make mistakes!” I say that phrase in every Observation Training. What’s the worst thing that can happen if you are off by more than one on a code?NOTHING!You just have the opportunity to learn from that mistake.