CLASS behavioral markers (those bulleted lists of observable behaviors under each indicator on your dimension face pages) are both friends and, if you can believe this, well, at times—foes.
As friends, when teachers engage in behavioral marker based interactions in their classrooms, the quality of children’s experiences improves. As foes, behavioral markers can become checklists during CLASS observations, something our manuals in all age groups advise against doing.
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.
Boots—I’ve always had a love for them, or at least since 1966 when Nancy Sinatra put out the song, “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’.” I think my first pair of boots could have been classified as the “go-go” variety. They were white vinyl slip-ons, and they were always falling down to my ankles like a pair of loose athletic socks. I’ve had many pairs of boots since then. But last year I asked for my first pair of cowboy boots. It was love at first sight. They fit like a glove, not loose athletic socks. I can train all day in them. I can run through airports in them. I can dance the night away in them. Cinderella was right. A pair of shoes can change a girl’s life. Believe it or not, a pair of shoes or even an outfit can make or break CLASS training.
I had the opportunity to interview teacher Dana McDowell, a Pre-K teacher from Lafayette, Louisiana. During the 2016-17 school year Dana participated in the MyTeachingPartner (MTP) professional development program. By collaborating and engaging in the MTP process with her coach Kaly Barlow, Dana was able to set CLASS-related goals and achieve them by the end of the year. Dana gives great insight into what made the MTP process successful for her.
In every CLASS Observation Training, there is always one video that is my favorite. I know--they say we aren’t supposed to have favorites, but when it comes to training videos, I just can’t help myself!
Floor Drum is the fourth video in the Toddler CLASS Observation Training and it's my favorite. Did you know that the video sequence in every observation training is totally intentional? That’s right, there is very specific rationale behind the order of the training videos, and each video accomplishes a different goal. It creates a purposeful journey for CLASS observation training participants!
When conducting a CLASS training, there are always a few dimensions I know participants are probably going to struggle with more than others. For instance, Concept Development is going to be tricky for some, followed closely by Quality of Feedback. Usually though, as we progress through training, these dimensions become more clear.
As a trainer, you have probably heard the age-old question from at least one participant during the testing process: “Why can’t I find out the master codes for the testing videos?” You have also probably heard the argument: “If I found out the master codes on my testing videos, I would have a better understanding of my performance.”
In the last “Real World Examples” post, we focused on Positive Climate. Moving on through the CLASS manual, today we will explore the dimension of Teacher Sensitivity. When thinking about Teacher Sensitivity, it helps to understand how it plays out in our everyday lives. Throughout any given day, many opportunities present themselves (sometimes the smallest moments) to provide thoughtful and sensitive responses. Supporting those we train to make a connection between everyday experiences and classroom experiences helps make learning the CLASS tool more meaningful and relatable!
Convincing participants to move off of the manual's face pages, and into the descriptive paragraphs is a constant challenge in CLASS Observation trainings. The face page is comfortable, easy to read, concise, and concrete (you know, with all of those handy-dandy behavioral markers). The tri-fold is even easier, and tugging participants away from that resource during the coding process can be tough as well! My strategies for convincing participants that the descriptive paragraphs are an important step in the coding process starts very early in a CLASS Observation Training and continues throughout the two-days. It starts with a sort of analogy, and I call it “The Rest of the Story."
If you’ve ever read the Teachstone blog, then you may have come across this very popular post written by Teachstone’s very own CLASS coding expert and client success guru, Nikki Croasdale. In her post, she likens the Quality of Feedback dimension to the old Tootsie Roll Pop commercial featuring a little boy asking a cartoon owl, “How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll Center of a Tootsie Pop?” Comparing this classic question to a common Quality of Feedback question (“How many back-and-forth exchanges make a feedback loop?”), she describes how CLASS defines this dimension, concluding that there is no magic number; when it comes to feedback loops it’s about quality, not quantity.