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.
You know that phrase “we are only human?” Being a CLASS Specialist or Affiliate Trainer means we have to be on our best game at all times. But hey, let’s face it—we really are humans with habits (good and maybe not so good) that are challenging to overcome. I thought I would share just a few with you, and solicit some advice too!
When training on the Infant and Toddler CLASS, the importance of cue detection can’t be stressed enough to your participants. Infants and toddlers depend on a sensitive and responsive adult to recognize the messages or cues that they are sending. These "bids for attention" are the way then that children communicate, essentially asking adults to respond in a way that meets each child’s individual needs. And whether we are coding or caregiving, starting with cues is the way to go!
We specialists, MMCI instructors, and trainers are often over-the-top enthusiastic about CLASS, and solid in our belief that CLASS-based interactions truly impact student outcomes. This enthusiasm may lead to being taken aback when we are sent to train for programs that are less than enthusiastic about spending the next two to three days in a training they may not welcome with open arms. This very situation happened to me last year.
I arrived at a program, my usual excited self, ready to begin an Infant/Toddler combined Observation training, only to discover that the group had no intention of actually testing to become reliable observers.
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."
Today, after the school day is over, you will be conducting a CLASS training (in this case, Making the Most of Classroom Interactions, or MMCI). The teachers who will attend have just spent the day with a room full of little humans that have pretty much used every ounce of energy they had. These teachers have sung songs, read stories, wiped noses, organized art activities, helped settle disputes over toys, cleaned up spilled juice, put fifteen children successfully down for naps, packed folders, and now ... sit through a training? These teachers are probably thinking: “You expect me to sit through a two-hour training on how I can be a more effective teacher? How about a nap?!"
When I am not on the road training teachers, researchers, and coaches on the CLASS tool, you can often find me in the home office. There, I'm busy writing blog posts (like this one!), learning new age levels (did you know we have an observation tool for each age group from Infants through Secondary?), and fielding questions and concerns from the Reliability Support helpline. A few weeks ago a question came through the Reliability Support queue that made me stop and think. After answering it, I realized that there are probably other observers out there who are struggling with this same question, or one similar. So here is the question and my thoughts on it.
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).
Once you have been through CLASS Observation Training, it is hard not to notice interactions everywhere you go! You even start to sort those behaviors into dimensions mentally—at least I know I do! When this happens, it can lead us to our own "ah-ha!" moments when preparing for training and gives us some great examples to use with participants who may be experiencing CLASS for the first time. Being able to connect the tool with a relevant, real world examples helps participants connect new content with something they may have experienced, too!