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?!"
So, how do you motivate teachers to attend training after a long day of teaching?
I recently posed this question to the MMCI Instructor Community in the hopes that they could share some of their wisdom with me. And this is what they shared:
It's perfectly okay to say “Thank you for attending tonight's session--I know you are all tired. It’s been a long work day!” When we give teachers that validation that we understand their job is NOT easy, and we acknowledge the emotions in the room, it can make the rest of the session run a bit more smoothly. Try transitioning your teachers from the school day to the session by inviting them to share something that was tough in their day, and then follow it up with a success story. For example, “Today I had a little boy that cried for 20 minutes after his mom dropped him off and that was stressful. But eventually he calmed down, and by mid-morning he was happily playing at centers and sharing toys with his friends.”
We cannot be fully present if we don't take care of our immediate physical needs first. Make sure that you allow ample time for teachers to get food between work and the training, or if the budget will allow, provide snacks or a meal. Providing water and small treats can go a long way. I even had an instructor share that she sets up a “relaxation and wellness station” with blankets, mints, water, and little snacks.
We all know that getting the blood flowing can help with being alert and keeping teachers engaged. Here is one movement activity that an instructor shared that she does with her group:
"One way I motivate teachers is to start with a connector activity that also gets everyone moving around. It helps our staff feel more engaged and refreshes their brains. I use freeze dance, or this great song called Popcorn on the Train: Popcorn on the train, let Angela do her thing, she goes ... (that person creates a body movement, and everyone follows) then repeat for all of the other participants. I've also asked participants to go for a walk around the block with me where we talk about an aspect of the training. Being outside and moving also helps re-energize, and thinking while walking can fire more brain cells."
Think about a time when you attended a training, and the whole thing was lecture style—all you did was sit, listen, take notes, and take part in a couple of discussions. Although you may have learned something, were you truly engaged? Chances are, having a mix of discussions plus some hands-on opportunities will help your teachers understand and feel more engaged with the new material they are learning.
There is no right or wrong way to keep teachers engaged. Sometimes you have to find what works for your group. We would love to hear more ideas; please feel free to chime in and share your thoughts on anything else that you’ve tried in your trainings.
Struggling to think of some ideas to shake things up a bit in your training sessions? Check out the Facebook group for Affiliate CLASS Trainers and MMCI Instructors.
When I first learned about CLASS Group Coaching—a training for early childhood professionals about building relationships with children—I was more than a little interested. This, I thought. This is what teaching is all about. It seems to be an obvious concept, but once we dig deeper, we are able to identify the whys and hows of our interactions. CLASS Group Coaching allows us to identify the benefits of our classroom relationships with our students and helps us be intentional in our daily practices. It allows us to utilize each moment we have with our students to deepen our understanding of their perspectives and genuinely connect with them as people. It helps us see the world from their view and guide their learning in a way that is relevant to them.
As a CLASS Group Coaching (MMCI) instructor, the sections of any given two-hour session may feel, at times, very goal driven. These sections titled "Know," "See," and "Do” are interconnected. In particular, it is possible to consider "Do" within "Know," and "See." When an instructor supports in-the-moment experiences that connect new knowledge to current practice, they make the CLASS dimensions more relevant to the educators' daily work. But how can we infuse more “Do” into “Know” and “See?” First, let's re-cap what happens in each section.
I have a confession to make. Recently, I used vacation time to stay home and watch Season 6 of The Walking Dead. I know, I know. How could I have let myself miss a whole season? Oh, and I feel a little bad about taking the time off from work too, but this was very nearly an emergency! I mean it was only weeks before Season 7 of the season premiere. I had to do something. Don’t judge.
While I was watching, I had the strangest feeling of deja vu. I felt like I had actually walked through a herd of zombies, but couldn’t quite place why it felt so familiar. Then it hit me—I had unknowingly created zombie-like participants during at least two of my previous CLASS trainings.