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."
Sounds great, right? Right!
What an easy way to code, right? Wrong!
The tri-fold is great for learning the tool--familiarizing yourself with what types of behavioral evidence fit into each indicator, and which indicators fall into which dimensions. It can also be used as a reference while watching training videos and taking notes--scanning over the tri-fold briefly as a video plays can remind an observer what types of interactions to look for and where to note them. Using the tri-fold this way can prevent the paralysis that happens to most new CLASS observers when they see or hear something in a training video and think to themselves, “Aha! That’s evidence ... of ... something! But I have no idea what!” A quick glance at the tri-fold might help the observer to decide that the open-ended question they just heard should be noted in Language Modeling rather than Quality of Feedback, for example.
The tri-fold loses its usefulness, however, when used for the actual coding process. As any CLASS trainer worth their salt knows, the coding process can’t take place without the use of the detailed descriptions of the low, mid, and high ranges that only exist in the manual. Because the behavioral markers within a dimension aren’t intended to be used as a checklist, and because the brief low, mid, and high descriptions on the face page or in the tri-fold are, well, brief, we have to use the descriptive pages to differentiate between ranges when scoring.
How do you manage your Observation participants’ excitement over the “tri-fold”? Join the trainer group on Facebook to discuss this and other controversial training topics with fellow CLASS trainers!
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 the Community Manager with Teachstone, I have been able to talk to many observers, trainers, coaches, and general CLASS lovers. I have found a common thread among these groups: a desire to connect with other CLASS users and put their CLASS knowledge to use.
We often hear from CLASS Observers that are interested in observing more classrooms. Meanwhile, many organizations—particularly smaller organizations or those doing research studies—don’t have Certified CLASS Observers and are in search of observers in their area.
If you're a CLASS observer, you've probably found yourself in a situation where you have to make inferences or rely on contextual evidence when assigning scores. However, it should always be your goal to minimize subjectivity and assumptions. You have to prevent your emotions, opinions, and ideas that are not a part of the CLASS tool from influencing scoring. Achieving an emotionless state of objectivity while observing can be incredibly challenging. It takes practice to recognize when objectivity is threatened and respond accordingly.
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.