In preparing summer professional development for teachers, my district knew we wanted CLASS to play a larger role in our trainings. But how were we going to do that?
Once we began writing our training on centers we decided to videotape some of our model teachers to highlight interactions in each specific center—in essence, we wanted to create our own internal version of the CLASS Video Library.
After my colleague and I first captured clips, it was clear that we should not plan on pursuing videography as a career. We deleted the shaky and silent videos and went back to our teachers the week before school ended to ask if we could please tape one more time. This time we had someone with steady hands film us.
Yesterday I sat in a room with three of my colleagues where we watched videos, scored them, and determined which dimension each video best highlighted. Then, it was time to watch my video.
All I wanted to do was run out of the room.
Of course I had already watched my videos (at least five times each) and I could only see the interactions I missed (and that I had no idea my voice was so high-pitched!). There was the child who wanted to show me his drawing and I never turned and acknowledged him. And I missed the opportunity to use parallel talk while a child drew at the art table.
Luckily I was in the room with three very skilled coaches who used their CLASS lens to help me see how all the repetition and extension I used not only provided a model of correct syntax and complex language structure, but also gave the child affirmation, which extended her participation in the activity.
And yes, they too saw my missed opportunity to turn and acknowledge the child who wanted to show off his work, but they also pointed out how many children who came over that I did acknowledge. The students saw me as a source of support, a behavior marker in Teacher Sensitivity. Through our conversation I also saw sparks I missed or let fizzle and we discussed what I could have done differently to turn the child’s spark into a positive interaction.
After an entire school year of immersing myself in CLASS, watching a clip of myself interacting with students was the perfect ending to the year. I am certain my interactions will improve, and now I have a deeper appreciation for all of my teachers that are willing to videotape their interactions to improve outcomes for students.
I can’t wait for our summer professional development to begin so our teachers can view our new homemade CLASS clips and be ready to interact with our pre-K students next school year (I’m also hoping no one notices the shaky video clips)!
Kelly Brennion is an Instructional Specialist in the Early Childhood & Community Partnerships Department in Dallas ISD. She has a Bachelor of Science in Education with a specialization on Early Childhood Education from Baylor University and a Master’s in Educational Administration from Texas A&M University Commerce. Kelly has spent her entire education career working with students, teachers and administrators in Dallas ISD where she is passionate about ensuring the promise of school is fulfilled for all students.
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When I was a teacher, I can remember taking care to intentionally plan differentiated, or individualized, instruction. And, when I was teaching pre-K I added the same level of intentionality to which materials were available in interest areas, and how I approached transitions throughout the day.
While any level of intentionally, specifically in relation to planning, is important -- I missed a critical opportunity in being more intentional in my interactions with the children in my class.
There is always an opportunity for interaction. Some opportunities are easily recognizable: times of play, free choice, centers, small group. We often see teachers engaged in activities alongside children during these times or hear questions being asked. Other opportunities might be a little less obvious. These are the times of your day that you might see as mundane moments that merely require your supervision or monitoring. The times where you’re going through the motions. “I’m doing this thing so I can move on to the next thing.”
In a previous blog, colleague and early childhood environment extraordinaire, Heather Sason, discussed how your classroom environment can help promote effective teacher-child interactions. In this blog, I propose we explore some of the often overlooked times in your day that are ripe for interactions with children and that do promote exploration, learning, and development!
It's not uncommon for teachers in early education to need to strike a balance between following children's leads and sticking to the classroom schedule. We know that intentional teachers are aware of their responsibility to assess student progress, understand skill mastery, and plan accordingly to provide opportunities for children to grow. However, many times, as teachers begin a specific teacher-directed activity, it is unsettling when students begin to veer from the step-by-step plans the teacher has worked hard to implement.
Teacher and coach, Colleen Schmit, will share how teachers can strike the balance between following the lesson plans and giving children freedom of choice and flexibility in the classroom.
We’re more than a month into the school year, and many educators and school leaders are feeling tired or burnt out already. That’s normal in any school year, as the newness of back-to-school wanes and the reality of a long year ahead kicks in. But, this year, that tiredness may feel like it has never felt before. Chalkbeat has reported that teacher vacancies are up in 18 of 20 large school districts, and it’s not surprising. Many are exhausted after a difficult year and a half (to put it mildly!). Many are also leaving the profession in droves to find work in competitive environments that provide a substantially larger salary.