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.
Providing this professional development opportunity for my staff has allowed us to share our experiences and grow as a team. It has allowed us to share the same platform to strive for the same outcomes and support each other along the way. During our weekly sessions, my teachers have shared their successes and identified their areas of desired growth—and have been met with supportive discussion from their peers. I have seen my teachers develop deeper, more intentional relationships with each other as they commit to strengthening their relationships with the children in their care. This has been exciting to witness and be a part of.
Here are the top five things I wish I’d known before I started:
- Relax, you know this material. The context of early childhood education in this course is your passion and why we are in this field.
- Allow the teachers to share their experiences. There is plenty of learning that comes out of these conversations, and it builds your community.
- Be prepared and keep things exciting. Avoid using the same methods of class participation in back-to-back weeks. After identifying indicators by playing popcorn one week, for example, facilitate an activity with alternate materials the next.
- Set the stage. Create a comfortable work environment and practice Teacher Sensitivity. For example, if fluorescent lights tend to give one participant headaches, use lamps instead. Or provide snacks other than candy for participants who prefer healthier options.
- Practice the dimensions within your teaching style in each session. Create a Positive Climate, promote Productivity, develop your Quality of Feedback, etc.
Guest blog written by Amanda Naylor. Amanda is a CLASS Group Coaching Coach and Early Childhood Program Director at The Acorn School in Boulder, Colorado.