So far in our FCC Challenge series, we've looked at coding across multiple age levels, maintaining coding consistency and staying objective, and how to code when there are multiple adults present. As we wrap up our series, we'll explore resources designed to increase the effectiveness of the interactions that matter—those that increase children’s learning and development. Although more research is needed on CLASS-based professional development in family childcare homes, we do know that there are many opportunities to engage in interactions with children regardless of the setting's space, materials, or furnishings.
We recommend that caregivers begin with a basic introduction to the CLASS tool and then deep knowledge from that point. Because mixed ages within a family child care home are likely, the Toddler CLASS introductory programs are a great place to become familiar with the tool:
From this point, we suggest learning about the other age levels, perhaps picking a specific dimension to study and then compare to the toddler age level. Take, for example, the Language Modeling dimension. Although the name of the dimension is the same in the pre-K age level, the definition and indicators vary. To become flexible with the tool, caregivers must learn to carefully consider the specific dimensions and indicators so they can adjust their lens as necessary.
Ultimately, effective interactions take planning and intentionality so that the individual needs of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers can be met in one setting.
For more about the complexity of family child care homes, I invite you to take a look at our white paper Using the CLASS Measure in Family Child Care Homes.
Across the country and around the globe, schools/programs will soon reopen after extended closures due to COVID-19. Those that have remained open are instituting new health and safety practices.. Localities will determine whether to provide in-person, online, or hybrid teaching. Regardless of the model that schools/programs adopt, classrooms will look different now and for the foreseeable future.
As the former Vice President of Education and Program Operations, as well as the Head Start/Early Head Start Program Director, of a large Chicago Agency, I am often asked the question, “How did you get your CLASS scores to rise so much?” Our Pre-K Instructional Support scores rose from a 2.65 to a 3.74 the first year, and from a 3.74 to a 4.17 the second year. It wasn’t an easy process. And it was up to us to show our teachers the importance of teacher-student interactions and slowly introduce how CLASS scores could be used to improve these interactions.
Below are three steps we took to introduce the importance of CLASS and interactions to our teachers and, ultimately, raise our CLASS scores.