We CLASS Specialists are always thinking about the complexity of the CLASS tool as we prepare for our trainings. As a trained CLASS observer myself, I am comfortable observing and recognizing quality interactions that fit in the tool. But I needed a strategy to convey this information to a group of teachers that may not be as familiar with the tool. As it turns out, using an analogy is a perfect way to make the complex relatable, less overwhelming, and more familiar to our participants.
When I train or coach educators that aren’t familiar with the CLASS tool, or are brand new to it, I like to use this analogy of the body to introduce CLASS:
Heart: The Emotional Support Domain. It is the heart of the body. It refers to certain behaviors that help children develop warm, supportive relationships, experience enjoyment and excitement about learning, feel comfortable in the classroom, and experience appropriate levels or autonomy or independence. Think of it as all the feels.
Bones: The Classroom Organization Domain. It is the bones of the body. It refers to specific behaviors that help children develop skills to regulate their behavior, get the most learning out of each day, and maintain interest in learning activities. Think of that “well-oiled machine” that runs smoothly and efficiently. Just as your bones are the structure of your body and hold everything in place, CO is the structure of the classroom.
Brain: The Instructional Support Domain. It is the brain of the body. It refers to specific teaching behaviors that support children’s cognitive development and language growth. Here, children learn to analyze and reason; they learn to connect concepts and acquire new language--all with the support of a highly skilled teacher who provides feedback to continue to take the child to the next level.
Analogies can transform a message, concept, or technical topic into terms your participants can understand. Analogies are powerful, because they allow us to convey complex or technical information and ideas to an unfamiliar audience.
Here are five benefits of using analogies. They:
Did you notice all the concept development going on right there?
Every day we need to inform and influence audiences through writing and speaking. In your career, the extent to which you are effective at doing both will be a major factor in your participants’ ability to understand and implement the content you are delivering.
Analogies are one of the more powerful devices in your arsenal of rich communications tools. By using them, you help make your message clear, simple, believable, relatable, and memorable.
Your analogies will be most effective if they are:
The next time you are out there delivering a training, think about what kind of analogies you can use to help you provide this new knowledge to your audience. Analogies are like sandwiches; you can make them out of anything.
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.
Across the nation, teachers learning about CLASS are asked to narrate their actions and sportscast their children’s experiences in order to support and encourage healthy language development. Hearing this, many teachers may wonder, “Will people think I’m crazy if I start talking to myself in the classroom?”
The answer is no. Self- and parallel talk are beneficial strategies for teachers to engage in because they strengthen language rich environments and enhance vocabulary development, all while supporting effective relationship building between teachers and children.
I recently heard a great analogy about the CLASS tool and I had to share it. I can’t take credit for the idea. Affiliate Trainer, Teresa Bockes, originated the concept, and I loved it the minute I heard it: CLASS is like a house. Let’s build a house step-by-step to learn more about this metaphor.
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.