When I first became a CLASS trainer, I was so excited to see that the PowerPoint notes explained exactly what I needed to say and do for each slide in the presentation. In addition, the exemplar video descriptions and the Master Code Justifications had all of the information I needed to discuss the videos, including examples of interactions for each indicator and summaries that explained how the master coding team arrived at the score. “Ah yes, “ I thought, “I am all set to go. All I have to do is memorize the words and the paragraphs, right?” Wrong! The CLASS is so much more than scripts and the training is no exception.
The CLASS is a complex tool and training people to become reliable is a challenging task. There is a difference between coding reliably and understanding why a dimension received a certain code. For example, a couple of days ago, I was giving an observation training. There was a video that was difficult for almost all of the participants. I was doing my normal facilitation of the video, asking who is reliable, what did the participants see, reading some examples from the Master Code Justifications, and finishing up the discussion with the justification summary. I asked if anyone had any questions, when a participant raised her hand. She asked, “Cierra, in your own words, why did you give this dimension this code?” I remember thinking to myself, “Oh no, not in my own words!” I could feel my heart pounding a little faster. I took out my coding notes (this is why taking notes during the video is a great idea and has saved my life!) and began to share what I observed, the ranges that I assigned to each indicator, and why the code was the best fit. The participant smiled and said, “Thank you for that clarification, it was what I needed.”
The point of my story is that the CLASS training is more than following the scripted guidelines; this is one training where you have to really understand the tool and how to use it. The scripts are there to help you when you need them, to provide a foundation for your discussions, but it is up to you to really teach your participants not only the tool, but also how to become reliable observers. Take the time to learn and understand the tool yourself before training others. Review the videos that you have to facilitate, and code them by yourself first, read the Master Code Justifications and really understand how each dimension was scored. Then figure out how you are going to help someone else understand this same information.
This was an “ah-ha” moment for me. It’s lessons like this that really help us to become the best CLASS trainers that we can be.
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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 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.
I have a confession to make. Recently, I used vacation time to stay home and watch Season 6 of The Walking Dead. I know, I know. How could I have let myself miss a whole season? Oh, and I feel a little bad about taking the time off from work too, but this was very nearly an emergency! I mean it was only weeks before Season 7 of the season premiere. I had to do something. Don’t judge.
While I was watching, I had the strangest feeling of deja vu. I felt like I had actually walked through a herd of zombies, but couldn’t quite place why it felt so familiar. Then it hit me—I had unknowingly created zombie-like participants during at least two of my previous CLASS trainings.