When you hear the word CLASS you may think about a room in which children are loved and educated. But for the reference of this blog, it is referring to the Classroom Assessment Scoring System. It is a research-based method and through my own experience has pros and cons. We will first discussion further the CLASS Assessment and who it is used with, then I will share pros and cons of using it and implementing the data, and then we will dive into the effects it has on my teaching practices as an educator, owner, and mentor to others in the field.
What is CLASS?
This is an assessment tool that is used to measure, evaluate, and improve interactions between teachers and students. The assessment tool is used by trained individuals that will observe a group of students and their teacher’s interactions in four 20-minute intervals. The three domains of focus are Emotional Support, Classroom Organization, and Instructional Support. Each domain has dimensions, and those dimensions have behavioral indicators. Each dimension is scored on a scale of 1 to 7, 1 representing that little to no indication of this interaction was observed during the 20-minute cycle. This assessment tool can be used with infant and toddlers or preschool.
As an educator there are a lot of pros to the implantation of the CLASS Assessment. If an individual looks at the data and results and strive to use it to make changes and improvements, you will see growth in your skills and interactions with your students.
1. Provide insight in how others saw my interactions. We all have good intentions but sometimes we need an outside eye to help us see things we can improve in. Especially if you get into a flow of things and it became a force of habit. The CLASS Assessments helps us see things in the gray area we need to improve.
2. The dimensions have behavior indicators, so it provides an outline of how to improve. The behavioral indicators are great tool to help us determine what we can do to improve in that area. So instead of just telling us we did something wrong it is giving us a blueprint to success.
3. It supports the theorist Eric Erickson and Abraham Maslow’s theories that children learn from those that they trust. The only way to build trust is to meet the child’s basic needs and build a close bond with the children. The CLASS Assessment support this because it is all about talking to the students, building onto their thoughts, listening to them, and sharing our thoughts.
4. This also supports teachers in getting to know their students a little better. The CLASS Assessment will expose if you know your children’s interest, likes, and how you handle and proactively deal with challenging behavior. We can proactively deal with challenging behavior by observing and know our students needs and behavior cues. This assessment supports this skill being formed in new teachers and enhanced in veteran teachers.
1. When it first was introduced to providers in my area, it was extremely intense and quickly became overwhelming. Then it was required to pass to offer governmental programs like School Readiness. That was extremely stressful at first. My staff and I quickly realized that we were teaching only to pass CLASS and we had to take a step back to evaluate how we can approach it in a healthier manner. Once we mastered that it was smooth sailing.
2. The second and last con was that many providers were shooting for a 7 but it may not be realistic to score that high. I often thought that it was impossible to score that high, however, with a switch of my thinking and insight, I started thinking about it as an opportunity to grow.
Effects on Teaching Practices
There were a few effects on my teaching practices that helped me improve in my connection with my students. I was more draw to looking for opportunities for the children to take the lead, because of my interaction with the CLASS Assessment. I am more conscience of my actions and words so that I am making a meaningful connection and impact on my students. This has had a positive impact on how I communicate and the purpose for the communication. I am no longer talking to talk but talking to expand on the students’ interest and deepening their thinking. The teaching in my classroom is more meaningful in the sense that it is meant to create activities and experiences that will promote critical thinking, reasoning, and classification skills. Problem solving is a skill that every child will need well into adulthood and building these skills early will support their abilities and skills in the workplace and in society. We are teaching the future, future doctors, future lawyers, future police, future scientist, future teachers, and they deserve interactions that support them, upbuild their skills and confidence, and creates a safe and secure environment. As I stated above, at one point I was teaching to only pass CLASS and the meaning for teaching was lost. Once I adjusted my thoughts and opinion on the assessment, I was able to adjust my approach and make it fun. I was able to improve each time I went through the CLASS Assessment, and I made it an important purpose to share my training and knowledge on the assessment with my staff so they too can improve. It has also improved my interaction and conversations with the families in my school. I also share the information with them, and we host parent workshops that teach the parents how to read a book at home and how to use open ended questions. This has also helped us improve as a school and build our skills together. This only helps bridge the gap between home and school and help our babies.