The assessment team in PA is often asked if they have any tips to make meeting quality standards easier. Since they have experience visiting many programs in their professional careers, they have seen many programs employ strategies to make things easier, more efficient, and more effective. Implementing quality can be stressful or time consuming, but always worth it. So, this Q-T Corner moment aims at helping you along the way.

What about Pre-K CLASS?

A few years ago, CLASS (Classroom Assessment Scoring System) became an approved Program Observation Instrument choice in the Keystone STARS Standards.

The CLASS Instruments measure quality interactions in center-based programs. There is a CLASS manual for each age group including Infant CLASS, Toddler CLASS, Pre-K CLASS, and K-3 CLASS.

The role of a teacher is paramount to a child reaching their full social, emotional, and cognitive development. Quality classroom materials such as learning toys for math, science, literacy, dramatic play, etc. are not in themselves enough to promote the full development of children. For example, a number puzzle is merely a puzzle that matches the shape and form of the numeral 3 to a hole with that same shape and form. It takes a teacher to help children understand that the numeral 3 is a representation of a quantity of apples or books, for example.

The CLASS measures such interactions with the children. Each CLASS observation consists of four to six 20-minute observation cycles, followed by a 10-minute coding period as each observation cycle receives its own scores.

The CLASS does not directly measure quality in the areas of health and safety or in the number of classroom materials, nor in the time of access to those materials. However, if these quality elements are missing, high quality conversations and interactions with children to promote learning are less likely.

Here are some quality tips to promote high quality interactions with children to promote their social, emotional, and cognitive success especially in Pre-K classrooms.

  1. Stay engaged with the children and demonstrate that you care about what they think and have to say. Thus, form real relationships with them instead of just checking in with them occasionally or monitoring from afar.
  2. Set up a child friendly classroom that encourages children to explore. If children must ask for materials frequently or are told no frequently, this may stifle opportunities to talk with children about their play and interests.
  3. Show an awareness of children. Be proactive towards their needs and try to address them before they become a challenge. Some examples of this include having lunch ready before they are lethargic or showing signs of extreme hunger, noticing that a child is struggling with a task before he is upset, watching for behavioral issues and addressing quickly, providing individualized support for children who may need it either emotionally, physically, socially, etc.
  4. Allow children to take the lead in activities. Give them responsibilities and allow flexibility for whole group gatherings when children seem disinterested and provide a lot of choice in activities during free play times.
  5. Keep children busy AND engaged. These are two different but related things. Children will often engage in negative behaviors when bored, during transitions, or when activities are too hard or not enjoyable for them. If they enjoy the activity and understand why it benefits them (clear learning objectives), they will be both busy and engaged.
  6. Ask complex open-ended questions and allow dead airtime for the child to think. Asking very simple questions such as “What color is your shirt?” does not promote higher order or complex thought processes. Asking a complex question but leaving no time to answer also does not promote higher order thinking. An example of this would be, “Why do bees travel to different flowers? Is it because they need to pollinate them?” If these questions are asked back to back, the open-ended question becomes closed with a yes/no question. Also, give hints to answers when they are challenged by a task or a particular question. Avoid answering for them or doing for them without hints to get them towards a successful goal accomplishment.
  7. Try to relate all lesson plans to real life experiences of the children. Studying the grocery store or gardening with the children is more real world than talking about more abstract ideas.
  8. Engage in many back-and-forth conversations with the children and use new words (advanced language). If you define those words AND use them in context, you will be doing a lot to encourage language skills.
  9. Encourage children to predict and experiment during play and activities. See if they can figure out how something works or how to solve a problem on their own instead of always providing the answers.
  10. Praise children for a job well done, but also remember to give encouragement along the way to promote persistence in completing a task.

Tags : CLASSinteractionsquality tipsTeachstone

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