How CLASSY Is Your Staff?

As you plan to reopen and welcome your children and staff back, it is a good time to assess how aware your staff is regarding CLASS™.  For those of you who will be welcoming many new staff members, it may be time to introduce them to the domains and dimensions.  If you have a tenured staff returning, it may be the perfect time to take a deeper dive into CLASS™.  All of the dimensions are braided together to support children’s learning and development and are equally important.  Recognizing the relationships among the dimensions and domains is important when working to increase scores.

Just as no two staff’s requirements are the same, no two CLASS™ trainings should be the same. Our highly interactive and practice-based trainings are custom designed to meet the specific needs of your teaching staff.  Your training can cover the basics of all of the domains or dimensions – or it can focus on specific domains or dimensions.  Perhaps you want to focus on implementing CLASS™ across the classroom day, or maybe you want to look at what CLASS™ looks like in small groups or a whole group.  With our training you get to choose the lens through which you look at CLASS™.

We are excited to once again offer on-site CLASS™ based trainings and continue to offer virtual trainings. Our CLASS™ trainings show what high scoring (and low scoring) classrooms look like.  Hands-on activities may include small-group activities; pair and share; role plays; interactive activities.  All trainings include plenty of opportunity for question and answers.

For more information on our CLASS™ based trainings, or any of our other trainings and services, contact Susan Witek at (704)277-7473 or email susanwitek@hsessentials.com.

A Different Look at Pre-service Professional Development

classroomPre-service season is fast approaching and here at Essential Elements, we are more than a little excited to be able to offer both in-person and virtual training for all of our training topics. Our trainers are ready to travel or meet with you virtually. We are gearing up for a very busy pre-service professional development season! We have added a few circumstantial topics to our available trainings:

  • Helping Children Feel Safe in Today’s Society: COVID-19 and Racism
  • COVID-19 impact: Strengthening Routines and Procedures as Children Return to the Classroom
  • Partnering with Families to Navigate the Challenges Presented by COVID-19

 

Many of our clients have identified an increased need for CLASS based training after shutdowns, staff turnover, and virtual learning. As teaching staff and children return to the classroom, there are quite a few new challenges, including within the CLASS framework. How do we continue to offer emotional support with distancing and masks? How do we support student autonomy during meals, without family style meals and the ability to have children set tables or pass out food? With cross contamination guidelines, how do we continue to offer students choice of materials?

We have worked with our clients’ program staff to provide tools and resources to continue to create high quality classrooms and learning environments within state and local restrictions and the CLASS framework. We can frame your training based on management observation and internal or external CLASS scores.

We have also heard from clients that their Family Service Workers and Home Visiting staff have struggled with partnering with families virtually, making an already challenging position much more difficult.

Consider a customized training that addresses both self-care for these amazing providers, and the challenges these professionals are facing in delivering needed services to families and children. Let’s address how to create that “bridge” for families to connect after the last year of restrictions and difficulties.

We at EE are so impressed with all of you who have continued to support Head Start and Early Head Start children and families during these unprecedented circumstances, often while struggling yourselves. Each of you are that touchstone, making a monumental difference in the lives of the children and families you serve.

For a complete list of training topics, please visit our training page.

Is There Value in Conducting Virtual CLASS Observations?

CLASS observationsThe answer is yes! While most of us would prefer live observations, for many of our clients, this is not possible due to COVID 19 restrictions. Forgoing CLASS observations until such time that restrictions are lifted can have a cumulative negative impact on CLASS scores. Without the data that comes from comprehensive CLASS observations, data driven decision making is impacted. Teaching staff can drift from best teaching practices and the goals set forth from previous observations and coaching. Virtual CLASS observations will not only guard against drift; our clients have found the following additional benefits to virtual observations while operating during COVID 19:

  • Having access to uploaded video-taped teaching cycles adds an additional tool for Education Managers and Coaches to use when working with teaching staff on professional development.
  • More time to work with teaching staff using the classroom summaries, recommendations for improvement and video segments we provide, due to reduced class sizes and hours of operation.
  • The ability to target an underscoring content area of the day and obtain objective feedback from outside observers without bias. Meals are a prime example of a challenge directly related to new guidelines. For most, family style meals have been eliminated and teaching staff are struggling with how to implement meaningful teacher/child interactions as they pertain to CLASS during this time. We can provide feedback and recommendations on how to increase scores in this area within current restrictions.

 

Whether you are looking for program-wide observations inclusive of all activities during the day or want to focus observations and feedback on times and activities that are proving the most challenging for teachers, by nature of the virtual format, we can customize your observations to fit your program needs.

We are currently conducting comprehensive CLASS observations, remotely.  Programs can videotape 20-minute cycles of their classrooms and upload the videos to a secure drive, specific to your program.  Our Certified CLASS observers with extensive live observation experience and consistent reliability using the CLASS tool, will then observe and score your videos.  We will provide you with:

  • A debrief with the Head Start Director (and your Management team if you wish) to discuss the results of the observations.
  • We will provide you with CLASS scores for each classroom observed, a written summary of individual classrooms, highlighting strengths and recommendations for improvements that can be used by your staff for professional development, and a list of program-wide issues that are causing lower CLASS scores, as well as recommendations to address and correct those issues.

We are also available to conduct live, in-person observations for those programs that are able to invite observers into their classrooms.

To learn more or schedule your CLASS observation, contact Kristine Cortina at (704) 451-3255 or kristinecortina@hsessentials.com.  You can learn more about our other services at www.HSEssentials.com.

Beyond Training

Head start servicesYou know what our high-quality trainings can do for your program, whether it be for your teaching staff, your family service workers or your Board of Directors and Policy Council.  We can also help you with our other services.  Your time is valuable, let us help you.

We offer the following services:

  • Grant Writing. We write your grant application. First, we collect information about your program. We then write the entirety of your grant application and tailor it to your program. We’ll highlight your strengths and include all the requirements necessary in the instructions.
  • Strategic Planning. Knowing where you are going is key to a program’s success. Our strategic planning services provide an opportunity to come together, as a team, and plan for the future.  We review your program’s mission and vision (or help you create them) as well as your guiding principles.  We work together to analyze your program’s strengths and challenges.  We work with you to create both long-term and short-term goals.
  • Annual Reports. Your Annual Report should capture the activities, experiences and accomplishments of your program. We will work with you to include all information required by the Head Start Performance Standards, as well any additional information which will highlight the successes of your program.  We will highlight your program’s mission, vision and core values.
  • Wage Comparability Studies. Being competitive when it comes to salaries and benefits is important. It ensures that you can hire, and retain, the best employees.  We review your program’s current salary and benefits structure, and then compare it data collected from comparable agencies.  We go beyond collecting the data. We analyze it and explain it using charts, graphs and narratives.  Armed with this information you can ensure that your program remains competitive.
  • Community Assessments. Your Community Assessment should do more for your program than fulfill a requirement; it should be a working document. It should be a resource when writing your Refunding Application, your Recompetition Grant Application, or when applying for other grants.  Our Community Assessments are custom designed to meet the specific needs of your program or agency, while meeting the requirements of the Head Start Performance Standards (and those of your CAP or other program regulations).  We also include information on Covid-19 and it’s impact on your program and the families that you serve.
  • Policy and Procedures Manuals. We can rewrite your Policy & Procedure Manual (PDM, Program Governance & all content areas) and turn it into a user-friendly document.  The Policy & Procedure Manual will be concise, with easy to find specific policies, and procedures and reflective of the Head Start Program Performance Standards.  We recommend that the order of the Policies & Procedures in the manual are reflective of the order of the Head Start Performance Standards.  We further recommend that your procedures are kept broad enough so that your program can accomplish them without having to change the policies. It also protects you so that, during a Review, you are never caught not following your own policies.

For more information on any of these services, or to request a sample, please contact susanwitek@hsessentials.com.

Why CLASS Observations In The Spring?

Spring is an ideal time to conduct CLASS observations. With more than half the school year over, education staff have had pre-service training, in-service training, and coaching from your Education Coordinators and specialists. Spring is the perfect time to evaluate not only where you are with CLASS scores, but what is working and what may not be, in terms of teacher/child interactions, as well as taking professional development to a deeper level.

CLASS observations in the spring, with direct feedback for opportunities for improvement, will identify areas where teaching staff need support and is an excellent way to identify your pre-service training needs.

Whether your staff are struggling with challenging behaviors, trauma informed care, maximizing available instructional time during transitions and routines, or asking the juicy questions for instructional support, this is the time to “take stock” and identify content area for staff training, before the new school year.

Our CLASS observations include a detailed summary for each classroom, program wide opportunities for improvement and growth, and a comprehensive debrief with management.

We currently have availability in March, April and May for CLASS observations and are reserving trainers and dates for the preservice season!

The Data That Comes From CLASS Observations

Are you looking for someone to come to your program and conduct CLASS observations for the 2019-2020 school year? Are you preparing for a federal CLASS review?

At Essential Elements, we conduct CLASS observations for Head Start programs.  As outside observers, we have the objectivity needed to observe classrooms without the possibility of bias. Whether you are struggling with the complexity of the Instructional Support Domain, or you have discovered, that as you focused on raising scores in Instructional Support, your scores have slipped in Classroom Organization or Emotional Support, we can assist you!

The data that comes from CLASS observations is invaluable… provided the observations are conducted by objective certified CLASS observers and the CLASS tool is implemented with fidelity.

We conduct comprehensive CLASS observations that include the following items:

  • Certified CLASS observers with extensive live observation experience and consistent reliability using the CLASS tool. We have English-speaking and bilingual (English/Spanish) observers.
  • A debrief with each teacher is provided after the observation in order to give them immediate feedback (strengths and opportunities for improvement).
  • The opportunity for your Education Coordinator or Mentor Coach to sit in on the debriefings with teachers – for continuity purposes.
  • The opportunity for your Education Coordinator or Mentor Coach to “double code” with one of our observers to calibrate scoring.
  • A debrief with the Head Start Director (and your Management team if you wish) to discuss the results of the observations.
  • We will provide you with CLASS scores for each classroom observed, a written summary of individual classrooms, highlighting strengths and recommendations for improvements that can be used by your staff for professional development, and a list of program-wide issues that are causing lower CLASS scores, as well as recommendations to address and correct those issues.
  • In addition, we can offer a highly interactive and custom designed CLASS training based on the results of your classroom observations, that targets the domains and dimensions that scored the lowest in the CLASS observations.

To learn more or schedule your CLASS observation, contact Kristine Cortina at (704) 451-3255 or KristineCortina@hsessentials.com. You can learn more about our services at www.HSessentials.com.

CLASS Training to Increase Your Instructional Support Scores

As we all know, it’s essential to have high CLASS scores. High scoring classrooms are a great indicator of positive teacher/child interactions that effectively support children’s learning and development. This leads to successful CLASS Reviews as well as best practices in the classroom. Most Head Start programs score lowest in the Instructional Support domain. This is understandable as some of the indicators within Concept Development, Quality of Feedback and Language Modeling are complex.

This hands-on training will discuss and demonstrate specific strategies for each of the indicators and behavioral markers under each of the dimensions within Instructional Support.Utilizing the teachers’ daily schedule, we will provide concrete strategies on how to attain high CLASS scores in Instructional Support. This targeted training will focus on ways to implement Instructional Support throughout the day. We will demonstrate how to naturally incorporate high scoring Instructional Support during large group activities, small group activities, center time, transitions and routines, meals… every part of the Head Start day!

This custom designed training will include items such as:

  • Analysis and Reasoning: Learn how to integrate the “how” and “why” of children’s learning.
  • Integration: Learn how to effectively make meaningful connections from new to prior learning.
  • Scaffolding: Learn how to provide assistance, feedback and questioning to assist children in continuing to learn and work at a higher level.
  • Feedback Loops: Learn how to increase language through sustained conversations, comments and follow-up questions in supporting a higher level of insight and comprehension.
  • Repetition & Extension: Learn how to acknowledge and build on each child’s unique ideas and contributions to a lesson or conversation.
  • Self- & Parallel Talk: Learn how to best map both your actions & the children’s actions as a means for language modeling.

The entirety of the training will be framed in terms of the Head Start classroom – including what a “7” looks like for each of the indicators and behavioral markers under Instructional Support. We will offer practice-based strategies to increase CLASS scores in each of these indicators and behavioral markers. We will address best practices as it pertains to teaching behaviors and interactions.

If your program’s scores are lowest in Emotional Support or Classroom Organization, we can focus on that domain instead.

A variety of learning styles will be explored such as videos, role plays, small group activities, pair and share, question and answer sessions, and other interactive exercises. The participants in this training will have many hands-on opportunities to see what high-scoring Instructional Support looks like – as adult learning is best when the participants can see, feel and experience the information that is being presented.

Are you looking for highly interactive and custom designed “CLASS Training to Increase Your Instructional Support Scores”? Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at kristinecortina@hsessentials.com.

Hands-On CLASS Training

Are you looking for CLASS training that is relevant to your Head Start classrooms and that inspires your Head Start teaching staff to increase their CLASS scores? Are you looking for CLASS training that is highly interactive and fully engages your Head Start teaching staff in practice-based learning?

As you know, it’s important to have and maintain high CLASS scores. High scoring classrooms are a great indicator of positive teacher/child interactions that effectively support children’s learning and development. This leads to successful CLASS Reviews as well as best practices in the classroom.

Effective CLASS training consists of keeping the teachers highly engaged by utilizing a “learning by doing” approach. It’s based on the principles of adult learning, which results in high impact learning. This hands-on strategy allows the teachers to take back the information that they learn in the training and implement it in their classrooms. Adult learning is most effective when the participants can see, feel and experience the information that is being presented.

We offer highly interactive and practice-based CLASS training designed to increase CLASS scores. The training will be custom designed to meet the specific needs of your Head Start teaching staff. It can cover all of the domains and dimensions – or it can focus on specific domains or dimensions. This hands-on training will include specific examples and effective strategies in terms of the Head Start classroom.

Our CLASS trainings include showing video clips that demonstrate the interactions and teaching strategies that you want your teachers to display. We take each domain and dimension and show videos of what each dimension should look like and should not look like. We take time to discuss the video clips and talk about what the teaching staff saw and how they can score a “7” in their classroom. The training participants will have many opportunities to see what high-scoring domains and dimensions look like.  Additional hands-on activities may include small group activities; pair and share; role plays; question and answer sessions; and interactive exercises.

Are you looking for Hands-on CLASS training? Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at kristinecortina@hsessentials.com.

Conducting Your CLASS Observations: More than Just Scores

CLASS observations are an essential piece of data-driven decision making.  The data that comes from CLASS observations is invaluable… as long as the observations are conducted by objective observers and the CLASS tool is implemented with fidelity.

CLASS observations can provide you with a tremendous amount of data – data to prepare for a successful CLASS Review, data to improve teacher practices, data to make decisions about professional development as well as data to individualize mentor coaching services, just to name a few.

We conduct comprehensive CLASS observations that include the following items:

  • As outside observers, we have the objectivity needed to observe classrooms without the possibility of bias.  We have English-speaking and bilingual (English/Spanish) observers.
  • We will debrief with each teacher after the observation in order to give them immediate feedback (strengths and opportunities for improvement).
  • We offer the opportunity for your Education Coordinator or Mentor Coach to sit in on the debriefings that we do with teachers – for continuity purposes.
  • We will debrief with the Head Start Director (and your Management team if you wish) to discuss the results of the observations.
  • We will provide you with CLASS scores, a summary of each classroom observed and a list of program-wide issues that are causing lower CLASS scores as well as recommendations to address and correct those issues.
  • We offer highly interactive and custom designed CLASS training that targets the domains and dimensions that scored the lowest in the CLASS observations.

Are you looking for an outside observer to conduct your CLASS observations and provide you with valuable data? Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at kristinecortina@hsessentials.com.

CLASS Training to Increase Your Instructional Support Scores

As we all know, it’s essential to have high CLASS scores. High scoring classrooms are a great indicator of positive teacher/child interactions that effectively support children’s learning and development. This leads to successful CLASS Reviews as well as best practices in the classroom. Most Head Start programs score lowest in the Instructional Support domain. This is understandable as some of the indicators within Concept Development, Quality of Feedback and Language Modeling are complex.

This hands-on training will address the indicators and behavioral markers under each of the dimensions within Instructional Support. Utilizing the teachers’ daily schedule, we will provide concrete strategies on how to attain high CLASS scores in Instructional Support. This targeted training will focus on ways to implement Instructional Support throughout the day. We will demonstrate how to naturally incorporate high scoring Instructional Support during large group activities, small group activities, center time, transitions and routines, meals… every part of the Head Start day!

This custom designed training will include items such as:

  • Analysis and Reasoning: Learn how to integrate the “how” and “why” of children’s learning.
  • Integration: Learn how to effectively make meaningful connections from new to prior learning.
  • Scaffolding: Learn how to provide assistance, feedback and questioning to assist children in continuing to learn and work at a higher level.
  • Feedback Loops: Learn how to increase language through sustained conversations, comments and follow-up questions in supporting a higher level of insight and comprehension.
  • Repetition & Extension: Learn how to acknowledge and build on each child’s unique ideas and contributions to a lesson or conversation.
  • Self- & Parallel Talk: Learn how to best map both your actions & the children’s actions as a means for language modeling.

The entirety of the training will be framed in terms of the Head Start classroom – including what a “7” looks like for each of the indicators and behavioral markers under Instructional Support. We will offer practice-based strategies to increase CLASS scores in each of these indicators and behavioral markers. We will address best practices as it pertains to teaching behaviors and interactions.

If your program’s scores are lowest in Emotional Support or Classroom Organization, we can focus on that domain instead.

A variety of learning styles will be explored such as videos, role plays, small group activities, pair and share, question and answer sessions, and other interactive exercises. The participants in this training will have many hands-on opportunities to see what high-scoring Instructional Support looks like – as adult learning is best when the participants can see, feel and experience the information that is being presented.

Are you looking for highly interactive and custom designed “CLASS Training to Increase Your Instructional Support Scores”? Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at kristinecortina@hsessentials.com.