CLASS Institute Help Teacher find Calm in the Classroom
The CLASS Institute is a 12-month training program that improves interactions between teachers and children in early learning programs. Based on the CLASS observation tool, which identifies a teacher’s strengths and opportunities for growth, this in-depth program delivers training and coaching to improve student learning and ensure improvements are sustained.
A classroom of toddlers can be a stressful environment, even for a level-headed, patient, experienced teacher. In her second year as a teacher, Molly knew this all too well.
Meal time was a particularly stressful event. The class practiced family-style dining. The children and Molly ate together at a table, and the children served themselves. By design, the practice was supposed to offer responsibility and teach the children to make positive food choices on their own. However, even simple tasks like, scooping their own food or pouring milk created challenges.
Last year, the program Molly works for was recruited to participate in the first session of TFC’s CLASS Institute. After attending several group trainings, Molly had an opportunity to have one-on-one sessions with a coach, to begin implementing some of the strategies she had learned. In their first meeting, Molly’s coach asked her about challenges she faced in her classroom. Molly shared how she has trouble managing her classroom and faced particular challenges at lunch time. She shared a specific example from the previous day when a boy knocked over a glass of milk, spilling it onto another child. She described how the incident sent the classroom into a state of chaos — the boy began to cry, the other child got upset about being spilled on.
Molly’s coach asked her how she reacted to the incident. Molly responded that she became frustrated and upset and that the entire class was in an uproar. Molly’s coach reminded her of information she’d learned in her training — that the children will follow her lead, and that she needs to remain calm so the children can remain calm.
Over time, Molly worked on her reactions to lunch-time challenges. She practiced taking deep breaths when she became stressed and looking at spills as teaching opportunities — ways to help children master tasks by providing reassurance and encouragement. Anytime there was an accident, Molly would remain calm and tell the children, “It’s okay, we can help you.” In a few weeks, Molly had created an environment where students felt encouraged, supported and were comfortable attempting difficult tasks, because Molly was their to provide support and assistance.
One day during lunch, a new child was trying to pour milk when she tipped over pitcher, spilling milk on the floor. The child immediately became sad and almost came to tears. Then one of the children in the class, turned to the child calmly mimicking their teachers common phrase, “It’s okay, we can help you.” Molly joined in with reassuring and supporting words and the child’s sadness quickly passed. An incident that had previously caused chaos, had become an opportunity for a child to gain confidence in their ability to explore and learn.
By participating in the CLASS Institute, Molly learned to take a step back and calmly encourage children to be a part of the solution. With her new skills, she is effectively managing behavior in the classroom and encouraging her students to try new things without fear of failure.