Technical Assistance - Public Preschool

The Pre-K Technical Assistance program at the Maine Department of Education is a strengths-based program intended to support and guide public pre-k and their community partnership classrooms in high-quality program foundations for the young learners across our state.  Our focus is on bringing best practices to pre-k classrooms, and continued alignment to Chapter 124: Basic Approval Standards for Public Preschool Programs. We continue to offer support, guidance, and resources through professional development opportunities, bi-monthly newsletters, in-person visits, and many other ways after the visit process occurs.  Please reach out at any time to Marcy Whitcomb, Public Pre-K Consultant at the contact information listed below.

Technical Assistance (TA) Procedure
  • Twice yearly (September and January) the Public Pre-K Consultant will host two 45-minute virtual Technical Assistance overview sessions, including time for questions. One session will be intended for administrators and directors and the second will be intended for classroom educators and support staff.
  • The Consultant will reach out via email to schedule the initial visit at least two weeks in advance.  The TA schedule consists of the classroom observation and district leadership meeting, as follows:
    • Classroom observation utilizing the CLASS™ Interactions and Environmental tools (see the About section for more information on these tools) is approximately two hours per classroom.
    • The district leadership meeting will be held either in person the day of the classroom visit, or at a mutually agreed upon time via a virtual platform.  This meeting is completed with district administrators and partnership staff (if applicable), including, but not limited to, Superintendent, Principal(s), Pre-K Coordinators, Director(s) of any partnership programs, Curriculum Coordinators, and can include classroom educators, if applicable.
  • The Consultant will reach directly to classroom educators to obtain a copy of the classroom daily schedule to help with visit scheduling, and can host a virtual meeting, if necessary, to answer questions regarding the visit or observation tools.
  • On the day of the visit, the Consultant will arrive at the previously agreed upon time, follow all health and safety protocols, and proceed with the classroom observation(s) and leadership meeting, as scheduled.
  • Following the visit, the Consultant will complete the District Report, which is sent directly to the Superintendent along with other contacts, as desired by the School Administrative Unit, which includes a signature page.
  • The Consultant will complete a CLASS™ report to be sent directly to the classroom educator and offer an optional virtual debrief meeting, to be scheduled at the educator's convenience.
Preparing for Your TA Visit - Administrator and Directors
  • The MDOE Pre-K Technical Assistance Checklist should be reviewed prior to the classroom visit and leadership meeting.  The items on the list will inform the conversation, and the District Report.  Please note that only the MoU with CDS and the SAU and the classroom schedule(s) should be emailed directly to the Consultant prior to the visit (contact information below)
  • The leadership meeting can take place on the day of the classroom visit in person, or via zoom at a convenient time.  The Superintendent, Principal(s), Pre-K Coordinator(s), partnership Director(s) (if applicable), and any other individuals that the district feels is important to include should be in attendance.
  • The Pre-K Consultant will communicate with the Director(s) of any partnership programs and classrooms, if applicable, regarding the virtual information session, dates of proposed visit, and specifics of the administrator meeting
  • The consultant will put together a District Report outlining the components of the program discussed in the meeting and send it for Superintendent’s review and signature approximately two weeks following the meeting.  A virtual session can be set up at the districts’ request to discuss any aspect of the report.
Preparing for Your Technical Assistance Visit - Classroom Educators
  • The Pre-K Consultant will send out a zoom invitation for a virtual session in September, for a fall visit, or January, for a spring visit, outlining the visit and the observation tool, with time for questions.
  • The CLASS™ Interactions and Environmental observation tool, by TeachStone, will be used by the consultant during the observation.  Consultants are Reliable CLASS™ observers.  For more information on the observation tools, visit the About the CLASS™ Interactions and Environments Observation Tool tab.
  • Educators will be asked to email their current classroom schedules to the Consultant prior to the visit, enabling the consultant to schedule the observation times.
  • Educators and Classroom staff should feel free to reach out to the consultant at any time with questions during the visit process, or after.
What to Expect During and After Your Technical Assistance Visit
  • The Consultant will arrive at the agreed upon time and follow all health and safety protocols within the school.
  • The Consultant will be in the classroom for approximately 2 hours.  During this time, the consultant will be observing and taking notes. All efforts will be made to be present but non-obtrusive or disruptive to the activities of the classroom.
  • If the administrator meeting is scheduled on the visit day, please hold approximately 1.5 hours to discuss programming specifics, and for any questions.
  • The Consultant will complete and email the CLASS observation report directly to the lead teacher(s). The District Report will be provided to the Superintendent and other contacts as decided at the meeting within two weeks following the visit.
  • Teachers may request a debrief meeting via zoom at any time to discuss the CLASS observation and/or report.
  • Administration can request a time via zoom to discuss the District Report at any time.
  • The Superintendent will receive a letter, and upon reviewing the report and having any questions answered, will be asked to sign the letter and email back to the consultant. 
About the CLASS™ Interactions and Environments Observation Tool
  • The Maine Department of Education (DOE) utilizes the CLASS™ Interactions and Environmental observation tools as part of the Technical Assistance Program.  The tools are published by TeachStone and used nationally as a resource to measure high quality interactions and environments in classrooms, from early childhood through high school.  The tool is divided into three overarching domains:  Emotional Support, Classroom Organization, and Instructional Support.  The indicators in each domain look at the interactions between children and teachers in the classroom in areas such as positive climate and student perspective, behavior management and productivity, and concept development, language modeling and quality of feedback.
  • Frequently asked questions provided by TeachStone:
    • Q: What is CLASS™?
    • A: The Classroom Assessment Scoring System™ (CLASS™) is a research-based tool that assesses the effectiveness of classroom interactions among teachers and children. These daily interactions promote children’s social, emotional, and cognitive development and lead to better child outcomes.
    • Q: What happens during a CLASS™ observation?
    • A: The CLASS™ observer moves around the room to watch and take notes on the interactions among teachers and children for periods of 15-20 minutes. Then, they stop to assign scores. They repeat this for 2-6 cycles. Observers do their best to stay inconspicuous and avoid interfering with classroom activities.
    • Q: Why am I being observed?
    • A: Research shows that CLASS™ measures interactions that predict child outcomes. So, observations happen for several reasons. The data might be required for program monitoring, requested by stakeholders, or part of planning or ongoing professional development. Check with a program director or administrator to better understand the purpose or to learn who might see data from your observation.
    • Q: How should I prepare?
    • A: You may want to let children know that there will be a visitor in the classroom. Otherwise, you do not need to do anything to prepare. It’s natural to be nervous but try to conduct yourself as usual during the observation. The goal of the CLASS™ observation is to capture what the classroom is like on a typical day.
    • Q: How long do CLASS™ observations last?
    • A: Observations in a single-age classroom will last about 2 hours. They capture interactions across a variety of classroom experiences. Observations may be paused when children are in outdoor free play.
    • Q: Who will be conducting my CLASS™ observation?
    • A: CLASS™ observations are conducted by Certified CLASS™ Observers. To become certified, observers must attend a rigorous 2-day training and pass an annual reliability test to show that they can use the CLASS™ measure fairly and accurately.
    • Q: How are the results of a CLASS™ observation used?
    • A: Observations identify the highly effective and less effective interactions in your classroom. With objective information, you can continue to engage in the interactions that matter most for children. Data from an observation can also inform professional development needs, for you or for your program as a whole. Ideally, a CLASS™ observation should be an informative experience for teachers.
  • The CLASS™ Environment is a companion to the CLASS™ Interactions tool and is divided into the same three overarching domains.  The CLASS™ Environment tool embraces the idea of the classroom environment being the third teacher in the classroom and looks for the factors in the environment that support educators in engaging in high-quality interactions.
  • For more information on the observation tool, training information, and videos, please visit the TeachStone website

Contact Us

Marcy Whitcomb
Public Pre-K Consultant
Maine Department of Education
Phone: 207-441-2561