BEST in CLASS: What Coaches and Teachers Say About It. Part 2: Teacher Perspectives

BEST in CLASS: What Coaches and Teachers Say About It
Part 2: Teacher Perspectives

To learn more, please check out our Part 1: Coach Perspectives blog

What does the BEST in CLASS program look like in action for early childhood teachers?

Teacher and coach working together

The BEST in CLASS program consists of 3 major components:

  1. In a 1-day workshop, BEST in CLASS trainers introduce teachers to 7 learning modules by viewing video examples, completing hands-on activities, and participating in role play scenarios with their coaches.
  2. Teachers and coaches also receive a BEST in CLASS teacher handbook with details on how to implement rules, pre-correction, behavior specific praise, opportunities to respond, corrective feedback, and instructive feedback.
  3. Teachers participate in practice-based coaching for 14 weeks with a trained coach, who provides guidance and support to implement the BEST in CLASS practices.

What is practice-based coaching?

Practice-based coaching (PBC) promotes a strong collaborative partnership between teachers and coaches to facilitate the use of effective instructional practices. The PBC process includes skills instruction on BEST in CLASS practices, shared goals and action planning, implementation support, classroom observation, and reflection and feedback (we include additional information about PBC in our Part 1 blog).

What benefits does BEST in CLASS bring to teachers and children in their classrooms?

Approximately one quarter of preschoolers enter schools with challenging and disruptive behaviors that negatively impact their learning and engagement with teachers and peers (Barbarin et al., 2007). When challenging behaviors persist, children are at-risk for the development of emotional and behavioral disorders. BEST in CLASS focuses on helping teachers foster positive relationships with children at-risk for persistent behavior challenges to minimize problems in the future and prevent school failure. Through the BEST in CLASS program, children at risk for emotional and behavioral disorders are identified as focal children.

Over the course of 14 weeks of PBC sessions, in partnership with their coach, teachers learn and enhance skills to implement the BEST in CLASS practices with focal children in authentic learning environments. For example, coaches work with teachers to support their use of behavior-specific praise with focal children by setting goals, observing the teacher’s use of praise, and providing supportive and constructive feedback to teachers. Coaches also work collaboratively with teachers to develop, teach, and use a small set of classroom rules that foster positive behaviors with focal children and their peers. Together, they come up with a plan to embed prompts about the rules in everyday classroom routines and appropriate and instructional responses to challenging behaviors.

What do teachers think about BEST in CLASS?

In previous studies of BEST in CLASS, participating teachers described their experiences in the following ways:

  • BEST in CLASS coaches understand teachers’ pressures and workload.
    “My coach was amazing. Just seeing her there in the room, she didn’t judge, you know, she just helped. It was great having her there. It really kept me going.”
  • Working with the BEST in CLASS coach is comfortable; they provide positive and constructive feedback. We discussed my challenges, goals, and developed a concrete action plan together.
  • There is always room for improvement, and BEST in CLASS helps you to become more aware of what you say and do in the classroom. Any teacher should be a part of this program—new or veteran—to help your children achieve and be successful.
    “There is nothing to lose and everything to gain!”

As part of a current study funded by the U. S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, SRI researchers sought to learn about teachers’ experiences with BEST in CLASS in multiple preschool sites across the country. In surveys, we found the following preliminary results:

  • Teachers are comfortable implementing BEST in CLASS practices and with the amount of support they receive (see Table 1).
  • Teachers think that BEST in CLASS practices are useful in improving child behaviors and the classroom atmosphere (see Table 1).
  • Teachers feel that their BEST in CLASS coach treats them like a partner, makes an effort to understand them, is tactful when providing feedback, encourages them to talk freely during meetings, and helps them stay on track (see Table 2).
  • Teachers also report that their BEST in CLASS coach consistently and extensively provides helpful feedback, shares useful examples, provides opportunities to self-reflect and examine data, and offers support to engage in action planning and meet shared goals (see Table 3).
  • Nearly 90% of teachers say they will continue to use BEST in CLASS practices; ALL teachers will recommend BEST in CLASS to another teacher.
  • Teachers shared several reasons for continuing to use BEST in CLASS practices including:
    “[BEST in CLASS] makes me a better professional teacher.”
    “[BEST in CLASS] went right along with the program we already implement.”
    “[BEST in CLASS] helped me minimize problem behavior.”

Table 1: BEST in CLASS Teacher Survey Responses

Table 1: BEST in CLASS Teacher Survey Responses out of a scale of 5. Comfort with implementation: 4.1; Comfort with amount of support received: 4.44; Improves challenging behavior: 4; Improves classroom atmosphere: 4.11
Items rated on a scale from 1 to 5 (1 = Very Low Level, 3 = Acceptable Level, 5 = Very High Level)

Table 2: BEST in CLASS Teacher End-of-Year Survey Responses

Table 2: BEST in CLASS Teacher End-of-Year Survey Responses out of a scale of 7. Treated me like a partner: 7; Made the effort to understand me: 7; Was tactful with feedback: 7; Encouraged me to talk freely: 7; Helped me to stay on track: 6.78
Items rated on a scale from 1 to 7 (1 =Almost Never, 7 = Almost Always)

Table 3: BEST in CLASS Teacher Exit Ticket Responses

Table 3: BEST in CLASS Teacher Exit Ticket Responses out of a scale of 5. My Coach...Supported self-reflection: 4.85; and I examined data: 4.86; Provided helpful feedback: 4.86; shared helpful examples: 4.85; and I created goals and action plans: 4.91; Supported my goals and action plans: 4.9
Items rated on a scale from 1 to 5 (1 = Not at All, 3 = Somewhat, 5 = Extensively)

Our research study will continue for 3 more years, and in future blogs we will report additional findings across study centers and preschools on the experiences and outcomes of BEST in CLASS participants. We will unearth more teacher and coach perspectives, examine BEST in CLASS outcomes on child behavior and teacher classroom management practices, and assess the impact of BEST in CLASS on teacher-child relationships and teachers’ sense of self-efficacy. Stay tuned! (And for more general information about BEST in CLASS, see


Barbarin, O. A. (2007). Mental health screening of preschool children: Validity and reliability of ABLE. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 77(3), 402-418.

Topics: Classroom-based intervention Early childhood Educator professional development and support Externalizing behaviors Internalizing behaviors Researcher-practitioner partnership Social-emotional learning

Tags: Behavior support BEST in CLASS Head Start Practice-based coaching