A Learning Observation

I have pledged to make myself spend two half days a week (at a minimum) doing nothing but visiting classrooms.  I want to connect with students, see the work that they are doing, watch my staff and highlight the exemplary practices I see, and do everthing I can to promote a positive learning environment.   I have found that by watching the students  I get a much quicker read on what learning is taking place.  I remember that as a teacher, I felt good when there was a lot of interaction amongst the students and interaction between them and myself as we went through the day’s lesson.  I was sure that I was keeping students engaged and that we were making good progress.  The problem that I did not realize was that I was only really interacting with a few students in each class and that many students were only partly engaged at best and at worst, completely unengaged.  I did not get an objective view of what was going on in my classroom until several of my colleagues and myself started a peer observation program.  We watched each other teach and gave each other feedback without the fear of the “sumative” evaluaton of an adminstator’s authority.  I learned from my peers that my students were more engaged when I did student centered activities, only lectured for short periods of time, and used a seating chart to help me determine questioning patterns.  I think I also learned more about being a better teacher by watching my colleagues teach and interact with their students.  I learned a lot about using Bloom’s Taxonomy and the Socratic Method of questioning by watching excellent teachers who taught in the rooms down the hall.  I know time is a premium for teachers, but if there is any way that you can find time to step into the room of a colleague, you may find that some of the best professional development is being demonstrated right around the corner.

Photo courtesy of the  Jordanhill School D&T Dept photostream on Flickr

One thought on “A Learning Observation

  1. You are absolutely right! Peer coaching is so powerful and a great, non-evaluative way to become a better teacher. The hardest part is getting teachers to take the risk of having another adult in the room while they are teaching. Once teachers become involved in this process…they learn from each other and have great discussions about pedagogy.
    Thanks for the post!

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