“The best teacher learning comes from seeing each other in practice.” –Lainie Rowell
What if a school dedicated a year to focus on the strengths and ideas of each other? What if students walked by teacher’s classrooms and saw signs outside the doors inviting others in to observe their teaching? What would this tell our students?
Being observed is often nerve-racking and as educators we feel vulnerable having others observe our teaching practices. What if we flipped this to something that was valued and encouraged growth as teachers rather than something we often have negative feelings towards?
If you haven’t heard of this movement, I’m excited to tell you about #ObserveMe. This is a movement that began by Robert Kaplinsky @robertkaplinsky. Simply stated, it’s a movement that encourages a growth mindset in teachers where teachers observe each other during the school day and provide feedback specific to that teacher’s needs.
Many of you may be familiar with Pineapple Charts. These charts have similarities to #ObserveMe, but here are the main differences.
Pineapple Charts are located for the entire school to see in a common area, such as the teacher’s lounge. The teacher’s advertise what they will be teaching and if it’s something you are interested in learning more about, then you go to that classroom for professional learning and inspiration.
I think this type of chart in the lounge makes the thought of Professional Learning fresh, inspiring, and fun. What a great way to learn a new tool to use in the classroom! Did you even know there was an expert in using Plickers for student discussions just a door down from your room? Most often, the answer is no because we rarely get the chance to go in someone else’s room.
So, let’s take this idea just a bit further. The #ObserveMe method not only opens up the classroom to peers and other stakeholders, it allows for deeper feedback and reflection. In the #ObserveMe classroom, the teacher puts a sign outside their door. The teacher asks for very specific feedback to something he or she is striving to improve. This not only helps the teacher being observed, but it encourages growth from the teacher who is doing the observing. Being in the classroom and looking for that specific feedback may give that teacher inspiration and might alter his or her goals for the future. It’s a win-win.
The teacher being observed provides a QR Code or link to take the observer to a Google Form, where they can be specific in their feedback. Robert Kaplinsky suggests feedback on a 5:1 ratio. The feedback might include 4 positive things the visitor saw and one suggestion for improvement. I think it’s important that the school has norms for this so vulnerable teachers will feel empowered instead of defeated. You want to be honest but not offensive. You also want and need to get genuine feedback, not something vague such as, “You did a great job.” That isn’t going to help improve anyone’s teaching skills.
Here’s some things to consider:
- Asking for feedback might be harder than one might realize. Truly question what you’d like to know about your teaching techniques to make you better at your craft.
- Goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound.
- How will you use this feedback to change your practice? What is the time frame that you will turn around and use the feedback from your peers?
- Feedback should be used to inform your practice as an educator.
Ideas for feedback:
- Checking for understanding
- Questioning techniques
- Technology integration
- Student engagement (be specific)
- Students interacting
- Teacher role…is the teacher stepping back to let students problem-solve?
- Classroom environment
- Fostering critical thinking skills
- Allowing for the design thinking process
- Can my students describe what they are working on and explain why they are doing it?
- You can record video of yourself teaching and post it to Twitter! You can get feedback from educators all over the world the same way you would from the colleagues in your building.
- Share how this is improving your practice on social media!
- You could combine both the Pineapple Chart and the #ObserveMe to get people in the door!
- As time goes on, you need to change what you are looking to improve. Think of it as a call to action on becoming a better teacher. This call to action is constantly changing as we improve and grow.
Creating Your Door Sign:
We have so much to learn from each other and there is inspiration just a few doors down from you. Let’s empower each other and learn new teaching practices that will encourage greatness from our students.