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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Give Your Teachers a Hall Pass

I had the opportunity to sit in on some great leadership development workshops last week.  They were taught by a master and the room was filled with bright, engaged administrators.  I could not help but think about how wonderful it was that their district had invested in this time for them to train and work together.  It was a great experience to watch them all, both presenter and participants,  at work.
It got me thinking (here I go again) that there are also great benefits of watching our colleagues at work in the classroom.  I thought about the times that I had sat in on other teacher’s classes (usually because I was fixing their printers) and marveled at some of the techniques they used, how the kids reacted and what they were teaching.  It was eye opening and I was amazed at what went on in other teachers’ classes.

Observation Open Houses
I mentioned this potential value in a twitter chat last night (#NJED) on PD (which someone pointed out should be just called learning and not be relegated to just a time period) and Dan Layton (@danlayton2) mentioned “Observation Open Houses.”  How cool does that sound?  He tweeted that you “gather teachers with similar goals, get subs for them, let them watch each other, have lunch and discuss the way to implement” (another great example of a 120 character tweet that can change a practice in a school).  That sounds like a powerful  idea on two levels:
1.  Besides the teaching pedagogy and the content (both very important), you get to see the other teacher’s routines and structures, set up, transitions, etc.
2.  You may get to see some of your students in a different light – different teacher, different peers and different subject area may allow you to get some insights as to what sparks that child.
      Get a Hall Pass!
There is no doubt that you can learn something just walking across the hall in your school.  Imagine if that learning was focused and intentional?  I have certainly learned from many teachers, administrators and presenters over the years.  Some have had immediate impact on what I do and how I do it. 
What has your experience been?  Are you given the opportunity to observe your peers at work?


  1. I am getting my hall pass now!

  2. I think it is a great idea. I also think it is a good idea to have a context/lense to know what you are specifically looking for. Otherwise, it may be just a "visit" and not reach the full potential of the purpose

  3. Sandra, very interesting post! We're on the same track. In Uruguay we've been using peer observation for a long time now, and it has brought only positive feelings and an improvement of teachers' praxis and students'performance. I truly believe this practice used more often is very beneficial on the short and long run. Cheers!

    Gabriela from Uruguay

  4. Try using the Danielson Framework as a rubric. It can help you pinpoint solutuions/ suggestions when observing each other.

  5. Thank you for the feedback! (and all the way from Uruguay-I will have to check the pin on my map!) I like the idea of having a context and will take a look at the Danielson Framework. I really appreciate you sharing!