Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Breaking Out Of Silos #EdChat

Last week, I stopped by a Spanish class and the students were throwing a party. It was the party unit I was told and the students organized a party and were learning all of the different words that go along with throwing a party. The students were fully engaged and having a great time as they worked through various Spanish words and phrases to communicate their thoughts.

Later on, I headed down the hall and stopped in a Math class and the students were working on multiplying with percentages. Some students were in groups, others were at the whiteboard, and some were watching videos. Every student was fully engaged as the teacher went student to student to see if they needed any help.

The Social Studies class was studying ancient Rome and the Chinese class was filming their own weather reports using a green screen. The Science class was doing blood type testing and the English students were exploring Greek myths.

I was always supportive of the idea of getting out of the classroom and visiting other teachers. I hated the mandatory framework that had been imposed in my previous job because it felt to evaluative of the teacher. I just wanted to see another teacher in action and see what I could learn. I always walked out of every class feeling like I picked up something that would make me a better teacher. It might be something that impacted my overall class lesson planning or something specific about a shared student and how to interact with them.

As a traditional classroom teacher, I had to make the time in my schedule to visit other teachers during an off hour if I wanted to see my peers teacher. It was not easy, but it was important. I knew that I didn't have it all figured out and there were experts all around me, we were just stuck in our silos. It can be nice to hide there from time to time, but it is no place to live as an educator.

It is so important for administrators and teachers to meet to find a way to support visiting other classrooms and just let teachers see other teachers in action. See how they are running a class and interacting with their students. Yes, observing something changes its behavior, but there are still things that can be learned by visiting other teachers over time. Visiting another class should not be viewed as a one time visit for the school year, but a long term process to support your own growth as an educator.

One of the things I make sure to do is send an email to teachers I visit and thank them for allowing me to visit. I mention a couple of the awesome things I saw and tell them I look forward to the next visit. Sometimes a teacher needs another teacher to point out what is working and it makes all the difference.

We are in this for the long haul and we cannot survive if we all hide in our silos and just hope everything works itself out. Getting out and seeing other teachers is just another way to dedicate yourself to becoming a better educator for yourself and, most importantly, for your students.

Do you have a system that works for you to visit other classrooms? Shoot me a message because I'd love to hear about it.