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Merry-Go-Round the Classrooms

September 26, 2014

On Thursday, Peter McLean, Gretchen Hurtt and I visited three classes after lunch, spending a little over ten minutes in each class.  We went to Bowman Dickson’s PreCal math class, Sara O’Connor’s Advanced Biology class, and Giselle Furlonge’s Latin 2 class.

We found these quick visits extremely beneficial and illuminating, for varying reasons than visiting an entire class.
Observing three classes quickly let us see how three different teachers actually taught with similar methods and approaches.  Each brought tremendous energy and enthusiasm; each listened intently to what their students said; each was excited and curious about the topics and work.  They prodded and encouraged, and had clearly crafted a clear approach to what they were doing, because they used time efficiently and purposefully.

The other benefit of teaching rounds is what the visiting teachers get to do together: afterwards, we shared our observations, discussed strategies, reflected on our own classes and teaching in light of what we had just seen. Two of the teachers we visited made much more use of visuals than we did; the other teacher skillfully had his students work in small groups. Our collaboration afterwards – even the reflecting we were doing together going between classes – gave us the chance to share ideas and listen to another’s perspective. We learned as much from talking together as we did from silently watching the classes.

In the space of a 40 minute class and a 20 minute debriefing, the three of us experienced the equivalent of a full day of professional development. I urge you to sign up with John  Burk on one of these walks, or find some colleagues and ask other colleagues if you can visit.  It’s powerful to witness such inspiring teaching and learning, and it’s important to keep finding ways to collaborate and share insights and questions about teaching.

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