Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Critical Issues in School Reform


I N N O V A T I O N S  I N
P R O F E S S I O N A L  C O L L A B O R A T I O N

Making Teaching Public

I. About the Program | II. On-Line Activities | III. Viewer Activities | IV. Resources


A Viewers' Workshop

The following workshop is designed for a group with little or no familiarity with the idea of making teaching public through peer coaching. The questions are directed toward a general discussion about the video. (See "A Peer Observation and Debriefing" below for suggestions on going beyond discussion.)

This workshop takes one-and-a-half to two hours, including the 30-minute video.

Part 1: Preparing to Watch the Video (15-20 minutes)

a. Have participants split into groups of three ("triads").

b. Give participants a few minutes to recall a time (or times) in their educational experience - either as teachers or as students - when they received significant feedback that changed the way they thought about and were involved in teaching and learning.

c. Ask participants to share their stories in the triads, using the question: How did the feedback you received change what you thought, how you acted, and what you believed about teaching and learning?

Part 2: Watching the Video (30 minutes)

Ask participants to assign one of the following viewpoints to each member in their triad (i.e., each person will pay particular attention to a different focus as they watch the video):

Viewpoint 1: what the students are saying about teaching and learning.

Viewpoint 2: what the teachers are saying about teaching and learning.

Viewpoint 3: what the coach and other administrators are saying about teaching and learning.

Part 3: Discussion of the Issues raised in the Video (45-60 minutes)

a. Facilitate a discussion of participants' responses to the three viewpoints above.

b. Ask each triad to combine with one other (to form a group of six) to consider the following questions:
  • How is peer observation, as modeled in the video, different from the usual models of professional growth used for staff development?

  • What are the potential strengths of this process? What concerns or questions does it raise for you?

  • On what student learning goal might you personally want feedback from peer observers?


A Peer Observation and Debriefing

You may want to try a peer observation and debriefing, either individually (with one or two colleagues) or with a group of colleagues interested in developing a professional collaboration. Because the value and success of this activity will be enhanced if all participants are knowledgable and well prepared, you are urged to consult several of the items listed in the Resources section and to discuss them together before you begin. It will be important to have consensus about the purpose and limitations of this activity.

Important note: This activity will require careful preparation as well as a specific commitment from the participants to nurture each other's teaching over an extended period of time.

1. Select, as a group or individually, a student learning goal or a common inquiry question.
Choose a question that is relevant to your own practice and school context. At Pasadena High School, one CFG has selected the common inquiry question: How do students use evidence? Other focusing questions might be: How is a particular learning objective being met? How are students interacting with one another in groups?

2. Set up Peer Observation Guidelines.
In developing norms, consider questions such as What should observers look for? and How will they give to the teacher observed feedback? The teachers at Pasadena observe and debrief in triads - two observers and one teacher being observed. They use standards of professional practice as background to an individual teacher's focusing question. The guidelines developed by the Pasadena CFG appear below. You may want to set different norms appropriate to your school context and previous experience with peer observation.

3. Arrange for two colleagues to observe your classroom and to debrief their observations with you, following your agreed-upon Peer Observation Guidelines.

(as developed by the Pasadena High School CFG)
1.Observations may be across subject areas or within similar subject areas.

2. Two peers will be the observers

3. the teacher being observed will:

a. contact the 2 teachers to set up the observation;

b. establish the focus or questions for the observation by providing observers with support material such as written questions or the lesson plan;

c. determine the process used in the post-observation debrief;

d. set the time for the debrief session which should take place wihtin 24 hours of the observation.
4. The observers will:
a. take notes during the observation;

b. provide feedback which focuses on the questions provided by the teacher being observed;

c. give the observation notes to the teacher being observed.
5. Three kinds of processes, which the teacher being observed might use to strucutre the debrief, are:
a. the teacher observed begins by reflecting on the lesson and the peer observers first respond to their colleagues reflections before giving the feedback;

b. the observers provide an overall impression and then give specifics on the questions of the teacher being observed; and

c. the observers immediately give specifics of the observation.
6. The key to all successful observations is that feedback focuses on the concerns, issues, or questions identified by the teacher being observed.

a. Select samples of work from the lesson that was observed.

b. Think about how you'd like to adapt your teaching strategies based on the feedback from the observation. In a later class, make an effort to incorporate these changes in your practice.

c. Select samples of work from a later lesson that reflects your thinking and adaptation of practice based on the feedback received.

d. Meet with colleagues (the same group you met with before) and, using an established protocol or any other process you want, compare the samples of work from the lesson observed and the lesson after you had made changes in your practice based on the observation. Framing questions like these are helpful:

  • How did the feedback I received change my thinking and teaching?

  • What were the results of this change?

  • What effect did the change have on student achievement in relation to my student learning goal?


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