There are many different ways in which we evaluate ourselves such as student feedback, data, classroom response to lessons, formative assessments, and the overall "groove" of our class amongst other criteria. However, where do we get our ideas? We read about them, we think them up, or we hear something that we think is worth trying out. But what if I told you that right down the hall, a teacher was doing something that would work great I your classroom? Wouldn't you want to go see what it was? That is why peer to peer observations are so beneficial.
In most professions you have the opportunity to see others work. You can see what works for them, and what might work for you. You can observe their talents and visualize how your work flow could mesh with theirs. Because of this opportunity, you are more likely to improve more rapidly because rather than coming up with it on your own, you see it with your own eyes. To go even further, in a small school you have the chance to observe the Sam student you have, have had, or will have with another teacher. Let me tell you, that experience is an eye opener.
Since moving into administration I have has this wonderful opportunity this year. In addition, I still teach a Native American Studies class. The chance to observe has made me realize the areas where I can improve and areas where I could use some fresh ideas. When teacher are able to watch each other at work, they become better for it.
We recently began the Instructional Rounds process in which we observed all of our teachers with one school goal in mind. We did not right down how each teacher performed. We merely took objective notes with no names attached, scrambled the notes and then asked ourselves, are we meeting the goal and what can we do to meet it if we are not. This process has led to improvement school wide. And teachers were the driving force behind this positive change.
Administrators need to create time for teachers to observe each other. We spend thousands to bring in professional development when observing another teacher is often just as beneficial. This should be a priority in all schools.
We need to take out the evaluative and negative tone out of observations in schools. We need to come to an understanding that we must do whatever it takes to make our schools the best that they can be. We need to do all we can to be great teachers and great school leaders. If we truly want this we should be open to watch others and open to be watched I our classrooms. When those barriers are removed, we will become better at our craft and our students will receive a better education because of it. Leading is Teaching.