As a coach, I get the unique opportunity to observe my peers as they teach. It is such an exciting and humbling experience. I always knew I worked among some of the coolest people on Earth. However, when you watch a teacher in their element, they forget they have a guest, and engage with their learners it is a thing of beauty.
Teachers are indeed “on”; highly energetic, passionate about their content, and assessing informally from the start of their day until the very last bus leaves the bus lane. Every classroom is as unique as the educator at its helm.
“One of these parallels is of snowflakes and us. We, too, are all headed in the same direction. We are being driven by a universal force to the same destination. We are all individuals taking different journeys and along our journey, we sometimes bump into each other, we cross paths, we become altered… we take different physical forms. But at all times we too are 100% perfectly imperfect.”
Teachers all have the same end game in mind. They all want to enable students to become productive, independent,problem solvers, and contributing community members/leaders in tomorrow’s society. That is our direction and desired path.
Teachers take vastly different journeys throughout their careers. Some educators sprint through college to the classroom and stay safely banked there for the duration of their careers. Others decide to blow where the wind will take them and explore alternate careers, yet their passion for education finds them flurrying back to schools to gain certificates and share their worldly experiences with the students who cross their paths. Other snowflakes are shape shifting snowballs, constantly rolling down new paths in need of snow removal. These snowballs roll and grow at risk taking rates and tend to collect other flakey friends as they voyage into the unknown scenery of innovation.
Whichever snowflake you are, and maybe you’ve become a hodgepodge of these three, you are unique and the gifts you bring to your students are unique as well. No classroom I enter is ever the same. The model may look similar, but the instruction, the delivery, and the activities vary and create a wonderland of wondering thought and lifelong learning for the students who enter each new igloo of learning.
Aside from feeling inspired by the frosty temps outside, I am advocating for the idea of peer observation and reflection (not evaluation). As educators we tend to get stuck in our classrooms, passing each other blindly in a flurry of grading, paperwork, copies to be run, copiers to be unjammed, and meetings to attend. We may not even see colleagues on the other side of the building with the exception of whole building meetings.
We need to make time to learn from one another. Educators should be each others biggest fans. How can that happen if our paths don’t ever purposely cross? I feel strongly that peer observation is a great process for educators and should be built in to professional development. After all, growth isn’t possible if we never explore the unknown. If we only stick to the tricks that we know; we fall behind. Expressing a desire to view other educators as they practice their craft, isn’t admitting you’re lacking. It’s embracing the possibility of exploring and finding a gem you can take back to your learners. After all, #kidsdeserveit!