Our state has a new appraisal system for teachers, and goals for professional growth are a huge part of it. Within 24 hours on the Twittersphere I came across two great suggestions for helping teachers with this process.
First, I read a post by Jennifer Gonzalez on “Cult of Pedagogy.” Jennifer describes something called a, “Pineapple Chart.” This chart is displayed in a central location at the school such as the lounge, and gets its name from the tradition of pineapples representing hospitality. Each week, a blank chart is hung, and teachers can fill in spots to invite the staff to observe special lessons that they are doing that may be of interest. No one is required to invite, and it isn’t mandatory to attend. If one does choose to (inobtrusively) pop in on one of the lessons, there is no minimum time and no responsibility to take notes. If you think what you are teaching might be of interest, put it on the chart. If you want to learn about something in particular, visit a teacher who can model it for you.
Not quite as casual as the Pineapple Chart is Robert Kaplinsky’s “Observe Me” sign. (H/T to Jodi Harris for sharing this!) Teachers who hang these on their doors are also inviting people into their classrooms, but they are asking for feedback on specific goals they list on the signs. If there isn’t time for enough people to do live observations, there is even a sign version that offers a QR code that links to videos of the teacher’s lessons. Along with the “Observe Me” sign, some teachers even include a clipboard with copies of the rubrics used for appraising the selected goals.
Watching our colleagues teach gives us new ideas for improving our own teaching. Getting feedback from our colleagues is also invaluable. Both of these suggestions are wonderful ways to promote professional growth and are probably far more effective than the traditional staff development model.