All the way through my teaching career I have been privileged to have great teaching colleagues.They have been great because they are and were stunning practitioners, student centered, passionate and demanding the best from their students. But they were also great because of something else too.
With all of them, Nick, Steve, Alan and Doug, I have been able to walk into their classrooms with out feeling like I was intruding, to remain working at the front of the room as the classes switch and they came in a started their lessons and not feel out of place and often to remain there for a large part of the class. This is and was often reciprocated.
One of the best learning experiences that I have had was a colleague from another spending a day with me observing. No appraising, observing. It was a great experience and the conversations that we had were stunning.
Seeing my peers in action and sharing my own practice has been a huge help in shaping my teaching practice. Every time I observe a lesson or someone observes mine I learn from the experience. Fundamental to this experience and practice are some important key or core considerations:
- This is about the students, which is who we as teachers are here for. How can I make the learning of my students better by observing some one else teaching or by being observed.
- There is trust. There is trust to let down the facade of the structured prefect lesson and teach as I normally would. To openly allow others to observe you or be observed so that you and they may learn from the experience.
- That praise, reflection, critique and feedback are how we grow and develop. It is ironic that most of us will focus on the critique and ignore the praise.
I have been lucky that with my colleagues all of these core considerations were and are the norm.
One of the advantages that can be seen in the learning commons model which is increasingly becoming a feature of new schools is the inherent openness of teaching and learning. It no longer can occur behind closed doors, in a silo.