Research has shown that collaboration between educators is effective for professional development, but that time management is often a challenge when coordinating such discussion among educators. As “creatures that live behind closed [classroom] doors,” finding time between grading, planning, and teaching is difficult and sometimes feels near impossible. Boss writes, “Collaboration takes time and planning. If classroom observation becomes part of a school’s strategy, administrators have to make time during the regular school day for shared professional learning among the staff. School leaders should also have to have clear objectives for the program of observation, and protocols to keep discussion on track and to ensure that the time isn’t wasted."
Boss offers three possible solutions for busy educators and administrators:
- Learning Walks
- Protocols for Examining Student Work
- Teacher Labs
With learning walks, teachers and student teachers walk through the school at a brisk pace and sit in on classes on 5-10 classes for only five minutes each, followed by a group meeting on the effective teaching practices identified during their walk.
In examining student work, teachers meet outside of class time to examine, analyze, and discuss their students’ coursework. This study reveals how a student is learning and how best to foster that learning. Colleagues can offer suggestions on lesson plans which will help the students learn the material in better and more concrete ways.
And finally, teacher labs are three hour labs in which teachers discuss a particular topic that they are interested in exploring (e.g. strategic learning). It’s an open forum with educators from different subject backgrounds which is then followed by a classroom observation hosted by a volunteer teacher. After the lesson, teachers come together to share their positive observations.
Boss reminds us that time, structure, and follow-up are integral qualities for professional development. TWIN-CS hopes to encourage learning in all forms, including learning from each other to create the healthiest and most effective learning environments for our students.
Keep following the blog to hear more about effective professional development!
- Melissa Hoppie, Graduate Student Researcher