What happens when the phrase professional development is mentioned to teachers? It's rarely met with smiles and high fives. Unfortunately, the success of traditional professional development is not that great. When we attend a one day face-to-face pd and then return to campus never to hear about the session again, it is often forgotten and not implemented.
As I reflect on my own career in education, I can safely say that I learned the most as a teacher during the years that I traveled through the building daily as an ESL co-teacher. Why? Because I taught side-by-side with various teachers K-5 and learned strategies and techniques from my peers. I saw what worked and what didn't and I tried my new tricks right away. This was job embedded professional development at it's best. How can we recreate this for any teacher on campus even if they don't co-teach in multiple classrooms daily?
Enter Learning Walks----
Learning Walks can come in many forms and fashions and it's up to your campus how you structure them.
Prior to the observation, it is important for all teachers to understand the purpose of each observation.
For example: If teachers are going in to see readers' workshop, then both the demonstrating teacher and the observing teachers should have a clear list of what will be showcased. "Today you will see the class during readers' workshop. Notice that some students will be reading independently and writing on sticky notes while the teacher pulls a small group to work on stamina .Then the teacher will confer with a few students."
After teachers have mastered Learning Walks on campus, they may be open to allowing teachers from other campuses to come visit. It's nice to see how other campuses work and what they are doing. Visiting neighboring campuses to learn from one another can help both sets of teachers grow in their craft.
You might be thinking that you won't be able to get enough teachers on campus to buy into this idea. That may be true...at first. Baby steps. If you can get a few teachers to try it and be advocates then others will follow.
It's important as teachers that we open our doors and work in professional learning communities always learning to be better teachers than we were yesterday.
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