Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Power of Consistently Being in Classrooms #SAVMP

One of my favorite aspects of being in classrooms every day is the opportunity I have to provide teachers with feedback and talking with students about what they are learning.  I have made it a priority to do walkthroughs with teachers at least once a week.  I use a Google form (If you'd like to see what I use, please email me at and I can share it with you) for each walkthrough and send an email to the teachers with two statements- I noticed... and I wonder...- as I leave the classroom.  For the most part these statements are meant to be rhetorical or thought-provoking and don't require a response.  But sometimes the statements lead to great discussions or a response to my email.  Here is an example of what I sent out yesterday and the emails that followed.
"Here are my notes from today's walkthrough.
"I noticed that the students were seated on the floor near you while you were discussing scenarios from a book.  I wonder how you might use this for a blog post by the students."
Enjoy the day!

The teacher's response-
"I noticed that you came in right after our social studies lesson where we filled out a flow chart on indians and explorers."  "I wonder what you think when you come in during a content area and see me doing something else."
After I got this response, here is how I replied.
"I notice that you are building relationships and critical thinking skills.  I wonder why we as educators don't do that more often."
The teacher's response-
"Oh - em - jee!  I love your answer!  Thank you!  If I could build relationships and discuss topics all day long with students, I'd be in heaven! That is right up my alley!  Although I would have to sprinkle in SOME lessons in reading, math, and writing every now and then!"
If I wasn't in classrooms as often as I am, I don't know if I would have received an email like this from the teacher.  I hope that I have developed and fostered a culture where teachers feel comfortable speaking with me about my walkthrough notes and, frankly, just about anything else.
I have made walkthroughs a priority and it has been a perfect venue for me to provide consistent and timely feedback to teachers.  If you make it a priority in your day or week, walkthroughs can really help to foster a culture of trust and honesty that will benefit the teachers and the students.