Points of View

How Teachers Can Learn From One Another

Sam Stebbins

One high school in New Jersey has created a new method of professional development for its teachers. Their “Open Classrooms,” inspired by operating theaters in medicine and modeled after similar methods used in other schools, allow teachers to learn from one another through casual observation.

   

English teacher Jeff Krapels explains in an Edutopia article that the open classroom model offered the “power of a real-time demonstration with students,” and that teachers could receive “honest, non-evaluative feedback” from their peers.

              

Establishing an Open Classroom

The teachers signaled that visitors were welcome in their classrooms by placing a simple smiley face sign on their doors. Then, teachers could drop by another class and observe for a short time before returning to their own classrooms.

 

This process had the benefit of allowing new teachers to see how veteran teachers worked, and to show longer-serving teachers that there were “still new tricks worth learning.” Krapels notes that the informality of the Open Classroom “led to a more authentic professional development experience.”

       

Expanding the Open Classroom Practice

As the first school year using the Open Classroom model came to a close, Krapels and his colleagues noticed fewer and fewer teachers visiting each other’s’ classes. To make sure the program continued into the next year, they created a formal Open Classroom Wednesday, which encouraged more teachers to take advantage of the opportunity once a month. Krapels writes that “our first Open Classroom Wednesday was a great success. Nineteen teachers visited 24 different classrooms that day.”

 

In addition to allowing teachers to learn new teaching methods, Krapels notes that students are learning from the Open Classrooms as well. “…we are modeling responsible and reflective learning behaviors for our students,” he writes.


What do you think about Open Classrooms? Should more schools adopt this method of professional development? Read the article on Edutopia and then let us know on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn