It didn't take long for visionary dayle timmons to come up with an idea. She thought we could choose a topic and invite teachers on a voluntary basis to participate in a day of lesson observation and debrief. Principal Susan Phillips agreed to secure substitutes and give it a try.
Per our School Improvement Plan and based on data, science is an area of focus for us this school year. So to begin with the differentiated offering, we found it fitting to focus on the 5 E model, and two of our Science Council members agreed to invite observers into their classrooms. Last Wednesday from 10 am to 2 pm, we offered our first session and ten teachers joined us for observation lessons and debriefs.
After the group enjoyed lunch together, we headed to Lynn Patterson's Fourth Grade classroom or another lesson. The students were trying to answer the question, How does the movement of the Earth affect the position of the Sun? Observers were able to watch classroom instruction on the first two E's, Engage & Explore. The Engage began with the teacher showing students photographs she had taken of a sunrise and a sunset with captions. They discussed what could be causing a change in the position of the sun and students recorded their hypothesis. Next, they quickly reviewed their materials and a procedure lab sheet before students set off to conduct a lab to explore the guiding question.
The teachers who participated appreciated the opportunity, raved about their colleagues classrooms, and each had ideas they wanted to implement into their own teaching. As a coach, I took note of those teachers who seemed eager to share and asked for further opportunities, as well as those that remained more timid. I think that one of the most important learning opportunities came when there were ah ha moments from intermediate teachers visiting the primary classroom, and primary teachers in the intermediate classroom were priceless. An element of the day that I hope we continue. I plan on follow up discussion with these teachers individually to find out which new ideas grew for them out of this experience and which ones they've successfully implemented in their own instruction.