But she still faced a second dilemma. How do you involve every teacher in the school? Her answer was to encourage her colleagues to brainstorm what they were interested in learning, who they might want to buddy up with, and how they might work together. Based on this brainstorming teachers began to pair up. Brainstorming made it clear that the staff wanted to collaborate by co-planning learning activities, by observing each other teach and discussing what they saw and learned after these observations.
Time obviously was an issue for this school. A bit of creative scheduling helped address this challenge. Every Monday students at Lakelands have a 30 minute long whole school assembly, and the teachers involved in peer coaching that week are released from the assembly and they use that time to talk about what lesson coming up that week and to do a bit of planning. Once every three weeks students at the school have an hour long SRC assembly and the teachers involved in peer coaching that week are released from the assembly and they use this time for lesson planning and to arrange visits to observe each other in the following week. The principal’s financial commitment made it possible for a casual / relief teacher to cover three teachers classroom each week. Each of
these teachers had 60 minutes to observe a peer, and 30 minutes to reflect afterwards.
As they teachers started co-planning, Melanie worked to make sure the teachers built trust as they collaborated. She spent time helping them understand and practice positive, constructive feedback, and the educators reviewed and work to apply their group norms. Each of these skills got more important as they began observing each other and started to reflect on what they saw and ask peers why they did some things.
Tune in next week for the last installment of When Opportunity Knocks.