We have been hosting visits since mid-fall for other schools to come in and see our classrooms, talk with our teachers, ask questions and hear what we have done to change teaching and learning. This week we had the first opportunity for a group of our teachers to visit another high school and learn with their teachers. It was a wonderful day at Lee HS with their Biology and Chemistry teachers and their SBTS (Tech Coach).
We spent some time in classrooms at the start of the day – visiting IB classes, team taught classes, bio and chemistry and more! We talked with some students and with teachers, learning about what they are doing that is working for them, how they’ve done it and why they like it.
Two of the items we talked about that stood out to me the most were the reasons why students & teachers shared that they preferred learning through activities like edpuzzle or a playlist on a hyperdoc AND the way that these teams have managed the work load.
First – the high school students shared that they liked the playlists and edpuzzles because they could rewatch if they missed something or needed to hear it again. Over and over, students said wh en the teacher was at the front teaching, they never would have raised their hands to ask for a repeat…but now they had the opportunity to do it. I liked what the teachers shared about being able to meet with students who needed to learn in a different way while the rest of their class was engaged with the activities they recorded and shared. If the teacher was at the front teaching, they would have no opportunity to meet with that small group. We’ve seen this in our teams who have moved from everyone completing the same activity at the same time – that opportunity to remediate and intervene right there, before time passes and the gap widens between students who understand and those that didn’t understand.
Second – it was wonderful to hear the struggles and the actions that these teachers at Lee have taken to overcome them. They know time is a challenge – creating and planning a whole new way of learning for their students takes time, something we all need more of. In order to plan ahead, they started last spring and spent three days with their team. They were hyper-focused on creating warm ups and exit tickets that they would use each day (all responses from the team went together, so they could quickly analyze the students’ understanding and adjust their pace/lessons as needed). These days invested last spring allowed the team to get ahead of planning this year. They have taken a day in the fall, and one after the first of the year to continue this team work, since the short amount of time in our CLTs each week is not enough to stay ahead. They had a structure of their class blocks that they agreed upon (warm up, lesson, exit ticket) and shared the burden of creating those materials with all team members.
We spent the afternoon together – learning and talking about real challenges and ideas that we can all implement in our classrooms. Maybe most importantly, we built some connections that will help us support our students all year long.
Unfortunately, teachers are often isolated from their colleagues, unless they give up their lunch and personal time to “talk shop.” Thank you to Lee HS and to FCPS for providing us this opportunity! I look forward to more chances to learn with teachers in their classrooms across our district!