I do a lot of work with teachers. Most of it happens during their planning time as we plan, do (they teach), & reflect on the work.
Sometimes, I have an opportunity to watch that middle piece..the actual teaching, which is really interesting for me. I love having the chance to see the work that students do and what all of that planning work ends up looking like after the teacher has put so much time and thought into it.
I’m often at a loss of how to capture my impressions during these classes. I remember from my days as a teacher there being nothing worse than someone coming into your classroom, typing (or writing) furiously and then not hearing anything about it for days, weeks, or maybe never at all. Attempting to read into body language and facial expressions led to focusing more on the person in the classroom and less on the students and what they were supposed to be learning. When I was in a classroom this week, I wanted to give the teacher some feedback about what I noticed in their classroom as well as something to think about trying (we’re all about the risk-taking). But I didn’t want to send one more email, chock full of words.
Since I’m participating in #Sketch50- a fifty-day sketch note challenge it’s been on my mind a bit (we’re only on day four, if you’re interested in trying it). So when I went into the classroom, I only brought my iPad (which is very unlike me) and my sassy stylus. As the teacher was doing her thing, I tried to notice what kids were doing, and I ended up realizing something about myself. When I have my laptop with its 8 Chrome Browsers (I LOVE ‘Add a Person’) and my email, as well as my hangouts, & texts…it’s easy for me to get sidetracked and not give my full attention to the task I’m engaged in (tie into #OneWordEdu = Prioritize). So having my iPad open only to my sketch app helps me to give my full attention to the teacher & learners I have in front of me.
During the course of the 20 or so minutes I was in the classroom, I prioritized a few important things…the great rapport the teacher had with her class (that day was their second day with her), the engagement they had during one point in the class, and the culture you can see in the classroom. I also wanted to give her a specific something to think about that might improve her practice. As with most sketchnotes, I’d added in some doodles and was semi-apprehensive about sending it to the teacher- is that ‘professional’? I took a risk, sent it and it turned out that the teacher loved it.
Why might sketchnoting classroom visits be a good idea?
- It’s friendly and approachable. There’s colors, images, and your handwriting. It seems a lot less formal than other methods I’ve used.
- Since it’s different than the traditional email, it’s likely to stick in your memory better/longer/in a different way.
- It’s modeling alternative ways of note-taking and recording…that might end up being a connection for a student.
- I can be creative with my notes (and since it’s on my iPad) and yet I don’t have to carry around art supplies, which would be disruptive.
- I’m tapping into different learning strategies
- It’s relatively innovative. Sketchnoting (while awesome, is still in its infancy).
- It’s silent. I’m not tip-tapping on my keyboard while teachers are teaching and students are learning.
- I can move around with it, so if I want to talk to students or see what’s going on, I easily can.