Reflecting on #ObserveMe

In a previous post, I wrote about the #ObserveMe movement at my high school. For seven days, I asked the staff to post the pineapple sign (international symbol of hospitality and welcome) listing one or two feedback requests. My process was to collect the names of the teacher participants daily and then to email out a list of names, periods open, and classroom numbers. On a large campus like ours, I didn’t want travel time to be a participation detractor. The number of participants varied over the seven-day initiative, from five to 11 each day. At the end of the seven days, I asked the staff to complete a Google Form about the experience.

Teachers who did not participate by hanging the sign cited time pressures and not enough notice as the main reasons for holding back.

Teachers who did not visit other classrooms during their planning stated similar reasons, “drowning in grading,” “it was a busy week for me,” and “just one more thing to do.”

Teachers who did participate by hanging the pineapple sign on their doors, said they chose to do so because, “I like feedback and getting a different perspective,” “I enjoy having an open door policy to learning. We don’t get enough time to share our achievements and concerns,” “I wanted other teachers points of view on how to handle technology stuff and of course, off-task student behavior.” And my favorite, “honestly…because I was asked.” That one hit me hard. I think of myself as a friendly and open person and the last thing I want is for my colleagues to see me as a pusher, or someone whose ideas have to be followed no matter what. That’s not how I see myself as a leader. I’m reflecting on that comment.

Teachers who participated by visiting other classrooms said they “like seeing other strategies that I could use in my own classroom, ” or ” I am always interested in seeing how my colleagues approach diverse topics. It’s fun to encounter talent,” and “I like seeing other teachers–their environment, structure, and vibe always interest me,” and finally, “I wanted to view different engagement strategies within classrooms.”

By my estimate, about 25% of the building participated by either hanging the sign or visiting rooms. I had hoped for more. On the upside, 100% of the respondents to the survey said they would be willing to try #ObserveMe again in the second semester.

That’s something for me to remember. I’ve been reading about #ObserveMe since August and I’ve been thinking about how best to roll it out at my school. It took me until November to make the move. I had three months to ponder the idea. My colleagues had one week.

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