#ObserveMe to #Observe'em?
First of all, some required reading before you dive into this post.
The #Observeme challenge was issued at the beginning of this school year by Robert Kaplinsky, an educator in the United States who was inspired by some images he saw on twitter. Several teachers and administrators in the Halton District School Board took up the challenge.
Not familiar with #Observeme? The challenge is easy and anyone can do it. Simply put a sign on the door to your classroom or office inviting anyone into your space to observe what you do. Point out some things a visitor should look for, ask for feedback, be inviting. The great thing about the #Observeme challenge is that it isn’t about being judged, or showing off. Rather, it is about being open to sharing what happens in your classroom with others. Educators should be modelling good behaviours to their students and sharing is certainly one of those behaviours. By being open to sharing you are showing your students that you are willing to take a risk. That’s a key ingredient in being an innovative educator.
Participating in the most recent #IMMOOC meetup, I can’t help but wonder if it is time to go deeper with the #Observeme challenge. We can do lots by opening up our classrooms and allowing outsiders in. Certainly, there shouldn’t be closed doors in our schools. I spend lots of time roaming the hallways of my high school, walking in and out of classes to watch the magic that is happening or to chat with students about their experiences. It’s fun, as a math teacher, to see what happens in a history or drama class. Even spending five minutes out of my comfort zone allows me to identify different strategies that I’d like to use in my classes.
|It's tough to close your door when you have so many windows...|
I’m comfortable talking to other students and I believe accessing Student Voice is important. But I haven’t often spent time in the shoes of a student (not in a few years, at least!). I don’t know what it feels like to arrive to class for first period and spend the rest of the day learning. Are we placing expectations on students that we ourselves would find unacceptable? Would I feel as happy learning in my building as I do teaching in it?
These are important questions. So I’m wondering who else is ready to change the challenge from observing me to observing...them? Keeping in mind that it isn’t about judgement of the classroom teachers, or the culture of the school or even the behaviour of the students. What we want to shift is the culture of education. Are we expecting students to be compliant each and every day? Will that yield successful citizens once they leave our classes? Do engaged students sit in our classrooms? Does engagement always mean that they are learning? Have we empowered people in our schools to take charge of their own learning? Would you want to be a learner in your own classroom?
Are you ready to SHIFT your thinking? Participate in the #Observeme challenge. Better yet, try the #Observ’em challenge! Calling all teachers and administrators! Ask a student if you can shadow them for the day in their classes. Perhaps you could stretch yourself to shadow throughout their lunchtime, nutrition breaks, ‘chill times’ and after school activities! Arrange coverage with your school leader to make this happen. Challenge yourself to shadow classes outside of your own comfort zone. Try to visit classes in different pathways and subjects. Don’t be passive when you do this either, you are living the day of a student, so take notes, participate in discussions, write the quizzes. Then share your observations on twitter, #Observe’em and comment on the blog below. What were your insights from the day?