Saturday, November 20, 2010

Taking a Walk

At the beginning of this year I started doing some informal walk throughs whenever I had a free period to see how the technology was being used.  This year we have a lot more technology in the classrooms than ever before - SMARTboards in 20 of the primary classrooms, and carts of laptops available for teachers to book.  At the beginning of the year I was focused on the technology (was it working) and after I became confident that the technology was mostly working as it should I then started to focus on the teacher (was the teacher using the technology) and more recently on the students (were the students using the technology).  Having read this post by Peter Pappas on Observing a Classroom I now realise that it's time to stop focussing on the technology and start to focus on the learning.  Next time I go into a classroom I'm going to be less focused on what is actually being used and am going to be asking myself how the technology that is being used is helping the students to learn.

However let's not knock the benefits I've noticed from the walk throughs I've done so far.  To start off with there's a different sort of atmosphere in the classroom when I'm there to help the teachers to use the technology.  Of course I spend a great deal of time in classrooms already, but basically in those lessons I'm the teacher.  It's great to drop into a lesson where I'm actually not the teacher but can offer some support or just-in-time training to the person who is leading those lessons.  Often I'm met with "I'm really glad you're here - I just need some help with ....." (the sound has stopped working, I can't get the ink layer up ..... etc etc).  Teachers love having someone else in the classroom if that person is there to help and support them and not to evaluate or criticise, so I always feel very welcome.  I can talk to them about their technology needs and how to move forward without it seeming like such a big deal.  Whenever I'm in a classroom we are totally focussed on finding a solution to the technical problems they are having - as opposed to when I see those same teachers in the staffroom when they are away from the problem and all we can do is grumble about it.

I love the way that being an IT teacher has led to really deep and supportive relationships with the homeroom and specialist teachers and how we are moving more towards a co-teaching model as a result.  I love the way that students automatically know which teacher to turn to for the best help when there are 2 of us in the room.  I love the way that seeing my colleagues teach has led to me becoming a better teacher myself too.  And above all else, I really value the way that these informal walk throughs have led to teachers getting the just-in-time support that they need in the place where they need to move forward.

Photo Credit: The Walk by Danny Perez Photography


  1. Maggie,
    I'm pleased to see you found some value in the looking through the "student lens."
    Mind if I excerpt your post into a comment on my original post? I think readers would benefit from your take. I'll link back to your full post.

  2. Hi Peter,
    Thanks for responding to this post. Please feel free to add my comments to yours.
    Best wishes,