"The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other.  Without collaboration, our growth is limited by our own perspectives."  ~Robert John Meehan

To kick off the second semester, Walton Middle School teachers participated in their second round of peer-to-peer observations, stepping out of their own classrooms and into those of their peers.  While observing their co-workers, teachers took note of practices they could take away and implement with their own students.  They also pondered questions to ask to better understand the lesson and gave suggestions about ways to enhance the learning.  After being observed, teachers spent time reflecting on their feedback to determine nuanced ways to build upon their practice.

Many teachers expressed how much they benefited from the opportunity, as it provided them the opportunity to move beyond the four walls of their own classroom to glean unique ideas from their neighbors.  For instance, AVID teacher Mrs. Gaby Brown observed sixth grade reading teacher Mrs. Emily Kent teaching different ways authors convey relationships between ideas in text, while Mrs. Kent observed Mrs. Brown teaching students the AVID tutorial process.  After observing one another, their heads were spinning with fresh ideas.  These two teachers have decided to merge future lessons, even bringing the sixth grade social studies department on board.  In coming weeks, AVID students will pair up with reading students, teaching them how to complete a collaborative study guide form, while the reading students will practice the activity using social studies content.  Through this partnership, students will be deeply engaged with texts and will gain skills to equip them to become reflective about their learning.  This approach might never have been born if these teachers had not stepped out of their own classrooms and into that of their peers.

Across campus, eighth grade reading teacher Jade Tucker was especially impressed by Mr. Dennie Smith's approach to interactive bell ringers.  Mrs. Tucker learned how Mr. Smith incorporated Microsoft Teams into his routine, posing a question related to a novel students were reading, requiring them to respond via the online platform.  Students then read and responded to each other's thoughts.  Mrs. Tucker was impressed by Mr. Smith's ability to incorporate reading, writing, and discussion tasks with technology, keeping students productively engaged in their learning.

In professional learning communities this week, all teachers will share insights from their peer-to-peer experiences, continuing the collective learning process.  Before the school year ends, WMS teachers will participate in one more round of these observations, continuing to strengthen their practice together so their students can reap the rewards.