Reflections from Katie: October 13, 2016

“There were a whole bunch of teachers in my classroom today watching what we were doing!” Is this something you have heard from your child, and perhaps wondered what was going on? What exactly are the teachers watching? Is something wrong? Who is really learning from whom here?

Over the past year, we have developed a method for learning with and from one another as educators that we call Collaborative Observations. Cambridgeport teachers are incredibly reflective, always looking for ways to improve their practice. We continually engage in professional development to deepen our understanding and become better educators. We have found that the best way to dig into conversations about teaching and learning is when we have a common experience to examine, discuss, and reflect upon. The way we do this is by observing each other teach and discussing how we saw children engage with the learning opportunities presented.

When we first started doing this, students were often distracted by the visitors in the room and it was hard to know if what we were observing was really what we would see if we were, instead, invisible. Because we don’t want to influence the teaching, but rather learn from it, the observers generally do not interact with the children when they are observing. Again, at first this was strange for the students. They’re used to having the adults in the room be available to help them or at least chat with them. But they are getting used to it, and often look up, smile, and then return their focus to the learning at hand.

I share this practice with you for two reasons. First, I do recognize that for some students, this is still kind of strange, and they may want to tell you about it, and this gives you the background to understand what they’re talking about. Second, and more importantly, I share this practice because I believe that this is the kind of thing that makes Cambridgeport a vibrant learning community. Our teachers are lifelong learners. Engaging in this kind of hands-on learning is a vital part of our ever-deepening understanding of how children learn. And this is another piece of what makes Cambridgeport a special place for your children to learn and grow.