Lately I have been tweeting about how the best thing for personal and student growth, improvement, data collecting, etc. is peer observations. This is something that I stand behind so strongly because of personal experience. Now don’t get me wrong, the right attitudes need to be in place for this to be successful.
1. You must WANT to do this and see the purpose.
2. You must know it is not one more thing you have to do, but something you GET to do.
3. You must be able to LISTEN with an open mind.
4. You must TAKE ACTION in some way based on this feedback.
I have written before about how lucky I am to GET to do these observations with my GCISD VALOR group. Let me tell you, there is not one observation we walk away from not learning something to take away and use!
This past month our Literacy Specialist Leader, Amy Montemayor, set this same situation up for all of us. When she told us about it I was so excited! For some reason, many people hear the word specialist in a title and automatically think we have all the answers. We don’t! We are learning and growing just like everyone else and we need to have those opportunities to do so. Something I often hear from other Literacy Specialists and others who may not understand our role is that we are on an island. I always have to stop right there and refer back to a George Couros quote:
We are not alone on an island, unless we choose to be.
I was thrilled we were given the time to observe other Literacy Specialists using the same Dyslexia intervention we are, as well as other ones because it allowed us to see how we can change simple things to make our instruction better. It allowed us to see small things we can change that we never would have thought of without an extra set of eyes!
For me, it was having extra sets of eyes on a group I work with that has me on my toes daily! I was dying for feedback on anything else I could do to make this current situation work better for us?! Even though we have talked about it in meetings, it wasn’t until I had people come observe that they were able to see and offer suggestions. I had an open mind listening to their feedback. I wasn’t defensive about what I was doing, I was vulnerable and wanting advice. I tried a few of their ideas the next day, and you know what….it helped!!
We can choose to be on an island and continue to hope things will change for us.(But really, we all know that doing the same thing over and over gets the same results!) Or we can choose to ask our team to come watch us and offer suggestions. That team can be anyone…principals, teachers from other schools, instructional coaches, liaisons, specialists, teammates..you name it. We are better together. Everyone wants to support others and help, we just have to ask!
I want to thank our leader, Amy, for creating the opportunities for these observations in a role that has never done this. A role that not many people look at and think we need to do this. Your innovative thinking forced us to be vulnerable. It forced us to make that scary jump. It has inspired many in our group and allowed us to see the importance of growing by learning from others. It is so refreshing!