How Do Teachers Learn about Their Colleagues’ Teaching? Listening to Students

In previous posts, I have described and, yes, promoted teachers observing colleagues they admired and respected as practitioners. Such observations are direct ways of learning how colleagues teach and applying what has been learned to one’s practice. But there are also indirect ways teachers learn about how colleagues teach.

Fourteen years of teaching in three urban high schools taught me many things about teaching. I learned, for example, a lot about my fellow teachers not by watching them teach–I had no time to do so with a daily schedule of five 50-minute classes to teach–but by listening to students.

Every day, a number of students from my five classes came to my classroom before the school day started, during the one period of the day free of students in which I had to grade homework and plan, visited with me as I ate my bag lunch, and dropped by after school as I realigned desks and chairs in the classroom and erased chalkboards.

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