The Value of Peer Visits | TeacherSherpa Blog

The Value of Peer Visits

"The Value of Peer Visits" www.blog.teachersherpa.com - Have you ever had that one special elementary school teacher that just made you LOVE school?  The one who brought out your creativity and ideas, that you thought you had lost?  That kind, yet structured teacher…Written by Danielle Rivera – TeacherSherpa Co-founder

Have you ever had that one special elementary school teacher that just made you LOVE school?  The one who brought out your creativity and ideas, that you thought you had lost?  That kind, yet structured teacher who never raised her voice and made you feel calm the entire time you were with her?  That special, inspiring teacher who gave you back all the energy that previously drained you, especially on the most challenging days? I’m talking about that teacher next door, your colleague and friend, the one so welcoming and open to having other teachers come and visit her classroom.  That is just how I spent my day, observing an amazing and inspiring third year teacher, Megan Wehrle (1st grade – Rodriguez Elementary Austin, Tx).

The Classroom Environment

I strolled into Ms. Wehrle’s first grade learning space filled with soft lit lamps placed around the classroom, providing just enough light to create a calm, relaxing learning environment…sooooo inviting!   NO FLUORESCENT LIGHTS, yeah!  Children filled the room, working independently with no interruptions as Ms. Wehrle met with individual students.  These great little people didn’t miss a beat.  Writers writing.  Readers reading.  Spellers spelling.  This great teacher teaching had orchestrated it all.

I was taking it all in – snapping pictures of anchor charts, expectation charts, student’s writing, and the use of white boards during a spelling activity, as well as a cozy nook that served as a “Cool Down” area.  I, furiously, wrote as many notes as I possibly could.  There were so many things to remember and to take back and share with other teachers that I support.  I continued jotting down every question and wondering that filled my head! I was like a sponge, soaking up every drop of this inspiring young teacher’s ideas.

Impacts of peer visits

Wait a minute, you might say.  Aren’t you an educator with 18 years experience? 

Why yes, I am!  Would be my response.  And to that point, I am not ashamed to say that I learn something new every day in my profession as I work with teachers of all levels and experience.  I take away valuable ideas from each and every teacher I interact with. You see, in my heart, I don’t see peer visits (aka learning walks) as something bad.  It’s not taboo.  Unfortunately, in the minds of some, there has been a stigma placed on these learning opportunities.  Why?  I have no idea, because I view peer visits in a completely different light.  I believe that great teachers become even greater by having opportunities to participate in peer visits that allow a chance to collaborate with other teachers.  I believe that every opportunity is one that provides new insights and helps a teacher grow to become better by observing new strategies and techniques to use in their own classrooms.  I believe that by borrowing ideas from fellow colleagues, then adding one’s own twist on things, helps to tap into their own creativity and knowledge.
Peer visits are powerful!
I am not an expert in everything or anything, because in my mind to be an expert is to know it ALL – and I have not yet figured out how to be that incredible.  However, what I do know is how opportunities for peer visits to hundreds of classrooms have impacted my own inspiration, knowledge and opportunities for true collaboration to take place.
Yes, peer visits are powerful and valuable!  Don’t you agree?
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