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Steve Haberlin's picture
Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. He holds a Ph.D. with a specialization in elementary education from the University of South Florida. His...
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Get Out!

As a teacher, do you want to have tunnel vision? Do you want to be locked into one way of doing things? Do you want to stop growing and building upon your prior experience?

Ok, then I have some advice for you:

Stay in your classroom. Thats right. Dont venture out into the world of education, where you can pick up techniques, lessons and philosophies that can greatly enhance your instruction. Stay cooped up in your room and just keep chugging along, without knowing that the next great insight could be just around the corner.

Now that I got your attention and have used up all my sarcasm, let me get to the point of this blog.

YOU HAVE TO GET OUT OF YOUR CLASSROOM. It is so important to watch and learn from other professionals. The experience will open your eyes to new ways of teaching, connecting with students, staying organized, or using technology. I will never forget when I visited the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta a few years ago and watched Mr. Clark teach math class. The experience changed my whole perspective on what could be accomplished.

In my new position as a gifted resource teacher, I now have the opportunity to watch a handful of teachers, in a handful of different grades, teach each day. But if youre like most teachers, you must remain in one classroom, and with your present workload, it is very difficult to get out of your room and watch your peers. So Id like to dedicate the rest of this blog to brainstorming creative ways to get out of your room and into the classrooms of others.

PLANNING BREAKS/LUNCH

I know it doesnt sound appealing, but you can use planning periods and break times to stop into classrooms at your school. Perhaps once a week, you can make it a habit of getting out of your room and popping your head into other classrooms.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

You might try convincing your principal to send you to another school as part of your professional development. Depending on the budget for substitute teachers, you might be able to get someone to cover your classroom, even for a half-day, to visit another classroom or school. If you have a good relationship with a teacher on your academic team, you could farm out your students to them for a short time while you observe another teacher.

VIDEO

If you cant watch someone in person, the next best thing is to watch a video of that person in action. Some celebrity teachers have had documentaries filmed in their classroom, which allow you to watch them teach and learn about their projects. You can go on YouTube and find all kinds of teaching videos-some of effective teachers, some of not so effective teachersand learn from what you see. Books like Teach Like a Champion provide DVDs with their products that allow you to watch teachers model the techniques.

SKYPE

If you have the technology, you could even Skype into other classrooms. If you are not familiar with the program, SKYPE allows you to communicate in real-life time using a video feed. It just takes signing up for the free program and having the small camera to attach to your computer.

To sum it up, I suggest getting into classrooms and personally watching good teachers is the best situation. However, if that is not possible, use video and technology to make it happen! Please join me at the innovative teaching grouphttp://community.educationworld.comcontent/get-out?gid=NTEyMQ==and share your ideas on how to get out of your room.