Mark Ray, Sun Prairie, WI firstname.lastname@example.org
In February, I was asked to arrange a school visit to Indian Mound Middle School in McFarland, WI for a few teachers from a neighboring middle school. The teachers I arranged this visit for were looking to gain new perspectives for teaching CPM in their own classrooms. In particular, they were interested in seeing how other teachers plan and pace their lessons, how they question their students, and what intentional teacher moves they make to keep students engaged. Since this was such a positive visit, I wanted to share three of the greatest takeaways for the CPM community to consider.
First and foremost, the teachers, students, staff, and administration at Indian Mound Middle School exemplified what it means to be a host. Prior to the visit, my correspondence with the Principal, Aaron Tarnutzer, was detailed and expeditious. His genuine interest in our goals allowed us to gain the greatest potential from the visit. Upon arrival, we were kindly greeted by the front office staff and handed a personalized schedule with a detailed map to follow. We visited each teacher prior to the start of school and were graciously welcomed by each. At one point in the day, we stopped in the hallway to check our map, and a concerned student offered to help us find our next room. It was clear that everyone we encountered took pride in themselves and their school. It was the little things that everyone did to collectively make our experience great.
Second, teaching is such a complex profession. It is the type of profession that is usually more work when you are gone. However, stepping away from your classroom and visiting another teacher may make the work you do easier. When you remove yourself from the teacher role, and assume the role of an observer, you are able to focus your perspective. This affords you the opportunity to reflect and make adjustments to your own teaching without the complexities of running your own classroom. To make the most of an opportunity like this, be sure to only focus on one, or possibly two things. For instance, in the case of the teachers I was working with, they primarily wanted to learn how other teachers questioned students, and how they engaged all of their students.
The last takeaway is the power in networking with other teachers. There is tremendous potential to improve the teaching and learning in your own classroom by making connections with neighboring schools. What are your CPM neighbors doing that is working, or potentially not working? What can be learned from their experiences? What resources, assessments, or practices can be shared to help your students? How can connecting with other teachers invigorate you when you need support, or give you satisfaction when you support another teacher? It is worth the time and effort to make these connections. So, I ask, who are your CPM neighbors? Reach out to them. You might just make your CPM neighbors into a CPM neighborhood.