Open Classrooms Week was an idea brought to our school by @kerrypulleyn. We first tried it out in March and have since done it again in the last couple of weeks.
The idea behind Open Classrooms Week is simple. Staff are encouraged to visit one another’s lessons and to share ideas and good practice around teaching and learning. It is effective because it gets people talking about teaching and learning and celebrating the great work that goes on in each other’s classrooms. It helps create a bit more sunshine in the classroom.
I first blogged about Open Classrooms here back in March on my own blog. We had already held a couple of Teachmeets at school including one that took place on a training day. This had already helped us build up the collaborative culture necessary for Open Classrooms to work. It is also building naturally on our desire, as a school, to encourage more opportunities for staff to visit one another and see each other teach. I’ve blogged previously about how we hope to change lesson observations at our school here.
Open Classrooms week was first launched to the whole staff in briefing. This was important so that staff knew why it was happening. This was not a drop-in or a walk through and the activity held no risk for staff. Staff did not have to be involved either. It was entirely voluntary and staff could sign up on a sheet in the staff room if they felt they wanted to be involved. A week was set aside for staff to be involved and when staff had free lessons they could go and see somebody else teach. When staff had their door open, other staff were welcome to see what was going on. If staff felt it was not the right time for somebody to come in they could simply close their doors. Some staff even made reversible signs to indicate whether their doors were open or closed!
When staff had been to visit a lesson they were encouraged to write up a leaf for our Teaching and Learning tree in the staff room. Here, they had to write something positive or encouraging about what they had seen. This was great because it shone a light on the bright spots around teaching and learning and allowed staff to celebrate the great teaching and learning that was going on.
A week later, staff shared their experiences at Teaching and Learning briefing and a power point of photos taken during the week was shown with a background track. This was a great Teaching and Learning briefing allowing staff to really focus and reflect on the great practice going on in school. Taking the time out to reflect and celebrate our practice is hugely important and beneficial.
If you have not tried Open Classrooms in your school, I’d thoroughly recommend it. So cast open those doors and let’s learn from one another! Here’s to our next one in September.