How to watch & learn from your peer teachers this week

image by: remixed by  Darren Kuropatwa . Original image via  WayneKLin . From TEDxNYED 2010, which I helped cofound.

image by: remixed by Darren Kuropatwa. Original image via WayneKLin. From TEDxNYED 2010, which I helped cofound.

I visit many classrooms at my school and other schools. I visit for formal observations, other times for drop-ins, or sometimes just as a guest. Each time, I leave with an idea for my own classroom. I expect that of myself.

To me, teaching is both an art and science. Methods and skills mixed with creative madness. When I am in someone else's classroom, I focus deeply on the science side - the methods they use to engage their class.

Some of the things I look out for:

  • how did they structure the lesson?
  • what are students doing?
  • how much is the teacher talking?
  • how to students demonstrate their understanding?
  • what pieces engage the students most?
  • what students are left out/seem not to understand?
  • what materials are the students using?

When I look out for these, I want to find the most powerful teaching moments and share them back with the teacher, so they can make sure to keep doing them and make more of them. 

Equally importantly, I also learn strategies for my own classes. I cannot tell you how much better a teacher my peers have made me by their example. 

If you want to be a great teacher, you need role models. Practice what they do. Make it your own, certainly, but great teachers are great for very, very good reasons. Do not overvalue the art in teaching. Know that it also requires very practical methods - methods that great teacher employ.

Your challenge: set up a visit to another teacher's class. Pick someone that you know is a strong teacher.

I will make it easy for you. Send them this e-mail:

subject: can I visit your class this week?

Dear [insert their name here],

I would love to come visit your class this (insert a few specific options of days/times here). 

I am trying to improve my classroom practice and feel like I could learn a lot about how you work with [insert grade number] graders by visiting you. 

I will stop by and see you later in case scheduling is just easier in person.

Thanks, in advance,
[insert your name]

Leave a comment if you are up for the challenge. I can't wait to hear from you.


arvind s. grover

I am a progressive educator, a podcaster (, a blogger, and dean of faculty of JK-11 school (building a high school) in New York City.