Last week at lunch, I sat down with a few colleagues like I always do. One of the joys of working where I work is that you never know what kind of conversation you’re going to have at the lunch table. On this particular day, after quickly covering some of the day’s current events, the conversation shifted into brand new territory (for a lunch).
We had all recently administered student evaluations of our teaching, and we were heading into an in-service where we would be working in departments to debrief the key learnings from these surveys. But this particular group of people didn’t want to wait for in-service. We spontaneously started sharing our results. We started with the positives, but within five minutes, we were each sharing the “toughest thing we had learned” from our surveys.
- One teacher was told, in no uncertain terms, that she should consider fixing her Moodle page.
- Another teacher was told that several students feel “invisible” in his class.
- A third teacher was told that her tone was detracting from students’ enjoyment of the class.
- A fourth teacher said, “I’m not opening my surveys until I’m sitting down with ____. She helps me digest them.”
As we shared these results, we all ended up coaching each other, offering suggestions and strategies. It was very clear to me that each of these teachers is highly motivated to solve the particular problems that emerged from his/her surveys. When you hear this kind of information from students, you simply can’t ignore it.
Looking back on this experience, I’m still astonished by it. At what other workplace (or even school) would people spend their free time at lunch talking shop in such a personal way? In what other workplace (or even school) would people be willing to make themselves so vulnerable while slurping a bowl of soup with their colleagues? This is another clear indicator that Montclair Kimberley Academy is building a very special culture around teaching and learning. I’m proud to be a part of it.