Unlock the Wisdom of Colleagues

"None of us is as smart as all of us." - Ken Blanchard


"3 Ways to Unlock the Wisdom of Colleagues" (web page) outlines "three thoughtful practices to find—and share—inspiration from your peers."

  • "Sometimes the best things going on are happening in your own building, and you might miss them because you’re doing your own thing."
  • Though aimed at a lower level of education, the specific community-of-practice activities outlined have value at the post-secondary level as well.

1. "Learning Walks"

  • "During the walks—which proceed at a brisk pace—[instructors] sit in on five to [ten] classes for five minutes each, making note of particularly effective teaching practices as they go and then debriefing as a group."
  • "[A] facilitator tracks time and keeps things moving along during the reflection."
  • "On future walks, ... [an instructor] who was previously a visitor may now host an inquisitive group—ensuring that feedback loops are continuous and that all classrooms benefit from the wisdom of the whole community."

2. "Protocols for Examining Student Work"

  • "Using a structured protocol, [instructors] pore over student work samples from a colleague’s specific lesson."
  • "[Instructors] are first asked to consider how they would respond to the task if they were the learner."
  • "They then analyze student work to look for specific, concrete evidence of what students understand, and brainstorm actionable feedback about how to improve their colleague’s instruction."
  • "The [instructor] on the receiving end typically comes away with new ideas to improve the rest of the unit—along with encouragement to keep doing what’s already working well."

3. "Teacher Labs"

  • "Each three-hour teacher lab focuses on a specific instructional topic that [instructors] choose to explore together, such as student engagement strategies."
  • "Participants from different content areas convene and brainstorm best practices related to the topic before observing a lesson in a classroom, facilitated by a[n] [instructor] who has volunteered to be the host."
  • "During the debrief that follow[s] the lesson, they shar[e] positive observations with the host [instructor] ... so that 'everyone walks away with some new knowledge, some new gained perspective.'"
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