Reporting from the Field: Classroom Visits in November
November 30, 2021
During the second and third weeks of November, I left my desk and jumped into classrooms. Ideally, a school leader’s time is balanced between tackling administrative tasks and experiencing the vital teaching and learning happening all around campus. It can be hard to maintain that balance sometimes, with the continuous pull of other responsibilities.
What a joy it was, therefore, to immerse myself in TA classes, sitting alongside middle school and high school students, watching as they engaged in a variety of challenging activities, practiced skills, and grappled with new material and concepts.
I was impressed with the technical vocabulary and tools students were using (and teachers were modeling) in the various fields of study – from drama, physics and geometry to instrumental music, creative writing and computer science. I was heartened by the positive rapport teachers had with their classes and the deep care and commitment they exhibited while teaching and guiding students. I was intrigued to observe a new level of technology innovation and integration, with new platforms and approaches adopted during covid woven into TA’s more traditional, pre-covid pedagogies.
I experienced students discussing literature as a class, peer editing one another’s writing, designing engineering projects in pairs, pursuing individual research projects, tackling problem sets in groups, prepping for a performance, creating logos, building structures in the forest, and so much more. As diverse as the classes, subjects, and grade levels are, an important common thread is the spirit of classes as learning communities, with shared routines, expectations, trust, and an appreciation for being together and learning collaboratively. My sense is that none of us will take the rewards of in-person teaching and learning for granted again.