Great example of 2 high school teachers collaborating closely using video observations to help each other improve as teachers and help their students achieve better learning in math...

Notes from meeting on Classroom Exchanges: Rethinking Pre-College Math Summer Institute 2010

CLASSROOM EXCHANGE LEADS (links under college names are to college-specific subpages focused exclusively on campus work related to classroom exchange)
Northwest Indian College
John Frey
No Seattle CC
Barbara Goldner
Everett CC
Rachel Kingsley
Highline CC
Diana Lee
Clark College
Luanne Lundberg
Spokane Falls CC
Terry Souhrada
Lower Columbia College
Brad Benjamin

Classroom exchanges are a core practice of the RPM project. Our intent is for math departments to eventually adopt and adapt this practice as an ongoing means to develop teaching expertise in relation to student learning.

To be clear: we do NOT have in mind the kind of classroom observation where someone visits a class with the intent of passing judgment on a teacher’s practice. As colleagues noted, the experience must be safe, especially for faculty who do not have secure employment.

Our conversation on classroom exchanges surfaced critical clarifications regarding the purpose of classroom exchanges in the context of the Rethinking Pre-College Math project. In brief, our aim is to improve student learning through the collective examination of what we do as faculty in classrooms to help students learn.

Our Institute discussion centered on the distinctive features of classroom exchanges:

  • the focus is on teaching in relation to student learning (not “teaching” divorced from what students are doing and learning in the classroom). We need to be attentive to what faculty actually do to create conditions for students to become successful math learners.
  • the “results” of classroom exchanges--that is, the insights, issues, puzzles that emerge--are intended to spark further inquiry and fuel the work of faculty inquiry groups.
  • the faculty conversations prior to and after a classroom visit are an essential part of the process. A visitor needs to know what in particular a faculty member is working on with students –what each of us are trying to understand about our students’ learning, especially in relation to the “hard parts”. Post-visit conversations are also focused on substantive issues tied to math learning.
  • the visits are “exchanges”, that is, they are reciprocal. We recommend that the first visits are to classrooms taught by faculty who have more seniority and job security, and that this pattern is followed to distinguish classroom exchanges from classroom observation for evaluative purposes.
  • the touchstone for classroom exchanges is always the improvement of student learning. In this respect, classroom exchanges offer windows into the dynamic relationship between teaching and learning, similar to the use of CATs.

Here are two resources shared at the 2010 RPM Summer Institute:
This is an Engaging Students in Learning Observation Form adapted from California Standards for the Teaching Profession and New Haven Unified District Beginning Teacher Support Program.

This next document is a helpful 'Classroom Observations: Protocols and Practices' summary that draws from the book, Key Elements of Observing Practice.

Here are a few examples of protocols you could use/adapt in providing a structured framework for classroom exchanges and follow-up discussions about student learning and classroom practice. We'll set up an inquiry group and convene a web session for folks interested in helping us use these examples (and others folks may find and share) to develop one we can use across the project sites.

If you choose to use video or audio documentation processes as part of classroom exchanges/visits and need to use a student consent form as part of the study, here are a couple of examples that can be adapted to your local context and project:

And here the are consent forms that Mike Nevins from Everett adapted from Tom Drummond, who's been doing numerous video projects and using versions of these forms for a number of years at North Seattle: