Pleasant Avenue Critical Friends Group

Teacher Development Grant

 2018-2019 Project Summary

Lynn Makrin

Pleasant Avenue School, Greater Johnstown School District • Niskayuna, NY

Currently in the development phase, this professional development program has the potential of expanding from one school to the entire school district. Through a strict set of carefully developed protocols, teachers visit each other’s classrooms to watch their peers teach. After each visit, a second set of protocols leads the discussion and reflection for all who participated in the classroom visit. The benefits of peer driven professional development like the Critical Friends Group are as numerous and varied as the students they teach.

Research has shown that collaboration is one of the most effective tools for teacher growth. As teachers experience each other’s work, the culture of the school and respect for excellent teaching across the disciplines deepens. This leads to a second powerful benefit of the CFG. Teachers look at self-selected increments of their work and invite their peers into their classrooms. This provides the teacher with the control of what the visitors are to focus upon and therefore helps him/her to reflect upon certain aspects of their craft. Likewise, when invited into another’s classroom, the visiting teacher can experience the processes of learning, and can potentially see their students in a new light under the direction of another teacher. All of this builds rapport and provides all involved with a leadership network for support and continued reflection.

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