One of the latest trends in education is the “Pineapple Chart”.
Teachers are invited by other teachers into their classrooms for informal observations.
I love this idea!
But wait, what?
Teachers are encouraged to stay for only 5 minutes and during that time grade papers and check their email?
How can this be effective professional development?
Multi-tasking is a Myth
“You may think that trying to bite off two or more activities at a time makes you more productive, but many studies show that such efforts can be costly. Multitasking doesn’t just slow you down and increase the number of mistakes you make; it temporarily changes the way your brain works.”
Let's not model what research shows is ineffective. I would not want my students to be checking their email during class or working on assignments for other courses.
“And, while extensive practice can lead a task to become more natural, Koechlin says mastering a single activity to the point it becomes automatic is unlikely to make you better at multitasking in general. In fact, a study of university students found that those who report spending more hours concurrently consuming multiple forms of media (frequent media multitaskers) actually perform worse on tests that assess their ability to switch from one task to the next. Frequent media multitaskers also have a harder time ignoring external distractions. “
Informal 5-Minute Observations Inadequate
What is Missing?
If you came into my classroom for 5 minutes and sat down to grade papers or check your email, you would not see the depth and breadth of the lesson.
You would not hear the authentic collaboration as students evaluated each of the phases of Mitosis and discussed how to change the cell to transition from one phase to another.
You would not understand that this experience is a challenge for students transitioning from concrete to abstract thinking. Students must imagine what happens between phases. They must problem-solve and collaborate.
You would not know that we have worked hard all year to become critical friends and learn to collaborate on tasks.
You would not see, unless you asked, what I did to prepare my students for this challenging assignment. Earlier in the year, students created flipbooks of continental movement over time - Pangea. The flipbooks were used to create a short animation film showing Pangea continent movement. Small prior learning experiences helped prepare my students for this lesson. If I had not provided my students with prior learning experiences, they would not be showing you the success that you see in the classroom today.
You would not know that over time, I had shown students before and after pictures, asking them how the change might have occurred. We worked on habits of mind that students would need to successful complete their Claymation Mitosis videos.
Observations with Clear Purpose and Follow-up
What is “Pineapple” then? What can you realistically gain from a 5-minute observation when you are checking your email?
"Pineapple" can be a great tool but only if we add elements that make it a true professional development opportunity and not simply a drive-by observation.
I welcome anyone, anytime into my classroom. But please, ask me for a lesson plan or learner outcomes. Please ask me how I prepared my students to be successful in this lesson. Please, let's have a follow-up conference. I would love to have your feedback. My goal is to grow as a teacher. You can help me do that with a more robust "pineapple".