Pineapple Charts & Open Doors

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We’ve just completed our first-ever round of a Pineapple Chart at École Marie-Anne-Gaboury and I’m so excited about the possibilities. So, what is a Pineapple Chart? If you haven’t read Jennifer Gonzalez’ blog, Cult of Pedagogy, I’d suggest that you do so. She gives a great overview of what this entails and how to go about setting it up.

So, why have we decided to try this out? We are working at personalizing our approaches to professional development, changing up the way that we offer opportunities to our staff to learn more about something that is of interest to them. One way to do this is to incorporate a Pineapple Chart system into our teaching practice. In our French Immersion school, we’ve named it Tableau d’ananas. This strategy allows teachers to invite one another into their classrooms for informal observation and learning.

As suggested, we set up our chart in a very visible area, choosing the staff room as the place to ‘unveil’ the idea. This area is frequented daily by staff, making it a perfect spot for them to see what their colleagues were offering. As we also wanted teachers to have some time to get used to the chart, we put it up a couple of weeks before implementing these observations. I’m not sure if this was a negative or a positive, but at least it gave them some time to wrap their heads around what was coming.

During two staff meetings, we looked at the concept of a Pineapple Chart, and went over what it would look like to the teachers, as both the people opening their classrooms and those doing the observing. To avoid the craziness of report cards and triad conferences, we chose to start using the chart between December 4th and 15th.

Teachers were then asked to “advertise” the interesting things they were doing in their classrooms that they thought others might want to observe. Examples of these activities included the different steps of the Optimal Learning Model, Adobe Spark Page, Notable Notions, using Spheros to learn about colours in one class and cardinal points in another, poetry stations, programming with Scratch, literacy and math groups, Recycled Robots with Spheros, using Bloxel to create a game about ecosystems, and creating Powtoon cartoons about photosynthesis.

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When a teacher saw something of interest on the chart, he or she went to that classroom at the designated time, sat down in an out-of-the-way spot, and observed what was going on. This was a very informal way to learn and led to follow-up conversations between the teachers.

What Worked and What Needs to be Tweaked

  1. Teacher Availability: Those who visited other classrooms did so during their prep time. As well, both administrators made themselves available to supervise classes so that teachers could free up their time. Although the intent was there, only two teachers took us up on the offer as they didn’t want to ‘impose’ or they were too busy. The next time around, we will reserve floating subs for one, if not two, days so that teachers can sign up for the sub to be able to participate if they wish.
  2. Teacher Sign-Up: Teachers were asked to advertise their lessons on our chart and then open their doors to their colleagues. For a first time, I was really pleased with the number of teachers who participated by posting a lesson. One suggestion was that staff let the teachers know if they were planning to drop by so that they could plan accordingly. Although the activity is supposed to be informal on a come-if-you-wish basis, I might add a box to the ‘advertising’ form so that teachers can indicate their intent to attend by adding their initials.
  3. Timing of the Chart Debut: We chose these first two weeks in December to avoid the craziness of report cards and Triad Conferences. However, try as we might, this was still very much a busy time of the year. Unfortunately, in our world, there is no perfect time to offer these opportunities, so it becomes very important that we find solutions to making them more accessible. Again, this would include administrative availability for supervision, hiring a floating substitute teacher for a few days, ensuring that teachers have common prep periods to be able to observe their colleagues and then collaborating with their peers to provide their own coverage on a rotating basis. (See Ms. Gonzalez’ blog!) The easier that we make it for them to be available for these learning experiences, the more participation we are likely to see.
  4. Teacher Take-Away: The teachers that participated really appreciated the opportunity to observe their colleagues in action, as they came away with strategies and ideas for their own classrooms. For our first time, there were 14 posts of teachers who were prepared to open their classroom to their colleagues, with 10 teachers observing them in action, which translates to at least 20 different learning opportunities. This is always going to be a win-win situation!

What I believe is that the more that the Pineapple Chart becomes a part of our learning, the more accustomed staff will be to opening their doors or dropping in to observe a lesson. This will take time and a concerted effort on our part to ensure that teachers have the time and space to make themselves available for these learning experiences. But for a first time, based on staff comments, I was really pleased with how it went and am looking forward to Round 2.

2 thoughts on “Pineapple Charts & Open Doors

  1. This is fantastic! I love the idea of setting a defined period for these observations and adding a space on the ads for teachers to “sign up” to visit. I also love how thoughtfully you are reflecting on the process, and all the great things your teachers are doing in their classrooms! If anyone from your school would be willing to come over to the original Pineapple Chart post and share a link back to this article so more teachers can learn from you, that would be wonderful.

    You are doing a great service to your teachers and students with this program. Keep it up!

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    1. Hi Jennifer. I’ve posted my blog on your original post…hopefully, it gives some perspective as to how this could work in other schools. For a first time, I think it went well, but there is still lots of room for improvement, as we want this to become a very natural part of our teaching practice. All that said, I love this idea and am really happy with our first round! Thanks for sharing such a great idea!

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