Pineapples point to teacher collaborations at Peet

These last few weeks, the hallways of Peet Junior High have been a little bit brighter with signs of pineapples all around. Many students were confused at what these fruits were doing in the hallways or their schools, but the message is now becoming a little bit clearer.

“Pineapples are an international sign of welcome. It’s a symbol of ‘Come on in and see what we’re up to’ at Peet,” instructional coach Hilary Iehl said.

Iehl and her fellow instructional coach Linda Walther found out about the pineapples at the beginning of the year from Megann Tresemer, curriculum professional development leader, and later read about them in an education blog called “Cult of Pedagogy.”

“The big idea is that teachers are watching teachers,” Iehl said. “It’s some of the best professional development we can have. Learning from each other helps impact our own teaching by providing ideas for our own classrooms. Watching how students hold conversations in history or how a lab in science is conducted can prompt a math teacher to revamp and engage kids differently.”

Walther agreed that the objective is to get teachers learning from one another. “If there is a pineapple on a classroom door, that  means the teacher’s door is open and welcoming for anyone to come visit. When a teacher visits another room, they come in to observe and learn. They may be wanting to see the teaching strategy the teacher is using, presentations students are doing or even see how that teacher handles classroom management and much much more,” Walther said.

Not only do the pineapples affect the teachers at Peet, but they also help the students. “The pineapples impact teachers in that we become more collaborative and learn from each other. It benefits the students because their teachers are constantly learning to be more effective teachers for their students,” Walther said.

Both Iehl and Peet principal Bill Boevers agree that the pineapples will impact students learning, and they see the long term effects of it.

One problem is accountability. “We have the big pineapple on the media center window because we set a goal for the teachers to visit 50 classrooms by the end of the school year. Every time a teacher visits another classroom, their name goes on the pineapple,” Walther said. “We hope that our students hold us accountable for filling up our pineapple by continuously asking, ‘What’s up with the giant pineapple?’” Iehl said.

The overarching goal of the pineapples is to help improve the students learning and give teachers the opportunity to better their approach by learning from others. Iehl explains that she and Walther get to do that this year a lot more as instructional coaches. “That’s kinda what like our job is this year more. We get to go everywhere. We see a lot of benefit in seeing all these other people teaching and we see all these cool things going on that like other teachers need to have that same ability to go watch other people and learn from other people. Because we have a lot of good teachers here,” Iehl said. “I am grateful that we have teachers that are always looking for ways to improve, share and grow,” Boevers said.

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