, not the delicious fruit that makes the inside of your mouth hurt (no, just me?) or the weird Emoji you use on SnapChat to tell everyone your relationship is "complicated." Pineapple also has a meaning in education when it comes to teacher observations. Have you ever heard of a Pineapple Chart? Two years ago, I came across the Pineapple Chart while browsing for educational pins on Pinterest. After doing further research, I found this amazing post from Cult of Pedagogy on these types of charts (click here). 

First let me explain what it is. A pineapple chart is actually a calendar where teachers go to sign up to have other teachers observe their lessons and instructional expertise. Teachers can visit the chart and decide who they would like to observe when, based upon the area of focus, lesson, and/or instructional strategy. This is a different way of doing traditional instructional rounds where teachers are subbed out for half a day so the principal can guide them through random classrooms during random times hoping to catch something that is inspirational or innovative. Although there are times when this type of instructional round can be effective, most times you don't get what you want out of this system. In fact, in my experience, the only thing I got out of this system was the fact that students sit a lot. With the Pineapple Chart, teachers can observe other teachers on their prep and choose specifically what they want to see from whom. For example, if I know that today during my prep Mr. OutDoUsAll is teaching a lesson on figurative language with a special emphasis on engagement and movement, then I would go observe his lesson for 10-20 minutes during that time. I would get more out of that 10-20 minutes than a half day of random walk-throughs. I understand that some teachers don't want to observe on their prep, but I much rather observe on my prep when I see fit than have to take a half day for a sub to watch my class, or to blindly walk through rooms hoping I'm going to get something out of an observation. Teachers are in full control concerning when they want to observe and why which makes it much more meaningful and effective.

"Wait, why is it called a Pineapple Chart?" you ask. Because "The pineapple has long been a symbol of hospitality; it's used in the chart in the spirit of welcoming one another into our homes [classrooms]" (Cult of Pedagogy).  Why are you getting so caught up in the name? Focus people focus! Here is a sample Pineapple Chart taken from Cult of Pedagogy:
Now this wasn't just something I read in a blog and thought 'That's a great idea, moving along.' When my principal, at the time, asked all the department leaders at our school about instructional rounds for first semester, you could hear the collective groan echoing in the conference room. We groaned not because we didn't value observing other teachers, but because it meant a half-day away from the classroom hoping to observe something fabulous but no guarantees. This is when I suggested using the Pineapple Chart. Yeah, go ahead and throw those words out there in a meeting so you can get some real weird looks. The principal told me that he'd like to hear more about it. Throughout multiple meetings, the principal and I set up an idea concerning what this would look like at our school and presented the idea to the other department leaders. We all agreed we should give it a try. The principal sent out an email we created that explained the process and how everything worked. Teachers were required to do a total of 60 minutes of observing, but those 60 minutes could be broken up into different observational times.We posted calendars for September-December outside of the main conference room in the office. Teachers signed up to BE observed on the calendar including important information such as name, block, area of focus, room #, and time. This is where other teachers would go to see who they wanted to observe when during their prep time.

I sent an email each week with who signed up to be observed, so that even teachers who said they didn't have time to go down to the main office to look at the chart (calendar), didn't have an excuse.

Also, instead of having everyone observe at one time, we gave each department a certain amount of time to go and observe. For example, the first departments to observe were English and world languages, then it was PE/ROTC/FA/CTE, etc. As teachers observed, they had to fill out an observation form created by the principal. This helped to guide us through our reflection activity during PLC time.
Once each department observed over its certain allotment of time, the principal met with the teachers during PLC time to do a wrap-up activity to see what they learned from their experience.  We used a gallery walk with our areas of focus posted on poster-size sticky notes, so teachers could write down what they observed under that area of focus. Then a discussion occurred about what take-aways we had while observing. Many teachers found something they would like to try in their classroom, or they found that they could be doing things differently to make their lives easier!
                                                                             Pictured Above: Our Areas of Focus Set by Principal

Now, did everything go perfectly? No! It never does, but most of us agreed that this was much more beneficial than how we previously did instructional rounds and/or observations. The benefits far exceeded the negative aspects, and the best part was that it gave teachers so much freedom to see who and what they wanted to see when they wanted to see it. Who is ready to try out the pineapple chart? The article from Cult of Pedagogy is a great way to get more information; it includes how it would work at the elementary level too. Too soon, okay, okay, sorry!

Keep on stressin' on,
Michon Otuafi

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