Monday, June 30, 2014

Guerrilla Teaching

I regularly participate in #iaedchat (Iowa education chat) on Sunday evenings (8 p.m. Central Time.) We discuss a wide range of topics, and it isn't just Iowa educators in the chat. If you teach and are on Twitter, I highly recommend it.

In our last Twitterchat we were discussing the value of peer visits to your classroom. We discussed the differences between administrator visits and peer visits, the nature of the feedback teachers can get from peers, and how to translate this feedback into action. The ideas were flying fast--lots of interesting approaches and great techniques!

I suddenly had the image of "guerrilla teaching"--instead of a structured visit, bursting in on a colleague's class (invited, of course) and joining in the teaching under way. I shared this idea to some enthusiastic response.

No, not this kind of guerrilla teaching! [Image from quimbob]

Here's what I'm thinking:
  • Interested teachers could indicate their willingness and interest in having colleagues join in by inviting them ahead of time.
  • The guerrilla teachers would walk in during class and get a feel for the room, where the lesson is headed, etc.
  • The guerrilla teachers then join in the lesson, adding their benefits and expertise.
  • After a few minutes, the guerrilla teacher would leave again, but that wouldn't be the end of the guerrilla teaching: both the host teacher and the guerrilla teachers should get their heads together later to talk about it--what went well, what they learned from watching a colleague teach, wondering together about what else they could have done, etc.
I'm excited about the professional development possibilities from this kind of co-teaching, and I think that the twist of not knowing just what will happen would be very engaging! (But maybe that's just my weird personality coming out?) The key, I think, is not just seeing a colleague teaching, but the conversation about the teaching that would result. Reflection helps us get better!

After the chat, I googled "guerrilla teaching" to see if this was a novel idea...and it isn't! Check out this article which describes something very similar to what I had dreamed up!

What do you think? Would you welcome a colleague into your classroom as a "guerrilla teacher?" Would you crash in on a colleague's class?


  1. I would welcome this without hesitation. I think it creates an environment where teachers are talking and sharing more with each other. I believe from the top down there must be a growth mindset in place before any of this can happen. It takes a lot of confidence (some would argue craziness!) to allow your peers to observe you. I do feel, however, that you could get some excellent feedback.
    The best part about this idea is it is centered around conversations. As educators, we need to break down the literal and figurative walls that are in our schools. "No one of us is as smart as all of us."
    Great post, Dave.

    1. Thanks for your feedback, my friend! I can absolutely see you doing this, Jim. :-)

      I agree with your point about breaking down the walls. Another idea I gleaned from the chat was to "teach with your doors wide open." I love that phrase, for both it's figurative and literal meanings.