Rockford Public Schools are in the fourth year of the Quality Peer Review (QPR), in which a team of teachers and building leaders visit another school for two days of intensive review and reflection. Three teachers from Riverdahl Elementary School were part of a QPR at Conklin Elementary School in September. Here's what they said about the experience and its value.
What did you like about the process of the Quality Peer Review? Jessica Gunderson, special education: It's very positive. It wasn't negative at all. We weren't evaluating people. We were looking at where is this school at and what things they can improve on. Desiree (Desi) Wrightsel, kindergarten: I really liked the collaborative nature of it. It was a common thread throughout the experience to be positive and uplifting of each other. I thought it was wonderful how welcoming Conklin was. It was one of those, 'We are all in this together' kind of experiences.
What did you learn from the experience?Jayme Erdmann, second grade: There are so many things you have to address within the day, within the week, or within the unit. You can see that everyone is in the same boat. It's like you are doing a self check or even a team check. Desi: I love to talk with educators and see their ideas and say, "Oh man, I never looked at it that way before. That's pretty cool." I had multiple lists: a list for leadership to talk about, a list for my team to talk about, a list for the QPR itself. I didn't know at all what to expect out of the QPR, and I admit I was very intimidated by the idea of going through one ourselves in February. Not only is it not intimidating now, but I'm looking forward to it. I truly see it as a useful experience, not something that is being imposed on us.
Did you take any new ideas back to your school?Jessica: I did observe the special education teacher (at Conklin), and she had her students working on the computers. Google Classroom! Hello! They can sign in and submit to me and their teacher, so it's just not me looking at their work, but the other teacher as well.Desi: It was interesting to hear the students' and the parents' perspective of the word 'goal.' Because we have so many different categories of goals, and we don't always recognize that. I came away thinking: This is something we really need to make sure we are communicating to our parents. Sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees. Jayme: If you don't discuss it with them, they are not going to know. On the other side, they need to open up that backpack too.
What would you like to change about the QPR process?Desi: I think everyone should go through and visit and be on a QPR team before their school goes through it. Jayme: When you go through the QPR, you see more of what the goal is. It takes that nervousness out. I won't say "all" (nervousness). It's inherent you want to do well. You want to do things right and correctly. Desi: There's that growth mindset. It's about the process, not the final product.
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