What are the most important elements of Teachers with Open Doors?
Teachers with Open Doors is based on a spirit of openness and sharing, of professional support and interest. Teachers open their doors and invite their colleagues to be a part of their classroom worlds. Teaching is inherently isolating; each classroom is a unit unto itself and teachers rarely glimpse the individual worlds created by other teachers, even those next door or down the hall. By opening their doors, teachers create opportunities to share their own practices and knowledge with their colleagues, creating connections with other educators that enrich their own teaching.
Open Doors is an idea, a way of thinking and acting. Open Doors, at its simplest level, is understanding that a school is not a series of teachers in individual classrooms, but rather, a network of professionals working as a community supporting one another. Open Doors is the idea that teachers are at their best when they work together to serve their professional needs, and the educational needs of their students.
How do you think Open Doors compares to other professional development in today’s landscape of K-12 professional development?
The power of Open Doors is that it is teachers teaching teachers. There are no outside influences from administrators, district officials, or corporate forces trying to sell you the latest silver bullet solution. Instead, teachers turn to each other to explore and discover new and exciting methods of instruction that are adapted to the specific needs of their individual students.
Teachers choose to participate in Open Doors by opening their doors when they choose to do so and by visiting other teachers’ classrooms when those doors are open, which shifts the focus of professional learning from external mandates to individual purposes. Because it is teacher-driven professional development, Open Doors provides similar benefits as student-driven instruction: teachers focus on the instructional ideas and strategies that are most relevant to their students’ needs.
What is the best way to implement Teachers with Open Doors?
The most important factor in its success is a community of educators who want to work with, learn from, and support each other with the shared goal of becoming better teachers both individually and together. In the same way, moving toward a more evaluative and structured approach can diminish the grass-roots spirit of Open Doors.
For Open Doors to work, there needs to be a core of teachers at any given site who are willing to talk to one another. Too often, teachers are locked into their own classrooms for any number of reasons; fear of administrative consequences, fear of inadequacy or inexperience, apprehension about seeming inadequate or unprofessional. Teachers should strive to serve one another as supportive agents, pooling experience and resources, and combining constructive energies so that the school becomes a support network.