Jennifer Conley, instructional coach in Indiana, encourages the use of "pineapple charts" to help teachers show hospitality in their classrooms and inspire a school-wide culture of collaborative professional development. 🍍
eflecting on the PD I participated in as a classroom teacher, I realize that—more often than not—it was uninspiring, abstract, and not applicable to me and my role. I suspect many of the educators reading this can relate.
As an instructional coach, I work with my administrators to create truly meaningful, engaging, and effective PD opportunities for my teachers. The pineapple chart is one way I've achieved that. Read on to discover one of the easiest and most informal ways to empower and inspire your teachers—and enable them to inspire you in turn!
Getting started with pineapple charts
In some traditions, the pineapple has come to symbolize hospitality, which is what inspired the pineapplechart—a way for teachers to show hospitality in their classrooms.
The pineapple chart itself is really simple. It's just a calendar, made of a dry-erase board or something similar, located in a high-traffic area, like the staff room. Of course, pineapple decorations on this calendar make eye-catching additions that will draw the attention of your teachers!
You could also create a chart for specific content areas.
First, teachers who are willing to open their rooms to guests write down their names and something they will be showcasing in their classroom on the chart. For example, I might write down "J. Conley: Guided Reading" for the time I teach guided reading, or I could write down "J. Conley: Makerspace" when I check out the makerspace cart. Teachers can write down anything they are doing in their rooms; it doesn't have to be fancy!
Then, other teachers can look at the open invitations on the chart and decide what they would like to see—it's super informal. Visiting teachers can bring their lunch or papers to grade while they sit and watch an entire lesson, or they can just pop in for a few minutes.
Bonus: Check out a short video my administrator created to help introduce the pineapple chart to our staff.
Tips for building buy-in
For the chart to gain traction, it needs to be hyped up. The coach needs to become its biggest user and promoter. Here are a few suggestions:
Encourage staff to get involved. As you work with teachers and visit classrooms, suggest that teachers showcase their excellent practices on the pineapple chart. Even better, ask if you can jot their names down on the chart.
Lead by example. I challenge you to put your name on the chart. Invite others to visit at times that you are co-teaching or demonstrating in classrooms.
Know the chart inside and out. Always be aware of who and what is on the pineapple chart. If you know that a particular teacher is showcasing her math stations, then you can offer a great opportunity to see math stations in action when co-planning math with another teacher.
Lend a helping hand. As an IC, be willing to cover for a teacher by offering to do a read-aloud or other short activity in their class, so that they can visit the classroom of their choice.
Advertise the chart. Put a picture of the chart in your newsletter, blog post, or whatever you use to communicate with teachers. Share a quick story about a teacher who visited another classroom during her lunch or prep and how inspiring it was!
Teachers often feel isolated. Though we collaborate with colleagues and share ideas, we are on our own little island once we close our classroom doors.
Pineapple charts are an open invitation to share and be inspired by the amazing work in all our classrooms. I encourage you to try this method to build community and spread inspiration in the coming school year!
About our Guest Blogger
Jen Conley is an instructional coach at Cherry Tree Elementary in Carmel, IN. She has been in the field of education for thirteen years and feels blessed to be in a profession that she truly loves. As an instructional coach Jen gets to work alongside teachers to analyze student data, implement and refine instructional practices, and revel in the joys of teaching children.
Jen has presented at both local and national conferences on high ability education and technology integration. She worked alongside experts in the field of high ability education to write curriculum for the educators in the state of Indiana. Jen's true love, though, is teaching students how to read, especially those who struggle. She enjoys sharing this passion with teachers through her coaching interactions.
You can check out her musings on classroom instruction and instructional coaching on her blog.