Educators have shared techniques and stories for as long as education has existed. And they should! Why recreate the wheel when you can get easy informal professional development simply by talking to your friends and colleagues?
Some schools are starting to turn these interactions between educators into scheduled professional development, and are using pineapple charts to do so! Pineapple charts are simple charts that represent your school week, and are often hung up in shared areas like teachers’ lounges. On them, teachers can note what they’d like to showcase and when colleagues can stop by to observe them.
Pineapples have long been associated with warm and welcoming environments, but why is that? It started in 1493, during Christopher Columbus’ second voyage to the Americas. Columbus and his crew were the first Europeans to encounter the fruit, and brought some home with them. Because of the flavor and natural sweetness of the pineapple, and the lack of fresh fruit available to them, Europeans quickly became enamored with it. Much of the fruit did not survive the journey, though, so the pineapple was seen as rare and valuable.
As Europeans started settling in the Americas, hospitality became an important part of society, as did creative displays of food. And because pineapples were known to be rare, the presence of one in a food display implied that the hosts would spare no expense to satisfy and please their guests. Over time, the fruit began to symbolize a sense of welcoming, warmth, and hospitality, and pineapple imagery is still used today as a way to invite and welcome guests and friends.
Why Pineapple Charts for PD?
By using pineapple charts, teachers can learn different classroom management techniques, new and interesting ways to incorporate tech, and much more. And these observations are very informal—some last only a few minutes, and others don’t require the observer’s full attention; the aim is simply to encourage collaboration and learning among colleagues.
If your school isn’t already doing something like this, you can start the practice yourself. Simply print out an image of a pineapple (like this one), and when you’re doing something you think your colleagues might be interested in, hang that image outside your classroom. Make sure your fellow teachers know that it means they’re welcome in your classroom, and encourage others to do the same.
PD Beyond the Informal
Though having access to easy informal professional development is a great way to grow and innovate as educators, when it comes to integrating technology in the classroom, many teachers need more than what “pineappling” can offer. The best technology is of no use to someone who doesn’t know how to use it (or how to use it well), so it’s important for teachers to get the training, practice, and support they need to incorporate it into their classrooms.
This is where formal professional development comes into play. An issue many educators face when implementing technology into the classroom is getting comfortable with the programs and devices before using them with students, and professional development and training can help you do that! The best PD is ongoing throughout the year, and many training and development sessions have flexible delivery options, so PD can be scheduled based on your calendar and availability.
But incorporating tech into the classroom doesn’t have to end there. Get creative! Teachers have long been using technology in interesting ways, which is where pineappling on a larger scale can be helpful. Consider the pre-K teacher who uses a Roomba to teach his students about empathy and robotics, or the third-grade teacher who had her students practice their opinion writing by creating Yelp reviews for their favorite restaurants.
Creating a culture of success in schools requires a lot of planning, education, and ongoing support (and maybe even a pineapple or two). And establishing an easy informal professional development program better equips teachers to help their students learn and succeed. The more prepared, informed, and supported teachers are, the greater the likelihood of success for students, teachers, and schools!
Gonzalez, J. (2016, September 25). How pineapple charts revolutionize professional development. Cult of Pedagogy. Retrieved from https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/pineapple-charts/
Johnson, B. (2014, September 16). Why quality professional development for teachers matters. Edutopia. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/why-quality-professional-development-teachers-matters-ben-johnson
Levins, H. (n.d.). Social history of the pineapple: being the brief and colorful story of a truly American plant. Retrieved from http://levins.com/pineapple.html