Leadership · Curriculum · Lifelong Learning

I’ve been thinking on this for about a decade.

Educators need professional learning opportunities to become better. We need to learn from each other. Together, we’re striving to make teaching and learning better for all.

Well into 2019, I’m still fascinated by a few things that haven’t happened in education.


This one gets me the most.

There are educators teaching and learning the exact same standards in the same state, county, or district, and they’ve never collaborated. Like EVER. Is this okay?

There are kids all across the land learning the exact same things in learning spaces with educators who have never connected, communicated, or collaborated on how to do teaching better. Doesn’t that strike you as really odd?

I predict that some time in the next decade, we’ll look back and wonder why public education wasn’t trying harder to work more efficiently, and why we weren’t trying things like Trade Days to do everything we possibly could to improve teaching and learning.

I see other professions, organizations, and businesses with offices [and cyberspaces] all over operating efficiently, nearly lockstep to be the best–and to become better–in every possible opportunity. And I keep wondering about education…

Right now, we have the connecting power and the management options to make this happen. But it’s not happening, possibly because no one has envisioned it yet or maybe because we wouldn’t want to share too much with others, fearful of giving our difference-making ideas to fellow educators competing for the same performance-based bonuses in some grades and subjects, for example.

We can create platforms like this one or that one, and invite teachers to share and collaborate in very specific, standards-based manners. Yet, while it’s nice to get a glimpse into each other’s learning spaces through video, nothing beats the real thing.

The Trade Days Vision

Educators in similar positions at two different schools guest-teach for each other. While educators are absent from their own learning space, they’ll substitute-teach in a space of an educator in the same niche.

The Trade Days Logistics

Phase I: Educators meet to exchange specific information about their school, spaces, students, and learning objectives for one day. This is like meeting with the substitute teacher before the absence occurs.

Phase II: Educators from two different schools teach a day in each other’s spaces.

Phase III: Educators meet to reflect on their experience in each other’s spaces.

Phase IV: Educators record and share their Trade Days reflections.

Trouble-Shooting Trade Days

  • Unlike requesting a substitute teacher at large for any kind of absence, Trade Days require little paperwork.
  • This will be piloted by a few schools before going district-wide.
  • A small group of administrators may need to assign appropriate Trade Days partners. The goal is personal and professional improvement–not crossing another initiative off the checklist. The goal is to want to do this–not have to do this. [For now], Trade Days is a completely voluntary process.
  • Begin by repeating each semester (twice/year) before doing Trade Days quarterly (four times per year).

Oh, The Places We Will Go!

If educators invested time in each other’s learning spaces, how might that help us…

  • Network, learn, and grow with specifically relevant professionals?
  • Exchange ideas to make our teaching and learning better?
  • See opportunities for integration and efficiency?
  • Become aware of other communities of learners?
  • Develop perspective?
  • See how our individual piece fits into the larger whole?
  • Begin conversations to address inequities?
  • Grow through reflection on experience?
  • Enhance lifelong learning skills?
  • Grow personally, as well as professionally?

I’m super passionate about Trade Days. It’s not the answer to solve all the world’s problems, let alone most of the concerns we have in education, but it’s an opportunity to connect, learn, and grow together, to become better for kids, and to make teaching and learning better for all. It’s a start…

What are your thoughts?

One Reply to “Trade Days”

  • Kyle, I can’t believe that I missed this post when you originally published it. I love the idea. By changing our venue, we change our point of view. Best of all, it seems feasible because it doesn’t cost anything.

    Maybe there is a way to combine this with the idea of visiting classrooms? Maybe one of the early steps is to see your “partner” in action before subbing for them?

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