Being a Noticer | Hooray For Monday

June 3, 2024

By Jenna Fournel, Director of Teaching and Learning

Listen to this week’s Hooray For Monday podcast to hear Jenna’s conversation with Vicki Bullock, a longtime Inspired Teacher and 23-24 Teaching with Improvisation Fellow. They discussed Vicki’s new role as math coach and the power of observing and recording what we notice in our classrooms. 

I first met Vicki Bullock when she took the Inspired Teaching Summer Institute with us 2013. I remember being struck by how she was a noticer. She was not the first to speak in a discussion, but when she spoke it was clear she had taken in what everyone had said. Ten years later, she became a Teaching with Improvisation Fellow and it was a delight to have this noticer back in our learning community.

Mrs. Bullock (center) at the Teaching with Improvisation summer Institute in June 2023.

Being a noticer is a teaching superpower. It’s also a relationship superpower beyond the classroom. And, in my conversation with Mrs. Bullock for this week’s podcast, I was struck by how she’s channeled that superpower into her new role as the K-5 math coach at John Burroughs Elementary School here in Washington, DC.

After 36 years in the classroom, this is her first year as a coach. However, she still spends much of her time learning alongside students. “This year I found joy in working with different ages of children because I’ve never had that experience; to see things from K to 5 and then see how math concepts across the grade levels fit together.”

Mrs. Bullock channels these observations into her support for teachers — helping them to see the connections that had once been invisible to her. She also helps them notice what she’s noticing in the progress their students make over the course of the year.

“Looking at children from September to October, they look totally different and then they also look different from the start of October to the middle of October.” And she’s working on strategies to help them notice these changes too, like taking observational notes throughout the day.

The Teaching with Improvisation Fellowship is a wonderful opportunity to make connections with like-minded educators in DC!

She models observation strategies when she visits classrooms and spends time with students. “Saying less is what I call it, and listening to kids more.”

Creating the quiet space for students to show you where they are struggling, or to puzzle through and find their own solutions requires noticing. And when Mrs. Bullock notices teachers fostering that growth, she points it out. “I’m here to really celebrate people’s success and just tell them every single day: My goodness. I’m so glad you’re here. Look at these children. Look at the work that you have done which you didn’t think was going to come together and yet it’s coming together beautifully.”

Listen to this week’s podcast at the button below to hear more examples of how Mrs. Bullock is creating a culture of noticing in her school including in the unlikely space of the bulletin board outside her office. And if you want to meet more fabulous teachers like Vicki Bullock, apply to become a Teaching with Improvisation Fellow!

What will you notice this week?

For additional insights, resources, and information on Inspired Teaching teacher and youth programming, subscribe to the Hooray For Monday newsletter!

Hooray For Monday is an award-winning weekly publication by Center for Inspired Teaching, an independent nonprofit organization that invests in and supports teachers. Inspired Teaching provides transformative, improvisation-based professional learning for teachers that is 100% engaging – intellectually, emotionally, and physically. Our mission is to create radical change in the school experience – away from compliance and toward authentic engagement.

Listen to This Week’s Episode of Hooray For Monday


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