A bout twenty years ago, when I was teaching in New York, I was observed by an “administrator.” I had about 4 years of teaching under my belt. I was asked how I think I had done, and I replied, “I think it went well.” He smirked, “Well, you must think very highly of yourself.” I won’t go into how I handled that situation, but no violence or profanity were involved. 🙂
Fast forward to 2011. You would think that after 26 years of teaching, observations would be easy. But no, I still get butterflies in my stomach. I still feel this need to “perform”. I still feel the need to warn my children to behave because “they” are being observed.(You know they know better) My observation went well, integrating technology wows them every time, but it still made me think.
How can someone possibly know what kind of teacher I am by observing me, once a year, for about an hour? Administrators have so much on their plate, it’s rare that they enter your classroom, unless you have problems. Many decisions about a teacher are based on these observations, and even if it’s twice a year, it’s still harsh. I realize that if a teacher is really horrible, there will be other indicators. On your observation day there are factors that affect your performance. You might have a “bad” class, or that day Sammy decided he was going to fight Jason, or the kids just didn’t get it, no matter what you tried. And we know, there are inept, incompetent, teachers who know how to put on the dog and pony show. I’ve known teachers who sit at their desk, all day, every day, but the day of their observation, watch out! I have been fortunate to have administrators who use observations for what they are, observations, a chance for compliments and constructive criticism. Unfortunately, many teachers are not that lucky. I’ve come a long way since that observation in New York, but I guess I still have a little of that young teacher who heard, “You must think very highly of yourself,” lurking inside.