Writing my way through the school year!

Posts tagged ‘supervision’


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.


Are You Scared Yet? (My First Day Back)

Faculty meetings the first day back are usually pretty easygoing. You go back, see your colleagues you haven’t seen or spoken to all summer, introductions are made, and the principal pretty much thanks you for a job well done the previous year. Well, I should have known something was up when I walked in, and saw the little gift bags on the table for EACH teacher. They were filled with chocolate, a plant, a mouse pad, and more chocolate! My ecstasy over the contents of the bag were short-lived once we got down to business. My school is under academic review!!!!! That means, according to one test score and the data gathered from it, we suck! We suck, and “they” get to come in and tell us what to do to fix it, or come in, spend 15 minutes in our rooms, sit my principal down, and tell him everything we are doing wrong. The consequences? If you don’t do better next year, you are in bigger trouble, they will send more people. Another year? They will get rid of the staff, whoever they deem unworthy AND send the parents a letter saying the school sucks(not in those words), and here are schools more worthy of your children. WOW! This is scary, overwhelming, frustrating, did I say scary? At the end of the day, my principal asked the team leaders how we felt about the staff meeting, we concurred, scary, but necessary. Unfortunately, we can whine all we want about the test scores being used to judge us, but it’s not going to change. I’m not mad at my principal, he did what he had to do to motivate us. Happy First Day!

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