Writing my way through the school year!

Posts tagged ‘teacher observations’

Foolproof Tips on Obtaining a GREAT Announced Teacher Observation!

I wasn’t “feeling” observations, and this post popped into my head.


Spoiler Alert: Don’t take me seriously!:)

1. Create a lesson you will never use again.
It’s showtime! Create the ultimate lesson. Spend hours and hours creating the perfect 45 minute lesson. Make sure you have included all the strategies that are being used in that moment. Do things you usually don’t in your classroom, like, when no one is watching.READ MORE …

Your Mission, If You Choose to Complete It…

The other day, I received an email.  These were the directions: Between now and Jan.24, every instructional staff person will visit a classroom for no longer than 10 minutes during PLC or planning time.  Bring a sheet of paper and something to write with to your classroom visit. Once you enter the classroom, select a location that does not interfere with the teacher’s instruction and copy down the first 5 questions you hear (word for word) the teacher direct to the class, small group, or individual student…Once you have your 5 questions, you may leave.

MY first question was, “What now?” Sometimes, I feel  like  a member of the Mission Impossible crew instead of a teacher.  Every week, I get another email with instructions on a new strategy I must implement in my classroom. Unlike the MI crew, I do not have a choice as to whether or not I choose to complete it.  Nor, does the message self-destruct because it shows up, again and again, every week, followed by my new mission of the week.

Not only do they show up repeatedly, but we receive emails with explicit directions. For example,  “I am looking for (the strategy of the week) when I come in your room.”  Or one minute, you’re helping a student at the computer, the other students are putting away the laptops to give to the teacher across the hall, others are lining  up to head to the computer lab,(somewhat chaotic), you look up, and the administrator and her coach are standing in your room.  She is scribbling ferociously on a pad, while her coach stands looking around, her nose scrunched as if she smells something bad.

Of course, at that moment, I am not using ANY of the suggested “mission”strategies, and I am sure that was  duly recorded.  Maybe I should have rung the chime.:), that would have earned a few strategy points.  I have never seen Tom Cruise treated this way, even when he bungles part of his mission.

So, what is this thing I have to do now? I really don’t know. All I know is that it is called a “Question Audit”.  Anyone know what a Question Audit is?   What purpose does it serve?   How will it help me become a better teacher?   Shouldn’t I know why I have to collect 5 questions?  These are just a couple of questions that I have about my latest “mission”. I guess I have to complete it, and then my questions will be answered.


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.

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