Ignoring the Elephant in the Room: Surviving Observations

You have been in your classroom for less than a month.  A supervisor (possibly one you really don’t know) is sitting in your class, eyeing you up and judging your work.  It is nerve-racking for any new teacher.  Here are some things I wish I knew that would help me get more comfortable with the process the first time around:

– It’s not a dog and pony show, but if you can schedule it… don’t pick a snoozer!  This sounds so obvious, but if it is a scheduled observation, look at your schedule and if you have a great idea on the horizon, use it!

– If you are thinking of taking chances, trying something new, or putting yourself out there… Run it by your allies, ask them where the potential problems will be, how can you use procedures to eliminate these? Try establish great procedures and routines to address the hang ups.

– Try to schedule a lesson that does not involve you staying in one place, standing in front of the room (and basically looking at the person taking notes on your teaching)  My first great observation was one in which I scheduled a lesson where I was teaching small groups.  Not only was I demonstrating more of the skills my observer was looking for, but I barely noticed that she was there.  I realized that day, that the easiest way to teach well during an observation, IGNORE THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM!  You do this every day, so why not now… Just because there is someone staring at you does not mean you have to put yourself in a position to stare back.

– Reflect.  Not just after the process, but during the process.  Work through how your lesson is going to function, think about where problems will occur.  After the lesson, identify what went well and what did not.  Go into your meeting knowing what you would change (there is ALWAYS something.)

-Last, and this definitely happened to me: If you are teaching a lesson during an observation and the sky starts falling: admit defeat, wave the white flag, and move on to your next lesson.  You don’t get any points for going down with the ship!  Your supervisor will likely give your more credit for recognizing that a lesson is failing, regrouping, and living to fight another day.  If your lesson tanks, you will have to teach the content again anyway.  You do not have to power through just because you are being observed, move to the next part of your day…

No matter what your first few observations are stressful, you want to validate your hiring, show you are a good teacher, and be your best.  Remember, this is one close up snap shot of your practice.  It does not define you as an educator.  What will define you is not the one person with a computer/notepad in the back of your room, it is the little faces between you and that person and the impact you have on their lives.  Be your best by focusing on your students!


Good Luck!


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