Let’s Talk Teacher Observations or You Gotta Read This To Believe It!

This is a true story.  Ask anyone who was a witness to it which is two administrators and twenty-three freshmen.  I am eating a Krispy Kreme donut as I recall the entire horrid story.  Teachers, you will never again worry about what could go wrong during an observation. Been there, done that, I lived.  We teachers are made of tough stuff.  I have come to realize that my blog is being read oversees, so if some of you are educators and are not observed teaching by an administrator on a regular basis, I may need to move where you are very soon.

This tale began with my principal telling me that he needed to observe an administrator observing a teacher.  Two administrators in my room–ok, got this.  I planned, wrote a stellar lesson plan and prepared my room.  I went over the checklist in my mind of all the things that I had done wrong in the past, or really, the things that they told me I did wrong.  If you are not an educator, you know that when the administrator who conducted the observation sits you down afterwards, he must tell you something that you did wrong.  After all, there’s no such thing as the perfect observation, right? That’s the way it goes.  Once an administrator informed me that I needed to display student work even though if that administrator had looked to the left, he might have realized that there was a wall full of student work or that I really like making random, not so good posters to hang on my wall with different names on them.  But who am I to question an administrator…  Now in my room the words “Student Work” is on the wall in big print above that student work.  Just want to be clear.

So, I was ready.  Here’s the agonizing play by play.

1.  The bell that tells students to leave first block and move to second block was ten minutes late ringing.  That’s not happened for no apparent reason in a long time.  I had an action packed lesson ready with grammar, students using white boards for immediate evaluation, students writing individual answers, reading out loud, reading silently, my reading to them, discussion with students’ volunteering answers, my calling on students to answer, and a writing lesson that I threw in to check that writing section on the evaluation.  We will never actually use that writing lesson for anything, but remember I was checking off all the nonsensical areas that I have been told the “administrator didn’t see that”.  So as the bell WAS NOT RINGING TO LET CLASS START ON TIME, I was already stressing.

2.  When we finally were ready to start second period, my students were a little disheveled.  I got them settled, and we quickly moved into this lesson.  Hear the theme to “Rocky” in the background.  I do have one student that is special, and he was just standing beside me.  I asked him if he needed something to which he replied, “No, I am just standing here. ”  This is typical behavior for him, so I just quietly told him to have a seat please and thought, “Please, not today. Just don’t move.” A student asked me if he could go to the restroom and that day, I said, “Yes” with no fight, but of course I was thinking, “What do high school kids think that break between classes is for?”  I have since asked him that question, and I am not certain that it registered what I was saying.  The mind of a thirteen year old.

3.  I began my lesson (still got that “Rocky” music going on, right) and it was rolling.  Even though two people came to my door, one needing to ask me something and one needing to turn in make up work, and the student came back from the bathroom, I was not distracted.  Students were answering questions, reading out loud, on task, following my every cue.

4.  Then, a boy had a nose bleed.  He raised his hand, asked to leave, but poor kid, not until blood was on his shirt.

5.  Next, a girl who had been out all week for sickness, felt sick.  I got her out of the room without much commotion.  She was fine.

6.  At this point, I had really begun to think, “Is there a page for special situations on the evaluation sheet and have we checked enough boxes yet?”  I was watching the clock, going as fast as I could trying to get in every piece of this lesson.  No child left behind and no box on that evaluation form left unchecked.

7.  Then, it happened.  The door to my room starts unlocking with the sound of all those administrator keys and there he is:  administrator number three walks in my room to do a surprise evaluation.  “You’ve got to be kidding me,” was all I could think as we all stopped and looked at each other.  Out of the corner of my eye, I could see my principal quietly laughing.  The administrator who had entered quickly left.  One more administrator and every administrator at my high school would have all been in my classroom. Unbelievable.

What did I do?  I kept going.  THIS WAS AN OBSERVATION AND I WAS NOT STOPPING FOR ANYTHING.  I wasn’t doing this again.

There you have it.  God has an amazing sense of humor.  We have all laughed about this, and I will forever be the best story at my school for what could go wrong during an evaluation.  Go ahead–you are laughing at my expense again, aren’t you?  It’s ok.

Still praying for you, fellow educators–it’s only September.  God’s got this.

Kathy McBroom

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