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Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Nov 28 2011

I can remain calm during a random observation.

My co-principals are not the type to hold pop-up formal observations, but our school definitely has an open door policy. I can’t remember the last whole week when I didn’t have at least one non-faculty member drop by my classroom for anything from a five minute “pop in” to an hour long video taping. Guests have a habit of swinging by my second period English class on Mondays, which I find ironic because we are never doing anything super interesting, Monday is a very routine day, where we read, sometimes work on organizational things or improving our Reader’s Response Journal (RRJ) entries, staple homework into our planners…The cohort I teach during this period – my integrated co-taught class – is so calm and focused at this time that it’s never a big concern to have new faces watching, unless they get in the way (my classroom’s not huge). Really, my door is always open, event at more frazzled times. I’m happy to have visitors come by, and even more so if they leave some feedback on my teaching and classroom.

Today’s pop-servation was different than usual, which is probably why I felt unnerved. Usually we receive e-mails from the principals about who to expect – for example, I know that this week on Wednesday a big group of principals from schools that share our model are coming, and I know some visitors from a leadership graduate program are coming on Thursday. The newsletter for this week explicitly noted that nothing special was going on today, so when a gentleman in a tweed jacket stepped in I was a little surprised. He watched for a bit (my kids were doing their independent reading), then began asking me questions. How often do you have kids read? Do they share out about their books? Etc. etc. etc. He also asked to take a photograph of my “Sticky Note Wall of Fame,” which is where I put up assessed sticky notes that have earned 3s, 3.5s, and 4s on my rubric. I wonder what that was all about.

How often are you observed by visitors at your school? How do you feel during observations? Does it bother you if guests ask you questions while you work?

2 Responses

  1. G

    I’m a second year and walkthroughs/observations don’t faze me anymore. I acknowledge the visitors with a nod or a smile and carry on. My class has learned to ignore them too, although sometimes they decide that visitor time is the perfect time to get chatty!

    I don’t mind being asked questions during observations, especially if the kids are doing independent work…it took me a whole year to get to this point. Last year, I DESPISED walkthroughs!

  2. msmteachesreading

    @G: My first year I taught in a school where observations were often random and often resulted in some kind of angry letter. I began working at a brand new school my second year, and so observations – the great kind, like I describe above – were almost daily! Nowadays, I hardly mind observations, but I don’t like being pulled out of my teacher groove with chatty bits though, especially if the kids are doing something that really demands silence (like IR).

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an NYC third-year teaches reading, writing, and everything in between

New York
Middle School

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