The third week of school, my Supervisor came by to see me. Apparently, he and I were supposed to set a goal for me to meet professionally. He asked me if I minded if he sat in on my class for a while. Of course, I had expected that he (or someone) would have been by before then to observe my class. It really wasn’t a big deal to me, I prepare the same every day, whether or not I am being observed. But he seemed to think that it would stress me out.
He came into class about 10 minutes later and sat at the back. Now the class that he was observing was my “tough class” – the one that caused Miserable Monday and Wishy Washy Wednesday. The first thing I had planned for the kids was a “pop” quiz on “What Good Readers Do” that we had discussed the previous class. I told the kids to take notes AND I wrote everything on the board. A number of kids weren’t taking notes, hence the “pop” quiz, which was open note. I set a timer and checked in with the kids several times to see if they were finished. Apparently, this “checking-in” is a skill that administrators are looking for because my administrator made tally marks on his paper every time I did it (which was frequently – but not overly so). When the quiz was finished, We discussed (again) “What Good Readers Do” and that I told them to take notes and that if I said they should write it down, they should write it down because I liked to give open note tests and quizzes. Allowing kids to use their resources allows me to make accommodations for most of the kids in my class. Several kids got zero on the quiz (and several got 100%).
Next, I wrote 8 vocabulary words on the board. The kids got out their clocks so they could pair up with their 3 o’clock partner (for those of you not familiar with clock partners – I gave the kids a clock and then had them fill in a partner for 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock. This clock is then used to make sure that the kids are working with different partners on a regular basis). I asked them to find the definitions for all of the words on the board. They were allowed to use their phones, iPods, dictionaries, a computer, etc. any resources that they had, they could use. When all the groups were finished, we got together as a group and discussed the definitions. For one of the words the kids gave me a definition that I was pretty sure they didn’t understand. I asked them if they could put it in their own words (they couldn’t). This is higher-level thinking (I didn’t realize it – it just seemed natural to me). My supervisor was quite impressed. The kids also had the word “plunged.” The definition did not fit the context in the novel we were reading (the kids didn’t know that – we were working on vocabulary before we started reading). So, I asked them if there could be different definitions depending on the usage of the word. I pulled out the novel and read the sentence that had the word. Since the definition didn’t fit, the kids had to re-evaluate their definition. We worked out what plunged meant in context. Another word was awestruck. The kids defined it as filled with awe. No one knew what awe was. So, we discussed other words beginning with awe – awesome – and they decided that awe was “wonder” – so that awestruck was filled with wonder. It was awesome.
Next, we began working on our novel. I started reading aloud and stopped to discuss vocabulary and what was going on in the story. My administrator left shortly after I started reading. The kids liked the book so much that they asked me to continue reading (even though I had planned for us to do something else for the second half of class).
When I spoke with my Administrator he only had positive things to say about his observation. When pressed to have him give me some points to improve upon, he told me that two boys in the back of the classroom were having a side conversation. He said that they were talking very quietly and that he could barely hear them (he was sitting quite close) and that it would have been impossible for me to hear. I guess that means that I need to move around the room more, but it is tough to do that when you are writing on the board.
All in all, it was a great observation. He loved how I paired the kids up and the rapport I had with them. He thought that the vocabulary exercise (and linking it to the novel) was great. And the thing that stuck out the most for me, was that since I had no clue he was coming, this was the lesson I prepared to teach before he planned to observe.
My formal observation is coming up. I know when he is coming and I picked the class that he was to observe (my “good” class). I don’t know what I’m teaching yet, but it will either be writing or the short story, “The Lottery.” We started reading it and haven’t finished. I’m not sure that we are going to be finished with it before the observation. It should be a good experience – the kids are great (and they will know that the administrator is there to observe me), they participate and work well together. There are no side-conversations (usually) and they are a lot of fun. I’ll let you know what happens.
Teachers – what was the best observation you had? What about the worst?