My journey to shoot for the moon.

My Observation

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?

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Comments on: "My Observation" (8)

  1. myfriendmissmiller said:

    My first year of teaching was the worst I ever had. I taught BOTH 4th AND 5th grade in one setting, at the same time, and was supposed to differentiate to target BOTH sets of standards. In addition, there were 27 kids and only me, and four of my boys were classified as ED (emotionally disturbed). While I was slightly depressed that first year, cried everyday and almost quit, it really gave me a strong sense of the fact that: It will NEVER be that bad again. Those memories help me get through those rough days/observations.

    On the other hand, I have found that doing something “new” and exciting (but make sure you practice a bit before or offer an incentive for good class behavior) is always a good thing. If your kids work well in groups, put give them assigned “jobs” so that every group member is busy and has a task. My 8th graders LOVE to work together, but only if everyone is held accountable.

    One vocabulary activity I like a lot that my high schoolers love to is a game of vocabulary charades where they have to act out their words, or even pictionary where they have to draw the word on the board. Giving the students the reins for a bit gives you the opportunity to walk around and monitor during those observations.

    Nice blog! 🙂 It is nice to find teachers on here to get ideas from.

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    • Thank you so much for reading. 27 kids in one elementary school class is TOO MANY. Where do you teach?

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      • myfriendmissmiller said:

        I live in Columbus, Ohio. We are an urban school district, but my school is entirely ESL grades 6-12… I teach both 8th and 9th grade Social Studies, and I taught English last year. The first job I had was in the same district but this is only my 2nd year teaching ESL. 🙂 What about you?

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      • I am a new HS teacher – I teach SPED English to 9th and 10th graders. I’ve only been teaching for a month and a half – although I taught preschool for 4.5 years and I was a paraprofessional working with Significant Special Needs kids for 4 years.

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  2. Kudos, Robin …being observed without notice and settin’ your Supervisor back on his heels.

    Blessings – Maxi

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    • Thanks Maxi! Tomorrow is my Formal Observation. I haven’t figured out what I am going to teach yet – a writing lesson (un-tried) or The Most Dangerous Game. I’m leaning towards the writing lesson. . . but since I’ve never taught it, I’m a little worried.

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  3. susan chesen said:

    Hi Robin-
    Loved reading about your class and the amount of info covered – Wow! You are in your element and it shows – glad the administrator had a chance to see you. I am wishing you all the best for continued success – when we hire a new teacher I always look at their family – if any person looked at your family they would know you would be a good teacher – little guys with so much talent don’t just happen – they are a reflection of great parenting and you sure have a lot to be proud of!! keep up the good work – the best is yet to come!!!

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    • Thanks Sue. I love what I do. Most of the time I feel pretty comfortable in my classroom. David went with me one day and told me that he knew that I was a good teacher, but after seeing me in the classroom, he thought I was an amazing teacher. He said that the kids were lucky to have me. Very high praise from a 13-year-old!

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