The very thought of them often elicits, headaches, nausea and stabbing feeling on the right side of the forehead.
Perhaps I exaggerate.
But no matter how long you’ve been teaching, having your principal or a power that be come in with a clipboard to see what you’ve doing is sure to get the pulse racing.
Over the years I’ve had two types of observations; the principal just drops in and that’s your teaching observation. The second, you schedule an appointment and spend the next few weeks fretting and over planning. The lesson is more for the benefit of looking good as teacher than student learning.
And there’s the third one.
Where you schedule an appointment and then completely forget about the lesson until you get a reminder on your iPhone 10 minutes beforehand.
Yes that happened to me.
I booked the appointment thinking it was week 2 and felt my heart sink to the floor when week 1 of term that alert popped up.
At this point there’s nothing much you can do.
To further add to the misery, a group kids arrived back after play with a disagreement that needed sorting out so there was no warning for anyone (including my poor teaching assistant) that the principal would be with us for next period.
The class and I just had to get on with what we were doing.
And here’s the thing, it was so much better.
The lesson might not have been the model lesson – there was no WALT and the success criteria weren’t there – but is was authentic. I was trying out back-channeling in the class for the first time, and without a skipping a beat handed the principal a laptop and flicked him a link over to the discussion. In the process I had some genuine feedback on what I was doing and how I could use the tool more effectively and the principal had the opportunity to see something new.
Maybe we need to reframe the idea of classroom observations.
Surely it should be a conversation, an opportunity for both teachers and administrators to learn and grow?
Rather than perfectly planned lessons with well-behaved children, I see the mark of a great lesson observation when the person observing learns something new or at least has something interesting to ponder after they’ve spent time in the class I teach.