Today’s Tip: Make it Real
“I hate being observed,” says elementary teacher Justin Minkel (who was the 2007 Arkansas Teacher of the Year) in an article in Education Week. “When my principal walks in with her laptop or a clipboard and pen, I’m instantly afflicted by a crippling self-doubt I haven’t felt since junior high. I scan the room with the alert panic a gazelle must feel when scanning the
savannah for predators.”
A lot of SAM teams address this issue directly by de-emphasizing formal evaluation and focusing on regular and frequent coaching visits.
Take a look at these ideas:
Ask the teacher if you can sit and work with a group of students during the lesson while you observe.
This allows you to help at the same time you are observing. If this isn’t allowed by contract during a formal observation ask if the teacher waive the restriction so you can work with the teacher as a coach and colleague.
If that won’t work, make all of your informal observations “work with
students”. Your teachers and students will love the change.
Do frequent mini-observations or walkthroughs and make sure that feedback is regular, clear and specific.
Offer to model a lesson several times each year and invite teachers to observe...and then give you feedback in a meeting after school on how you could have done better. This can help break down barriers as teachers are able to talk about practice without fear.
Pay attention to student learning behavior when you observe, Help by redirecting student attention to the teacher and use proximity to keep kids focused.
Place “my table, lunch” tickets on the desks of students who exhibit great learning behavior. Talk with the kids during the time you are supervising the lunch room.
Offer to grade a set of student papers while you observe. Teachers love the help and you will see student work. You might even take a few students aside and talk with them about their papers.