Last week behind the efforts of my school's House Leaders and staff, I had the chance to do something I had not done since I student taught - observe another teacher in my building. It was not for a grade, not for a rubric score - it was for me. And it was everything I expected and more.
In my new position as a technology teacher; every single student in the building will have the chance to come through my classroom doors. This was a large change from my previous four years of teaching experience as a Gen Ed Language Arts Teacher.
I knew that the next group of students coming through my doors would present a different set of challenges, and thanks to the efforts of my colleagues - giving up an additional Planning period to cover one of my classes - I had the chance to watch the a true veteran special education teacher work her magic in the classroom.
As soon as the students walked into the room and the lesson started, I understood how I needed to change and adjust my assignments. The procedures in place are simple and effective. The communication is clear and to the point - this set of students function together and work together. Different levels of vigor, different levels of research, different levels of questioning - all combined into the SAME level of expectations. I was able to observe my future students with the teacher that had EVERY DAY for the last six months. The relationships have already been formed and now I have a model for how I need to approach each student. It is like having a small cheat sheet for the students you are going to get - why would you NOT do this more??
(On a Side Note - The lesson was about the "Last Great Race" - the Iditarod. Funny enough - my mom, a pre-school teacher, has been teaching the Iditarod for as long as I can remember, so I actually knew a lot about what was going on in the class. Now, the students were not dressed as dogs, and mushers as they were in Pre-School but I loved seeing this again! I will be tracking my racer over the next few checkpoints to see how he is doing compared to the rest of this class.)
With all the time I spend on lesson plans, grading, assessing, differentiating, SGOing etc. I never took the time to look around and watch the true experts that I have in my school. I know this type of observation is worth the time and effort as I have made a connection - although a brief one - with the students starting my class in a few days. I have a set of expectation that I can continue from their class into mine.
And what did it take?
1 Hour that will help my get started on the right foot with my new set of students.
My suggestion: Observe someone else doing what they do best - working with their students.
I cannot wait for my next opportunity to try and observe another teacher and in the mean time - I will open my door to any one of my colleagues who would like to observe me and hopefully learn a little something from me!