Tuesday, March 8, 2016

My Teacher Observation - Not the Danielson Kind...

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.

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!