This past week, I had my first formal observation. It did not go so well….
I had spent hours planning an original science and math lesson about organic and non-organic produce for our first graders. We collected data from a blind taste taste to see if we preferred an organic or non-organic Fuji apple, and the next day we organized our data into picture graphs to help us make comparisons of our data and draw evidence-based conclusions.
My observation was on a Wednesday afternoon. However, I had not been in class for that entire week. Although we were still at school, we were participating in a GLAD training, so the kids had been with a substitute teacher all week. Then I pop in briefly for one lesson. The kids were really excited to see their teacher and myself back in the classroom. So excited that when it came time to create our picture graphs, many of them felt it was much more fun to dance and play around than actually pay attention and engage in the activity I had planned. I didn’t know what to do. I had led lessons before, and the strategies I had previously used to maintain focus and engagement had really worked. This time, they failed, quite miserably.
This experience taught me three things in particular:
- The context of an evaluation can be a very important factor in assessing one’s performance. When I evaluate my students, I need to give them the respect they deserve by taking this into account.
- Man, do I have a lot to learn about managing 24 kids, all at the same time. It is a lot easier to sit to the side with a notepad and theorize about my practice than it is to actually jump in and practice it.
- I am not a natural disciplinarian, nor do I feel a desire to learn skills/strategies of authoritative discipline. This part of our practice is going to be a major struggle for me.
Although this observation did not go as well as I had hoped, it was a really valuable learning opportunity. Hopefully it will become a marker of “strong improvement” in the future :]