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How do you cope with observed classes? I am terrrified, please help.I am a new teacher...

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beefheart | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted June 18, 2010 at 3:58 PM via web

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How do you cope with observed classes? I am terrrified, please help.

I am a new teacher in my second year and our school is having a full inspection at the end of next term. Our local authority has a very very strict reputation and I am terrified.

How do you cope with obesrved classes? What should I do?

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 18, 2010 at 4:15 PM (Answer #2)

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This is difficult to teach someone - but really, just teach your class like they aren't there and think of it as an opportunity for you to get FREE ADVICE.  Don't try to impress.  In fact, hope for a bad day.  When I have to schedule an observation, I usually pick my WORST class rather than my best (like most teachers do) and then hope my class acts out so I can get advice from an outside perspective on what I can do to improve - see things I'm missing.

If you really are a competant teacher (and you probably are - don't underestimate yourself), then they'll see your strengths but also point out areas for growth - which is ultimately the point.  Plus, having them come to the worst class helps me to feel supported when I am overwhelmed by major behavioral problems.  Often - these "bad" observations lead to administrative changes that benefit the entire school.

*PS: keep this in mind - you will NOT be the worst teacher ever observed by that administrator.  Trust me.  Someone has definitely been worse than you.  Probably far worse.  Hope that helps.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 19, 2010 at 11:42 AM (Answer #3)

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I agree.  What good does it do to try to be someone or do something you aren't just for an observation. 

If you do, you won't be as comfortable and natural as you generally are, and that will cause everyone to be ill at ease.  The teacher-class relationship is part of what you do every day, and it's that give and take which (presumably) creates the learning/teaching environment best suited to you and them. 

If you do something contrary to what you usually do, your class is likely to give you away, anyway.  I've found that  students are generally eager to be at their most impressive on observation days, so take advantage of that and plan a lesson which will use that willingness to participate and be engaged.  You're a team, so be their captain and get something accomplished--regardless of the observation (or perhaps despite it!).

If you can do that--really just enjoy the lesson and the kids--whatever happens in the observation will be fine.  Use any criticisms to improve, bask in the glow of any compliments, and see it as a learning experience either way. 

Relax, enjoy, and do what you know.  You'll be great!

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 19, 2010 at 11:30 PM (Answer #4)

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Another important thing to remember is that the administrator who shows up to observe you is not doing so looking for you to make a mistake or to write you a bad evaluation.  They are doing so because by law in each state they are required to.  Their desks and schedules are packed with things they would rather be doing.  Not that they won't pay attention to your teaching, but my point is they don't want nor are they looking for you to screw up.  They are there to help.  They'll offer constructive criticism, hopefully, and that can make you a better teacher.  I've been teaching for many years, and I remind myself as often as possible that I still don't know everything, and if someone else can give me some friendly pointers, then I'll be better off for it.  So will you.

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ramd | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 20, 2010 at 3:39 AM (Answer #5)

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Just take a deep breath when the supervisor comes in, smile and just be yourself.  Act and speak naturally and try to make the discussion as interesting as possible.  Inject some tasteful humor in the process and in the end, regard it as the best performance of your life.

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besure77 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted June 23, 2010 at 5:03 PM (Answer #6)

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I find that the best thing to do is to try to be relaxed. Observations can be very stressful and I have found that if I try to be as relaxed as I possibly can then I usually do better. If you know that you are doing a good job then you should not worry. Just show a lot of enthusiasm for what you are teaching the children and that will shine through.

Your supervisor will always give you suggestions for improvement so do not worry about that. There is not one person on the planet who is perfect.

I have also found that supervisors love it when some sort of technology is integrated into the lesson.

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renee2181 | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 24, 2010 at 12:10 PM (Answer #7)

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I have found it amusing to toss a curriculum-related question to the observer.  They are so busy trying to figure out how to not make a fool of themselves that they forget to observe your teaching practices, which I'm sure would have been stellar had the observer not been in the classroom :-)

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susan3smith | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted June 28, 2010 at 7:06 PM (Answer #8)

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I too am petrified.  This year our county used the observation instrument as a means to cut teachers.  If a teacher received an NI (needs improvement), that teacher's contract was not renewed.  Talk about pressure!

Since my class is so often discussion oriented, I sometimes have trouble thinking on my feet when there is an observer.  Fortunately, I have a good relationship with my students and they are eager to display what they know.  I think this is true of most students.  Students are aware that there is an observer in the classroom, so no one acts completely natural.  But most try very hard to show their best selves--teachers and students alike.

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mermaid1441 | Elementary School Teacher | eNoter

Posted June 30, 2010 at 8:10 AM (Answer #9)

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Your Principal is looking for a classroom in which the children are motivated, involved and working effectively.  Talk to your students before the observation and tell them the Principal will be watching them as they work to see who is doing the best. Morivate them by offering s class reward after the observation.  Have your lesson prepared in your lesson plan book, including the Madeline Hunter Mastering Learning technique as follows:  Write the lesson objective on the board and state it to the class.  Model the skill to be learned.  Have students practice with you.  Then, have them do the task independently.  Walk around the class, monitoring who is doing it correctly.  Help those who need individual assistance.  Evaluate with a short quiz to see who mastered the skill.  Then tell the class when and how you will reteach until all students have mastered the skill.  Use visual aids to teach the lesson.  Illustrate points with concrete objects when possible.  Have the students use manipulatives, if appropriate.  Have them work in pairs or groups of four, cooperative learning. Demonstarte that you have excellent classroom control, that your students respect you and one another.  Smile.  Be yourself, and have fun.  Teaching is the greatest career!  You really DO make a difference in the lives of your students!

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ktmagalia | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted June 30, 2010 at 8:35 AM (Answer #10)

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Don't plan a dog and pony show.  Be your own natural self.  An evaluator can smell an act a mile away, PLUS, the kids will be wondering what the heck is going on. STICK TO YOUR REGULAR ROUTINE. This is nOT the time to try out that "great lesson" you've been saving.  Do something that your kids are familiar with and an activity that they like. However, organize, organize, organize.  Make sure you to have a clear agenda (visible) that has the obvious components: purpose of lesson, the actual lesson, activity, and follow up.  Be sure to engage the students.  Have the students do more talking than you.  If kids are engaged, so will the evaluator.  It's hard to say not to be nervous, because you will be (I've been teaching 25 years and still get a little tightly wound), but you'll survive.  Try to enjoy the experience as you will get great feedback from your administrator and become better for it.  So, you are sharing the great things that happen in your classroom, not being judged!

 I would, as the prior poster suggests, let the kids know that Mrs.____ is coming in to check out what we do in class.  I would avoid telling them that he or she is coming in to "evaluate" or "watch" you, the teacher. And if you are teaching in a high school, you don't want to make it a big deal. Just keep it low key, and they will follow suit.  They get a little thrown off by that thinking that they could get you in trouble if they do something "wrong" so they could end up not saying much, or if you have a troublemaker who isn't a member of you fan club, you want to avoid "sabotage". Keep in as normal as possible.

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lollicam | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 1, 2010 at 7:55 PM (Answer #11)

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I agree with not putting on a dog and pony show for anyone that walks into your room.  At my school we have teacher learning walks, parent learning walks, and administrative "walk throughs", LCT "walk throughs", and departmental "walk throughs", as well as the official PDAS evaluation.  It can be overwhelming at times, but what I have learned through all of the feedback is that they like when the students are actively engaged, and talking accountably about the lesson at hand.  If you happen to be in the middle of a lesson that requires more individualized work, just be sure to actively monitor students, and be sure they are all on task and ask individualized questions to keep them accountable.  They also love seeing student expectations for learning posted, a warm up/ sponge activity and a closing question, student work displayed, word walls, and the use of different types of learning strategies (stop and jot, kwl's, foldables...etc.) Also, it doesn't hurt to let students know what your expectations are of them when another adult walks into the room, regardless of whether it's for evaluation or not.  One teacher at my school has the students stand when an adult walks into the room.  A little too much for my taste, but it works for her.

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madscientistmom | High School Teacher | eNoter

Posted July 5, 2010 at 5:31 PM (Answer #12)

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  • Go to you evaluator and ask what they are looking for in an evaluation.
  • Make sure lesson objective/ standard/ agenda is posted in your classroom.
  • Prep your students that an evaluator is coming and what you expect when someone shows up in the classroom.  Put them at least that they are evaluating you and not them and how they can help.
  • Keep things normal and routine.
  • Neither your students nor you evaluator is out to get you.  This is your opportunity to shine.
  • Take a deep breath, smile and be yourself.
  • Do your a massive favor.  Go buy a jingle bell and tie it to a ribbon around your door knob.  Therefore, no one comes in or leaves without you knowing!  No more looking up and finding a principal in your room.

Honestly, evaluators are interested in your success.  I enjoy and encourage evaluators to come to my room, as much as possible.  You should to.

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ktmagalia | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted July 6, 2010 at 8:11 AM (Answer #13)

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  • Go to you evaluator and ask what they are looking for in an evaluation.
  • Make sure lesson objective/ standard/ agenda is posted in your classroom.
  • Prep your students that an evaluator is coming and what you expect when someone shows up in the classroom.  Put them at least that they are evaluating you and not them and how they can help.
  • Keep things normal and routine.
  • Neither your students nor you evaluator is out to get you.  This is your opportunity to shine.
  • Take a deep breath, smile and be yourself.
  • Do your a massive favor.  Go buy a jingle bell and tie it to a ribbon around your door knob.  Therefore, no one comes in or leaves without you knowing!  No more looking up and finding a principal in your room.

Honestly, evaluators are interested in your success.  I enjoy and encourage evaluators to come to my room, as much as possible.  You should to.

Oh I lOVE the jingle bell idea.  I get so immersed in what I'm doing sometimes, that I don't always notice someone slinking in.  Back in my early years of teaching, I had a sneaky principal who liked to play "caught ya"...seriously.  I was really sick one day, should have stayed at home, and my students were doing seat work.  It was dead quiet, and I bascially was at my desk trying to hold my 200 lb. head up.  All of a sudden a student got up quietly and whispered in my ear that the principal had been sitting in a desk for 15 minutes.  Oh my.  Jingle bell would have saved me a little embarrassment.

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gr8ious | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 6, 2010 at 9:19 PM (Answer #14)

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I have always believed that "if the house is in order, it doesn't matter who visits." My staff and I plan and post "directed instruction" days for our students and our administrators are in on the same information. Of course, we have a different scenario being alternative school teachers in a program that required the English department to have different grade levels of students in class at the same time so there is always something to direct. I think the most important thing to note is classroom management and subject knowledge. If you know what you are talking about and your students are engaged, busy, and on task (and you are not spending all day sitting behind your desk) you will be fine. I make sure that my classroom is neat and the student's work stations are efficient and my classroom is run like a well managed business. I am the supervisor and my students are my staff. They are trained to take care of business from day one; I respect them so they respect me and I never forget who pays my salary; who is the customer. You'll be fine because you care and a few nerves are always a good thing. I have been teaching for years and I still get butterflies.

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science101 | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 16, 2010 at 12:09 PM (Answer #15)

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How do you cope with observed classes? I am terrrified, please help.

I am a new teacher in my second year and our school is having a full inspection at the end of next term. Our local authority has a very very strict reputation and I am terrified.

How do you cope with obesrved classes? What should I do?

  Remember it is not a performance you are teaching to your class just like any other day.  Ignore them and not react when you see them taking notes.  Teach to the whole class, make eye contact with everyone even the observer.  Ask open ended questions and continue to challenge students for more and more information if possible.  As I always tell new teachers that I mentor "it is not a horse and pony show", be real and honest and open with your students.  Correct yourself if you make a mistake and let students how you are always learning just as they are.  GOOD LUCK

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engtchr5 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted July 29, 2010 at 4:22 AM (Answer #16)

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All these aforementioned posts have very good tips. I have been both the observed and the observer, so here's a few specific things you can do to ensure that your visitor sees good things:

-- Make sure your objective for the class is visibly posted.

-- Have in place a followed agenda or schedule of class events that is your usual "routine:" bellwork-->classwork, projects and discussion-->exit slip/bell-ringer-->homework seems to be a fairly successful formula, but everybody's different.

-- Transition fluidly from one part of your agenda to the next. Your class should seem "seamless" in its approach.

-- If behavior issues arise, deal with them as you normally would. Evaluators at our school usually look for a three-step process of some sort: non-verbal warning (desk tap, hand signal, etc.) followed by a firm and semi-private verbal warning, and then an appropriate consequence if the two previous warnings have not been followed.

There are other evaluation areas obviously (your knowledge of the content area, your classroom environment, etc.), but these three above are big helpers to get you off on the right foot.

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doremi9642 | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 5, 2010 at 1:27 PM (Answer #17)

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When I am being observed I try to teach a lesson that I have taught in the past, so that, for my own comfort level, I have an idea already how the lesson goes and what changes need to be made.  I definitely let the kids know that we will be having a visitor....and have been known to tell them that the observer is there to see THEM and the kinds of things that we do in class.

It can't hurt to make sure ahead of time that the students know the targets/objectives for every lesson, so that when an observation does occur it is obvious that they have history with the subject matter and understand what it is that they are trying to accomplish.

My biggest concern with observations is classroom management/behavior.  Know your content thoroughly, and you are then free to concentrate on pacing. student engagement and participation.  For classes that will not cooperate i use a behavior modification system.  Each student writes their name on a card at the beginning of class.  If they still have that card at the end of class, )meaning that i did not have to take it for bad behavior,) they put it into a common container. I pull one for a small reward, which could be a tangible item or a homework pass, or whatever you creativily come up with. Of course, this all is established pre-observation. (Way pre-observation.  :0)

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