For way too long in my first years of teaching, the second an administrator walked in to observe me, I started malfunctioning like a weird, anxious robot.
BEEP BOOP BOP. WHAT IS THE LEARNING TARGET …?
I don’t blame former teacher me for behaving oddly. Observations can be tricky for a variety of reasons, among them:
Recently, teachers flooded the comment section of our observation horror stories article with their own observation mishaps.
Buried in those responses were little pieces of advice that shined like little flecks of gold:
“Anytime it’s my observation, I tell the kids admin is there to observe how they are behaving in my class!”
“I was lucky in that nothing unusual happened during the observations I had with my middle school students. I’d prep the students beforehand by telling them the evaluator—usually the principal—was there to observe you. It worked every time.”
“It’s so simple. Prep the students ahead of time to believe an administrator is coming to observe student behavior.”
These teachers have it figured out, y’all.
However, like anything in the classroom, you need to be careful about how you implement this strategy.
P.S. I got to chat with Isabel (one of the teachers who shared this hack), and she said this: “You might also add that teachers, parents, and admin people love to see successful students— ‘successful’ being students with the skills to know how to do school!” We think this trick lets student success be the focus of an observation.
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