This week I had my first official lesson observation in 10 years. I was nervous for the formality of event, but eager to get feedback. I survived. Here’s my survival guide.
1. Find some kids.
In my current position, I work with small groups of students in an RTI model and teachers in a coaching capacity. This means I don’t have my own classroom of lovely cherubs for my principal to observe. I had to find a fellow teacher who would be willing to turn over his or her class to me for the TPEP process. I realized quickly that I would need to borrow these students for longer than 1 session in order to build routines, rapport, and some pre-skills with the students. You might have your own group of kids. Now you’re ready for Step
2. Pick a Skill.
The teacher and I narrowed the skill I would teach to sequencing. I decided to teach a mini-unit on sequencing and summarizing, lasting 3 lessons and spanning 2 weeks. The last lesson would be my observation.
I was so excited to plan this lesson, I dove into all my resources (namely readworks). I planned the whole unit.
- Plan and Ask for Feedback
I asked for feedback from a few peers. We all decided I was biting off more than I could chew. My friend Lisa said, “What is the standard you’re teaching? Does this lesson hit at that standard? Are you trying to accomplish too much?” Great reminders! Back to the drawing board!
- Try Not to Obsess
As the lesson approached, I began to re-think all aspects of the lesson: Should I include more higher level questions? Yes! Should I add extension activities at the end so I can push the thinking of early finishers? Yes! All the re-planning made me a little giddy.
- Pick a Cute Outfit and Take a Deep Breath
Then the big day arrived. I planned my outfit carefully (come on, I know I’m not the only teacher who tries to dress for success on Observation Day). I tried to keep my blood pressure low. I brought in treats for the kids as a small bribe for doing well for me, a guest teacher.
The lesson went fine. Not my best ever. But not a train wreck.
15 out of 20 students met the standard of sequencing the events, then summarizing the 3 main events in order. Of the 5 students who did not meet standard, one student was absent during the 2nd lesson and missed instruction on summarizing. One student was not finished. The other 3 students put events in order, but I would want to talk with those students about their choices of important events.
During all 3 lessons I used a structured talk protocol. Grouping students for structured talk was the most successful during this lesson. Students were more familiar with their partner and understood the talking and listening turn taking.
The biggest disaster of the lesson was bringing students back from their self-selected locations for a final debrief. My directions were obviously unclear and I felt like I was yelling at everyone to come back and just Sit-Down-Quietly-Please!! I used my counting backwards strategy that works with my 3 year old and these kids just didn’t recognize that I mean business when I start counting backwards.
In all, I survived.
I will receive valuable feedback from my principal. I’m a better teacher as a result of this process.