I stressed and worried about it. Then I put it to the side of my mind, thinking that whatever happens just happens. Then I worried that my principal would be so horrified about my classroom that he would fire me on the spot. Then I realized that I could only improve after a bad evaluation. (Actually, Cindy made me realize this.) Then I began to stress again.
Well, it's over now. And it went pretty well. As I think back over the time--before and after--here are a few things that I learned (or relearned).
- Being prepared is more than half the battle. This observation also evaluated planning, so I had to write out a complete lesson plan for the hour. And I had everything ready and at hand, moving more or less smoothly from one thing to the next. I need to be better prepared, more detailed in my day-to-day teaching.
- Variety is best. We used a book, played a game that included music, wrote individual answers on white boards, worked in pairs, drew pictures, did motions to remember the main point. We did stuff in a large group on our rug and at our desks. Lots of different things helped keep kids on task and drove home the main point. I need to make sure I use a variety of techniques as we learn each day.
- Know what the point is. I posted what we were learning, repeated it often, asked the kids to repeat it, and reinforced it throughout the different activities. I need to make sure the point is clear--to me and the kids--as we learn each day.
- Stuff always happens and you must just roll with it. The class phone rang and the office called a child to leave early. I had to get her stuff together and her out the door while maintaining the class (just like I do every day). The computer went to sleep mode and I had to get it back up to play the music for our game. Kids wandered (like they always do) and some lost focus. I need to be ready to roll with interruptions and distractions and move us all back to task (or just laugh when those things happen).
- At the end of the time, we were all still together, still in one piece, and still learning. Sure there were things that could have been better. There were things I could have done better. There were things I should have said (and maybe not said). But kids did learn. And we were able to build on it the next day again. I need to remember that nothing is ever perfect but usually is good enough.
I'll have a few more of these observations this year. And I'll get anxious and concerned again. But I'm determined to remember - whatever happens will happen and I can just do my best and learn from it. (And maybe eat some chocolate cake after it's all over!)