Last week I had my yearly classroom observation by my principal. Normally, not a big deal. Prior to this year, I have had the same principal for the past 14 years. After 14 years, you know what he/she wants to see. You know what he/she likes and don't like. If you are lucky, as I was, you have a trusting and comfortable professional relationship. I can honestly say that, perhaps with the exception of my first year teaching, I have never been overly concerned or nervous about my yearly observation.
However, this year we have a new principal. We are all still trying to feel him out, as he is us. I think this must be how it feels to start dating again after a long term relationship! ;-D Having said that, I have to admit to being a bit nervous about my observation this year. Had I gotten too comfortable? Did I rely too much on knowing what my previous principal wanted to see in the past? What would this new principal be looking for? It can be a bit disconcerting.
I'm happy to say that I actually felt relieved when he came in. I just wanted to get the whole thing over with. Happily, once I started my lesson, it all just fell into place and I was actually able to forget that he was even there. I think it all went well, but I haven't gotten my observation back yet. So, I guess we will have to wait and see!
What got me started on this post was a posting I read by Lindsay on her blog My Life as a Fifth Grade Teacher. She wrote a post called It's Time to be Formally Observed. As I read it, I started comparing her observation with mine. She was writing about scheduling her formal observation with her AP. What?!!! What is this "scheduling" she speaks of?!! Sooooo different from my observations. In my district, untenured teachers have four observations a year. Three are unannounced with just a post conference and one is scheduled (it might be two of the four scheduled, but I think it's just one) with a pre and post conference. Two of the observations are done by building administration and the other two are done by district administration. Tenured teachers have one formal, unannounced observation with a post conference. That's the category I fall in.
There was something different about my observation this year. My principal observbed me for 90 minutes! That is a looooooooooong time to have someone watch your every move and monitor your every word! In the past, we have always had 45 minute observations. If you know me, you would know that I don't believe in putting on the dog and pony show. It is what it is! But when I looked up and noticed that after an hour he was still there, I have to say that towards the end I was sort of thinking, "Okay, what else can I do here?" It just seemed to go on forever.
He also did a couple of other things that haven't regularly happened in my past observations. He walked around and examined everything in my room, from walls to desks, and very carefully examined each activity my friends were working on. He also questioned the kids about the lesson. None of these things are bad, in fact it probably makes for a more thorough evaluation. I just haven't seen it in a while, so I was a bit surprised.
Havng just been observed and then reading Lindsay's post, I got to thinking about how different observations can be from state to state, town to town. So, just out of curiosity's sake, I have some questions for you. Esentially, what are observations like in your neck of the woods? I would love to hear from you.
- How many observations do you have a year?
- Who does your observations?
- How long are they?
- And, anything else you are willing to share about being observed!
*****Update: I just posted this a few hours ago, but had to come back and update. I have been reading and replying to some of the comments. I have to say I an absolutely floored at just how varied teacher observations are across the country. It really is astounding that they can be so very different! Some of you seem to get slammed with lots of observations while others are in districts that don't seem to view them as the be all and end all. Please, keep the comments coming. They are really interesting to read. I may not be able to comment on them all, but know I'm reading them all as are many others. Thanks for your input and thoughts on this topic.