Do you want to really make a teacher mad? Mention the word “observation” and then run for your life.
Observations are times set aside for administrators to come into a teacher’s classroom and evaluate how well they are teaching the grade level standards and managing the classroom, among other things. Most teachers are evaluated using some type of rubric.
Outsiders looking in might wonder why teachers stress over observations. They might argue that other professions require evaluations by supervisors. While this may be true, teachers have their reasons why they typically dread observations. Here are my thoughts…
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Teachers dread observations because they don’t always paint the most accurate pictures of their classrooms.
Depending on the school district, teachers may be required to have an announced and an unannounced observation. Imagine that your administrator has never stepped foot in your classroom all year. Yep, this has happened to me. However, he or she will come at least twice because they have to. Now, this administrator, who has no idea how you run your classroom, will come in and evaluate you. I’m sorry, but that administrator might come on a day that is off for myself and my students. But because my administrator truly doesn’t know me, my students, or my classroom, they won’t recognize that I’m having an off day. They might just say that I don’t know how to run my classroom. Does that seem fair to you?
Teachers dread observations because administrators make a big deal about them.
I have had my fair share of administrators in my years as a teacher. I have had experiences with administrators who hype up observations so much that I felt beyond nervous to make sure I did the “right thing.” Hello! I know what I’m doing. No lie, I have put on a full performance in the classroom during an observation for the sake of pleasing my administrator. Just hand me my Oscar Award right now. I’ve earned it.
In reality, I want my administrator to observe me teaching in a normal way. I don’t want to pretend that everything is perfect and wonderful. Sometimes my kids are lost during my lessons. Sometimes a student has a meltdown or outburst. Sometimes I have to call on the name of the Lord to help me get through a difficult lesson. That’s the real in my classroom, teacher friends.
Teachers dread observations because bias is involved.
I don’t care if they give administrators 100 rubrics to use, unfortunately some administrators will score their teachers low because they don’t want them to be successful. It happens. Don’t debate me on this. It is wrong, so very wrong, but I know that it happens. Furthermore, some administrators will refuse to give their teachers higher scores because their school does not perform well. Their thinking is “how can I have highly effective teachers when my school score is an F?” Could it be that your teachers are highly effective, but your students need more support? If my administrator is rarely in my classroom, they aren’t going to view my lesson with respect to all of the other lessons they’ve seen me teach. No instead, they will compare my lesson to my co-worker’s whom they just observed an hour ago.
Teachers dread observations because they are tied to their end of the year rating and/or used for merit pay.
After each observation, I meet with my administrator and nervously wait for my all-important rating. This is the score that I receive from my administrator based on the rubric used to evaluate my observed lesson. Never mind if my kids understood the concepts that I taught. How ‘bout that rating tho? In the past, in some areas of the country, teachers’ ratings were printed in the newspaper. A little scrutiny never hurt anyone. Furthermore, many districts provide stipends for teachers who have a highly effective rating. All that any of this does is put more pressure on teachers. We already know how to teach. Why make us compete as well? I guarantee you, teachers have gone to the ends of the earth to make the most spectacular lesson for their administrators to see, all for the sake of receiving that extra bonus. You know, something added on to that massive paycheck that we get.
So What Do We Do About This?
Please don’t think that I am saying that we should not be evaluated on our teaching. I understand the need, and I know that it will never go away; however, I don’t like the process. The process is severely broken. What’s worse is that our education leaders who are creating these rating systems either haven’t stepped inside a classroom since 1969 or they’ve never been in a classroom at all. *cough* DeVos *cough*
So what do we do, teacher friends?
Close your door and teach your heart out. Be there every day for your students. No one knows what your students need more than you. When it is time for your observation, teach your lesson just like you do every day. Don’t stress yourself out for a rating. Don’t worry about putting on a show for your administrator. Use the teaching strategies that you have mastered in your year or years of teaching.
I have finally let go of the tremendous amount of theatrics. The real story of my classroom is that sometimes I pull rabbits out of hats and make my students go wild, and sometimes we just talk about the skill being taught using a worksheet. #sorrynotsorry Every day is a new adventure in my classroom. I adapt based on my students. I don’t care what my rating is. If my students understand the concepts, then my work is done. I wish that more administrators understood that. Even if they don’t, we know that we are giving it our all each day in our classrooms.
Don’t stop. Get it, get it.
What do you think administrators or school districts could do to improve the observation process? Tell me in the comments below.
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