Observations and the Unknown

I kicked off my first round of teacher observations ever this week with just one, and it seriously blew me away.

Grammar Class by durian on Flickr
Grammar Class by durian on Flickr

I hadn’t done it before for multiple reasons, many of which now sound like excuses. To be fair, I found it genuinely difficult to make the major time investment required based only on the promise of future, possibly intangible returns. There are a good many concrete, measurable, predictable things I need to accomplish at the learning center, and the amorphous notion that I “should” conduct teacher observations just couldn’t compete.

What finally made it happen? My volunteers asked to be observed.

Well, ok, it’s not just that I’m a pushover. I’ve gotten better and better at my job, and more importantly, I’ve gotten better at receiving help. I managed to free up some time I used to spend on the day-to-day admin grunt work so I can now do non-survival things like laminate our previously pathetic classroom signs, clear junk out of our office, and observe my teachers.

The volunteer I watched this week is quite new to teaching.  He used to assistant teach with an experienced teacher; this evening was his first solo class.  It was a resounding success. Watching the learning happen, seeing how his preparation was paying off, and taking note of his natural talent for leading a classroom was simply a joy. I jotted specific notes for him throughout, and it was fun to give him the feedback and debrief. We discussed his challenge for next week: at least 20 minutes of small group work for the students. He seems really excited about it, and I am too!

I really didn’t know what to expect when I walked into his classroom.  What I found there was a beautiful success filled with potential for even more.  Being right there to watch and encourage it was just fantastic.

Observations are officially my favorite.

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