The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Formal Observations

I had my second formal observation by my principal this afternoon. It was originally planned for yesterday, but if there is one thing I have learned about being a principal, it is that things change all the time and both they and their teachers have to learn to just roll with it!

Every time I have an observation I tell my students in advance and let them know that she is not just coming to see what I am doing, but also to see what my students are doing. I try to do everything I can to make the lesson as natural and routine as I can. Even while acknowledging the observer effect in physics, I really want my principal to see what normally happens in my classroom.

I have tried to do this in every job I have had. When I worked in dining services at the university and our bosses would come through to observe, I always continued to do what I was doing normally. My rationale was simple: if I was doing something wrong, I wanted someone to tell me. If I was doing something wrong and I knew it and knew I’d have to change my behaviour if I was being observed, then I should just stop doing that in the first place! And if I am doing what I am supposed to but do more just to try to make good impression, I am not being true to who I am.

So it is with teaching. If I am doing something wrong, I trust my principal to let me know how I can improve. If my students do something wrong, I don’t ignore them and let them continue making those mistakes; I explain to them what the problem is and why I think they should change their behaviour. Of course, I also acknowledge that it is completely the decision of the students’ whether or not they take my advice. (That being said, I have a fantastic relationship with my entire class and am very glad that they tend to trust me to know what I am talking about!)

The lesson today was a continuation of our addition and subtraction mental math strategies, focusing on “number talks” to guide the students in articulating their mathematical thinking. It went really well and, even though we have just barely started doing these, I have seen growth in just the past couple of days! I am looking forward to seeing where my students take this from here!

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