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Keep It Simple

This is a little bit of a hectic week for me.

Oh, who am I kidding.  December and January are going to be hellacious.  What with my reading endorsement class, weekly Fred Jones classes, lesson planning, and life in general, things are nuts around here!

Oh, and I almost forgot one other important thing…my first observation of the school year.

As a still-somewhat-new teacher in the district (i.e. one with fewer than four years’ experience), I have the blessing (cough, cough) of being observed twice each year.

I know the purpose is to give new teachers a chance to learn from the first observation so that the second, and more weighty, one that happens in March will go smoothly.

Still, it’s very nerve-wracking to have someone watching YOU do your thing.

I have no problem sounding dumb and making a fool of myself in front of teenagers.

As an adult, I do this simply by breathing.

However, to do so in front of someone who is your boss…whose opinion you value greatly…well, that’s a scary thing indeed!

Fortunately, I work for a very kind principal.  He’s extremely smart, and his feedback is spot-on.  He does his best to remain unobtrusive during observations, and I usually forget he’s there once I get into my lesson.

I adore my students and can’t help but get caught up in the fun that we sometimes (cough, cough) have…

Especially with the crew that will be the “observation class.”

Ok…so I’m getting away from the main point of this post.


I’m teaching main idea to my students right now, and just this morning, I told them that when they read, they need to ask themselves, “What’s the point…” much as they want to ask me the same thing (and sometimes do).  heehee

To prepare for my observation, I’ve gone back and forth with several activities in mind.

I taught main idea during my observation last year, and honestly, I did not do a very good job.

I was new, uncertain about what to do, and scared to death.

Plus, main idea is a very difficult thing to teach.

I’ve been to quite a few trainings since last year…CRISS, Kagan, Smart Board…so I have a wealth of tools at my disposal (not that I’m an expert at using them all, mind you).

Narrowing down my activity to one thing was hard…not to mention not knowing, exactly, where we would be in my teaching of main idea.

And thus what became my quandary…which strategy or strategies to use.

I am an overachiever, and I like to throw everything but the kitchen sink into my lessons.

It can be overwhelming for my students, though.

Today, I had visions of myself years ago when I was teaching Pioneer Clubs at my then-church home.

I had no idea that you could choose WHICH badges to have your class members earn.

I thought that the list was what you HAD to teach them.

Let’s just say that I pushed my kids…hard…and they earned the most badges of anyone there.


I only taught one year.


Today, feeling uncertain, I queried my friend, Barb, who’s been teaching since there were dinosaurs (shhh…don’t tell her I said that).

As I explained what I wanted to do, I saw her eyes go wide.

That’s when I knew.

I was making things too complicated.

Her pointed questions made me realize that in my attempt to be this AMAZING teacher who would bedazzle my principal with my uber-fantastic teaching skills (yes, I am delusional), I was setting myself and my students up for failure.

Not that she said that.

I read between the lines, using my inference skills (I’ll be ready to hit that unit next!!).

So I scaled back a bit…sticking to what my gut had originally told me to do.

Gotta trust this teacher gut of mine.

I’ve gotta remember to keep things simple.

I’ve got a pre-planning observation conference tomorrow morning and will scurry around trying to put the finishing touches (i.e. find text passages, copy them, and insert them into my Kagan software) tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I’ll try to get a good night’s sleep so I’m ready to face my day head-on.

5 Responses

  1. Dinosaurs? Sheesh! You may never get another book…… 😉

  2. I’ll never forget when a new principal entered my middle school drama class unexpectedly and sat down to observe. Oh my!! Herding cats was an understatement for this fun loving group and while I knew we were on task, it didn’t necessarily look like that to others. : ) But two of my boys saw him come in, gave a subtle but clear to the kids high sign and calm descended. Those two became my favorites that day! I”m sure your amazing teacher gut will get you simply on track for a fantastic observation.

  3. Evaluation visits in my school(s) were always a surprise – no pre-evaluation conference or planning – the principal just slipped in and sat in the corner. Sometimes, he stayed for the whole class; others, a short span of time. I never knew from one day to the next whether he would be coming in to the classroom. The staff liked it that way because he saw the “real” educational process and didn’t see any dog & pony shows.

  4. I remember being observed by my supervisors when I worked in the schools as a speech pathologist…very unnerving, to say the least. However, I learned to be confident in myself and in my abilities…everything will fall into place!

  5. My advice: they don’t want to see a “dog & pony show”. They want to see what you do every day in your classroom, crazy shenanigans and all.
    I just had my first observation of the year last Tues., 1 more next semester…and that’s for the competent teachers in Tn! The new ones get observed 4 times.
    Relax, and do what you do! 🙂

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