Teacher observations are always nerve-wracking, especially if it's your first observation and you don't have a clue what to expect. To help ease the jitters, seasoned teachers and administrators have shared their experience and insights.
What was your first teacher observation like, and what advice do you have for new teachers that will be facing their first teacher observation?
Teach as if the administrator is not in the room. Circulate throughout the room giving attention to all students! Stay on topic and periodically check for student understanding!!
- Jessica, Williamsville, New York
I am an administrator at an elementary school... and do the evaluations... First observation (and the first year or two) I look for management, structures, routines and relationships/connections the teacher has with students and the expectations the teacher has for how students interact with each other. Students thrive in safe environments built on trust and mutual respect. All of these have to be in place for good instruction to take place!
- Kate, Denver, Colorado
Read the book "The First Day of School" by Harry Wong. As a first year teacher, it is all about managing a classroom. If you can manage your classroom and provide structure for the students, the rest will usually fall into place. You need to provide an environment conducive to learning. If the environment is positive and structured, you can build the relationships you need to be successful. The other things would be to familiarize yourself with your district's APPR process and the framework they use for the process (Danielson, Marzano, etc...). Really, the most intimidating part of the APPR is the paperwork. And don't be afraid to talk to your admin. They are going through the process too!!
- Michelle, Poughkeepsie, New York
A first time teacher being observed is a very intimidating situation. Talk to seasoned educators in your building and get their input on what your administrator looks for. Do your research! Every district is different. But I think the staple for every one is state standards, classroom management, structure, and a safe environment to learn. Make sure your lesson plan for the observation is directly related to the state standards and have them posted in your room visible for the students, you, and the administrator to see. This is very big in my district. Also letting the kids be familiar with the standards and knowing what they are learning and why. The other big thing they look at is your classroom management. Have a behavior chart to reinforce positive behavior and have consequences for inappropriate behavior. You need to have total control of your classroom at all times. Most importantly, take a deep breath and tell yourself you can do it!!
- Marcy, Grand Island, New York
I would say to be confident and be yourself. The administrator is going to know you are nervous, but just teach like you would any other day. Teaching is what got you there. Keep control over the kids and don't let any activities get out of hand. Most importantly, believe in yourself and your abilities!
- Lindsay, Buffalo, New York
My first would have been 36 years ago, so I don't really remember it. Usually if I know it is coming, and if the principal does not come into the room too often, i usually just tell the kids that he is coming to observe me, not them, and suggest that they just continue to behave as they normally do. As for myself, I never plan a special lesson. I want the principal to see me as I normally teach so that it is possible for him/her to offer constructive criticism and help me improve. In practice, I have found that my students always behave better when the principal is in the room and that I rarely get any constructive criticism.
- Ron, Duncan, Arizona
For all new teachers....focus your energy on classroom management...whatever it takes. If you have a classroom that runs smoothly and the children know what you expect, everything else will fall into place..I promise! You can write the best lesson plans, have fun activities, and bring in the best props...but if you can't control the environment, nothing else matters. To this day (after 16 years) I still pride myself on my classroom management. It's the foundation for success. Yes, it may take an enormous amount of effort and work at the beginning , and calls for a lot of time, but it will pay off in the end!
- Janet, Grand Island, New York