As we get closer and closer to the end of the school year, teachers often find themselves in one of the most stressful situations that they will face--the dreaded administrator observation. Why is it that you can somehow teach a class full of 20 or 30 crazy kids every day without breaking a sweat, but as soon as one adult walks in the room it's anxiety city? Well, I am here to help. Here are my 7 tips for handling a classroom observation:
1) Tell your classes ahead of time to behave well. In one of my early years as a teacher, I once told a class to act like they usually did during observation time so the evaluator could see how I handled their bad behavior during a normal day (before I became the discipline virtuoso that I am now). Oops. They did as I asked and I guess I didn't handle it too well. It was the worst observation I had in my entire career! It's a good thing I wised up and asked for good behavior during the rest of my observations that year.
2) Pretend like the observer is just another member of the class. This will help you avoid the feeling of intimidation that you may get when your bosses are watching you. Include them in the lesson. Call on them. Comment to them. Let them (and yourself) know that you aren't scared.
3) Be prepared every day. If your school gives unannounced observations, it is a good idea to be prepared for one at any given moment. Prepare every day as if you will be watched and you will save yourself a lot of trouble when the time actually does come.
4) Focus on the lesson and helping your students. If you are thinking about the lesson and how you can help your students, you won't have room to think about being nervous.
5) Have an "oh well" attitude. Not caring about what others think about you can be very empowering. Easier said than done, right? If you do your best, then what do you really have to worry about? You are either going to be good enough or you aren't. Life will go on either way.
6) Realize that it is part of the job. If you want to teach for any length of time at all, you are going to have to deal with observations. So toughen up and get over it.
7) Remember why you teach. Remember that you got into the profession to help kids. At least I hope you did. If one of the main reasons you became a teacher was to impress adults with how good you are, you may be in the wrong career anyway. So focus on doing what you can do to serve your students, hopefully just like every other day.
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