Sunday, December 12, 2021

Imagine the Impact:Productive, Positive, Post-Observation Meetings

My first year teaching in a NYC public school I sat down with what would now be considered a "student advisor" for my post-observation session. He asked me how I felt the lesson went. I told him I thought it went pretty well.

He replied snarkily, "You must think very highly of yourself."

Well actually, yeah, I did. I was 24 and confident as hell, I still am.I knew I had room for improvement, but I also knew my lesson went pretty well.

Was his comment helpful? Not at all.

I recently sat down for my post-observation with my current admin. How refreshing! It's not often that you get to sit down and have a productive, positive, discussion about what is observed in the allotted 45 minutes.

I was taken aback when my admin said, "Ok, let's look at this first standard. What would you give yourself?" 

I am usually very confident about my lessons and how they are perceived. However, after years of being observed, and fighting to get the score I believe I deserved, I guess my level of confidence has been slightly diminished.

After years of feeling like every observation was going to be turned into a "gotcha", which would then turn into me writing rebuttals, and evidence to support said rebuttal, I didn't know how to respond.

I always say I don't care about those numbers. 4 or a 3, who cares? As long as I am not given a 2 or a 1,it doesn't matter.  But when I know I am good, and I deserve a 4, whether I admit it or not, I want my 4.

So when I was asked, I felt I deserved a 4 for the standard. But instead of saying that, I stuttered, flustered, and floundered for words. But she pushed. 

"Tell me what you think you deserve, and tell me why." 

And I did. I told her I deserve a 4 because... And when I was done, she agreed. Not only did she agree, but she pointed out things that happened during my lesson that I didn't even realize I did to meet the criteria for a 4.

And we continued... It was such a positive encounter.

Understand, when I teach, or when I am being observed, those numbers are not in my head at all. I just do what I do. Engage my learners to the best of my ability, in any and every way I can, Make sure they are learning in a safe, warm, environment. 

But when I sit down for a post-observation meeting, I want it to be a discussion about what is happening in my classroom, where I can grow, and of course what positive things are happening. I hate those numbers that are applied to my teaching, but as of right now, it is what it is.

Oh, back to that "student advisor." circa 1984. After he made those comments,I heard nothing he said, so that post observation was useless. I was angry. I went back to my classroom and ranted to my colleague. Then I typed up a letter to my principal about what was said to me, and how I felt about it. I can't remember if we had a meeting, but the end result was that he was told he would never observe me again.

It's been so long since I had a productive post-observation meeting, I forgot what they can look and sound like. If only, they could all be this way. Imagine the impact. 

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