I Am Not Scared

I am going on a PD hunt, I am not scared. I can't avoid it, I am going to go through it. #Observeme.

I read Jennifer Gonzalez' 2013 article, " A Mild Case of Fisheye," over on her blog, The Cult of Pedagogy. It rang true for me so I shot a letter out to my assistant principal, told her I just read this article and that I was ready for some help with my College Readiness Class. I told her I was going to have a chat with a particular group of tuned out students, that were having an impact on the classroom culture and would she please come by and observe.

My AP stayed for about one hour (we have 95 minute blocks). We set up an appointment, and she came to my room during lunch two days later. I was agitated that I was doing something wrong, that surely in my 30th year I should be the beloved teacher and provide students with the best education has to offer and what if I was losing my effectiveness? Well, I do mentor beginning teachers, I am still here, I love education, students, teachers, curriculum, professional development, learning, and teaching, so I must do somethings wells. And I do have both passion and compassion. So what is up?

I learned that I had a group that was feeding each other in the worst way. Three of the four were saying things to each other like, "I am so dumb," " I need help," and "I am so lost." The fourth was the only one who had her binder, had her homework,  and was actually getting frustrate with the others at her table. My AP wrote her saying in exasperation, "You ALREADY have your slope!" In a group of seniors, I don't make seating charts. I thought this group were working together, but really they were sitting next to a person who was confident and were feigning ignorance to get someone else to do the brunt of their work. I learned something I need to pay attention to more carefully. Gasp, I may even need to make a purposeful, "random" seating chart to spread out the "lost" students among their more capable (organized? dedicated? invested?) peers.

The other nugget that was most enlightening, was how I give feedback. At a much more productive table group,  one girl was recorded as saying, "She said you were fine." Although my affect is positive and encouraging, it requires "interpreting." I need to be more direct and ask what it is the student is needing feedback on. I don't like just saying, "yes you are right." I prefer to ask a question that leads the student to his or her own conclusion,  but maybe if I am judicious, a "you are on the right track," would make the students feel less anxious and continue independently.

I got to the #ObserveMe part backwards on this occasion and actually looked at the folder last. I was so pleased to know that my questions for observers DID reflect my concerns and even though the AP used her own response form (purpose: email invitation). I got the feedback I was seeking:

Welcome! Please come inside and observe me for 5 minutes or 90. I would love feedback on:

      Students are talking about math.
     Teacher gives useful feedback.
     Teacher fairly calls on all students.

I am going on a PD hunt, I am not scared. I can't avoid it, I am going to go through it. #Observeme.

It takes a village to raise a teacher.

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  1. I always appreciate your honesty and transparency, Amy! And what a powerful message to send to your students; that you are wanting to grow, get feedback, and do better. Reading your post makes me miss the classroom and our time working together. The way we give feedback to students is such an important thing to think about. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you for stopping by Jessica. It is scary to admit that you can do better. I get focused in learning and trying in one direction and need to widen my vision at those times.

      I keep coming back until I get it right!


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