Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Teacher "Observation"

(Part of @teachthought 30-day Reflective Teaching Blogging Challenge) more info here.

I knew it was coming, my year to be formally "observed" by the principal. My official email arrived last week, with details, attachments, and even a set date/time.

As a 20-year teaching veteran, observations aren't something new, but can often bring up the same questions that new teachers face:
     *Does my plan make sense?
     *Am I doing everything correctly?
     *Will my lesson be executed the way I imagined?
     *Are the students going to learn what I intend for them to learn today?

Observations are the perfect path to teacher reflection. Considering how others are viewing your classroom and watching your interactions can be a way to self-assess areas that you might want to strengthen.

Part of our formal evaluative instrument reads as follows:
IOWA TEACHING STANDARD #5: Uses a variety of methods to monitor student learning.
The Teacher:
     a.   Aligns classroom assessment with instruction.
     b.   Communicates assessment criteria and standards to all students and parents.
     c.   Understands and uses the results of multiple assessments to guide planning and instruction.
     d.   Guides students in goal setting and assessing their own learning.
     e.   Provides substantive, timely, and constructive feedback to students and parents.
     f.   Works with other staff and building and district leadership in analysis of student progress.

I believe I do many of these well and have grown over the years to include more ways of monitoring learning through formative assessments, rubrics, and the use of data to guide instruction.

The area that I would like to continue to improve on is utilizing technology as a way to monitor student learning. I believe this would fit under both areas "a" and "c" highlighted from above. I plan to use Today's Meet, Socrative, and Kahoot as a few examples of ways to allow students to show and share what they know. These are quick ways to assess learning, although I will still continue to use a variety of other methods as well. This can help give me information on which students understand the content and which students need continued support in small groups. It's my goal to include one of these methods in my formal observations this year as well as share these methods with other teachers who may want to try them.

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