Observation week is always stressful for me. The days leading up to an observation always seem to have the most things that go wrong, or include so much homework from my classes that planning my lesson is impossible. This week consisted of two formal, back to back observations (one from my CT and one from my supervisor). Interestingly, this happed for my first round as well.
My lesson with my CT was a reading lesson which was to include an audio file that would be played to my students in an effort to enhance their listening skills, and we would also be working on our abilities of organizing information. But, have you ever planned a lesson based on a text you didn’t have access to? That was what I had to do this week. Both the resource teacher and the district reading coach, as well as the three ELA teachers on my team could not locate the audio file we were going to need by the time I left my placement the day prior to my observation. Obviously, planning was close to impossible; but thankfully by the time I arrived the next morning we had access!
I spent an hour of my morning planning my lesson. Not the most ideal amount of time, but all things considered, my lesson went well. The lesson took a lot longer than I anticipated, but I consider it time well spent because my students understood the content. I mentioned that this was an audio file – meant to be read by a computer. Well, a series of unfortunate events occurred that morning which led me to have to read the manuscript aloud to my students. One of the main purposes of listening to the audio file is to practice listening to a read text because this will be a component on the FSA, which is two weeks away! I haven’t had my post-conference yet, but I heard through the grapevine (our neighboring teacher) that my CT said I did well.
I like that I had the opportunity to read the text aloud because the next day when we listened to it from the computer, I noticed the computer read “live” in the context of being a place where someone resides, as opposed to a company “going live,” or viral, or starting up in a new location. Little opportunities like that allow me chances to help stress the importance of listening closely, working on comprehension skills, and using context clues to help determine meanings, which are all areas my students struggle with.
The following day was a Writing observation on editorials. Because I did not have to rely on recommended or required materials, I had the opportunity to choose editorials that I felt would work best for my students. I believe the overall lesson went well. There were no extreme behavioral problems, participation was high, and my students understood the purpose of the lesson. The biggest thing I would have done differently was model the group activity I had my students complete before assigning it to them. I ended up having to stop their work after a few minutes and explain that all components of the activity needed to flow together and make sense.
One good thing about being in a departmentalized classroom is that you have the opportunity to reteach the same lesson and become more efficient with each class. The second time I did this lesson (not formally observed), I provided an example before the group activity. This allowed the students to immediately know expectations for their task. Additionally, one of the groups’ members made one student cry because they were not listening to him. I removed him from the group and had him sit with my CT where she allowed him to do the group activity on his own (this was a good idea I had not thought of). Tis situation gave me the opportunity to have a quick mini-lesson on treating others fairly and our expectations for group work.
Formal observations are often tense. However, they never fail to make me double check my plans and heavily consider if my students are learning what they need to be learning, in a way that’s most effective. Reflection is always my favorite part because I find more positive things in my abilities that I hadn’t noticed before.