My budding love of teaching, stemming from my larger love of math and learning

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Encouraging Words

Although I am technically a long term sub, my principal is treating me as a first year teacher, which I look at as promising for next year (YAY!). So about a month ago, I had my first observation of the school year. Leading up to the observation I was pretty nervous. I had been questioning my ability to do my job, my wanting to do my job and the idea that others thought I could do my job. (See previous post) I had my pre-observation with my principal, she assured me that the feedback that I would receive was not meant to be critical, and I assured her that I understood that and I was actually looking forward to her being in my classroom, because I wanted the corrective criticism.

I did not plan and elaborate lesson plan. I am a true believe that you should be observed on what's happening in your classroom everyday, not something exciting that might happen every once in a while. The night prior to the observation, I went through my example problems several times trying to anticipate questions from students. The group of students that would be in my classroom during the observation has several higher level thinkers in the classroom; a few that questions EVERYTHING. Which is not a bad thing, but the the questions sometimes catch me off guard. So I just wanted to make sure that I was ready.

And ready I was. I felt great during the class, I felt great after the class, but still really nervous about what she would have to say. Then I got the observation form from her through email. It was good, I mean I think it is good at the time. Here were my strengths from my principal (black) and my thoughts (red):
  • Knowledge of subject matter (This I knew...I'm an engineer, so I know the material, I think I need to do a better job of funneling the information to a level that is easier for the kids.
  • High expectations for student behavior, respect between teacher and students is apparent (I needed to hear this. I had been struggling with the idea that the students respected me, or were they just respecting me that day because the principal was sitting in my room?)
  • Preparation for successful classes (I work really hard making easy to understand ppts, making handouts for the students with the figures for the lesson, and making sure I know the problem by heart so that I don't look unprepared by looking at my notes, so this was great to be recognized on it)
  • Curriculum mapping use and completion (um, ok...I guess this means that I stated the targets before the lesson, but I wish I did a better job of questioning the students about the targets at the end of class)
  • Use of technology-overhead prepared materials (I use a ppt everyday. It makes it easier on me so that I don't have to draw the figures every example problem)
  • Willingness to assist students outside of class (I do offer my time to the students, but not many take me up on it. I also will not force students to come in. Choices, choices, choices, maybe that stems from me starting my teaching career at a "school of choice")
  • Confidence in presentation and responding to student questions (I made myself be confident that day...I repeated the line from 'Cool Runnings' in my head, "Well, let me tell you what I see. I see pride! I see power! I see a bad-ass mother who don't take no crap off of nobody")
Areas for Growth or Concern:
  • Generalized questioning, towards more specified questioning -- Hold greater accountability for student learning (This is something that I struggle with every time I write a lesson. I want to ask better questions, lead them down more detailed paths, but right now I am so concentrated on funneling the content. I feel like this is something that gets better the 2 or 3 or even 4th year that you teach the content. I am so hoping that I am able to have that opportunity)
  • Don't be so hard on yourself! You'll burn out of this profession if this is always an emotional high. Hang in there and keep relying on your mentors and administrators (I have started to say "NO", more to myself than anyone else. I need to find a balance, and right now there is no balance)
So all in all, I felt pretty good about what my principal wrote in the form. I was having more confidence in my teaching ability and just my overall wanting to be here.

Then the post-observation conference came...and things got even BETTER!!!!!!!!!!! My principal told me that she was very impressed by my teaching, that I am a great teacher. Do I have room for improvement, yah, everyone does. She acknowledge the difficulties I was having with some of the students do not go unshared. She also acknowledge my frustrations on other topics as well. She assured me that she felt confidence in her decision to bring me on board. And truthful...I do work with great people (mostly).

I needed this boost of confidence. I know that I am making a difference in some students education. The students that I am not reaching, may be in that group that no one can reach. I do laugh with some kids, I have had kids tell me that they actually understand it now (more my Pre-Algebra kids), and I know that some do like me (one in particular always brings me artsy things to hangup). I guess I do like my job, and I know more now that I am doing a good job.

So I am off on Thanksgiving Break in 40minutes. I am walking out this door for 10 WHOLE DAYS!!!!! I am off to New England for some family and friends. I wish I could say that no work will be done over this time, but alas I have grading and lesson planning that I need to do. But at least I am not walking down these hallways. Adios!

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