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observation nightmares


From: Mark Alexander (malexander06_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sat Mar 02 2002 - 07:42:41 PST

I've been enjoying the 'observation blues' posts. Thanks everyone, for
sharing. I have to underscore the sentiment of most: We ALL have had similar
experiences. Thinking on your feet is not something we learn in teacher
school. We have to learn that in the classroom. Everyone knows that things
happen, and these things help us learn.

In my first year I had a BEST assessment go sour. In my small town school
(100 k-8 students), the 3rd grade students were unaccustomed to strangers,
and they over reacted to the assessor's presence. One boy decided it would
be best to go help another fill and take water cups to the tables. The boy
who was assigned the task knew we only half filled the quart sized cups, and
we only carried two water cups at a time. The over-exuberant self assigned
helper filled them to the top, then tried to carry three of them (more is
better, right?) to the tables. Needless to say, before I even realized what
he was doing, he dropped them and the three quarts of water rushed across
the floor towards the assessor. She lifted her shiny pumps off the floor as
the flood waters rose around her, and wearing a stony face, she continued
furiously writing notes. I knew then I was sunk. However, it turned out I
got a great score. My mentor joked that the only reason I got a good score
was because I didn't choke that helpful kid.

Another time I got a surprise observation from a new principal. I had given
no thought to a lesson for a class that was scheduled to be on a field trip.
Just two minutes after I discovered the class at the door because the
weather turned bad and they didn't go on their trip, the brand new principal
walked in for a surprise observation. Not having a plan, I selected three
reproductions at random, and began a compare and contrast discussion. Then
we started an elements and principles lesson based on what we discovered the
art references had in common. Fooled the new principal, but I was sweating
bullets, sure that if the new principal discovered I was unprepared it would
look bad for me. Later I learned it might have been even better had she had
known that I was making it up as she watched, but at the time I never did
tell her.

So you see, we've all been there. Hang on, and try to just go with the
flow. Take the lessons life offers, keep a positive attitude, and remember
you are not alone.