Friday, October 10, 2008

Ready, Set, OBSERVE!

Hard to believe it's that time of year again! Beginning Monday I start a hectic, jam packed two month long schedule of pre-conferencing on Mondays, observing in hour long increments on Tuesdays through Thursdays and then post conferencing on Fridays. My schedule will certainly be a little crazy up until Winter Break but honestly, I am soooo excited! I love the 5 minute walk throughs of classrooms all during the year but these annual observations are where I really get to savor the masterful teaching that goes on in each lesson. I get to be part of the planning, watch the whole delivery (from opening to closing and everything in between), and then reflect on the lesson with my teachers. I really enjoy watching teachers craft and deliver instruction to students who are eager and excited about learning.

At this point in our journey I should see all of the components to the Workshop model and so I am really focusing on the Guided Reading and/or Strategy Groups that teachers are holding during the work period. I am also looking to see how technology is being used to deepen learning experiences for students. There are also so many things about the work that I don't get to see in an hour so I ask teachers to leave out the following things for me to review:
  • the lesson plan (we don't have a specific form for this - it is whatever the teacher needs to teach from - the plan has to work for them)

  • data/safety net notebook (this looks different in everybody's room but houses any diagnostic screening and/or FCAT data as well as some evidence of assistance being provided to at risk students - sometimes a copy of the PMP, etc...)

  • parent communication tool (newsletter, blog site, website, etc...)

  • 3 sample assessments (could be formative or summative work for one student or several)

  • grades (record of student progress)

  • a list of professional growth activities (in a school this size it is hard to keep track of all the things teachers are doing - this really helps)

  • an example of how instruction is being differentiated (this looks different based on teacher preference - sometimes it is a conference log, anecdotal notes, record of group work, etc...)

  • 3-5 student planners (i love being able to write to parents about what their kids are learning in class, it also helps me see if there is someway I could support the teacher with a student or parent)
I get so excited I fill up the official form with compliments, comments, ideas and suggestions. Half the time I am not sure I can read it when I'm done, so this year I am bringing my laptop with me and I am going to try and type my feedback. Hopefully the technology will make this easier on all of us.

So starting Monday, if you can't find me, I'm in a classroom. I'm watching the finest teachers in the world implement their craft at superior levels to the most wonderful students a principal could ask for. I can't wait!!!

Risk... Care... Dream... Expect...


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the list of what you want to see. It helps us know what to expect when you come in!
-Karen Morris

Anonymous said...

We are very excited to have you come and visit our classroom in December. We will have everything ready for you to see!

Laurie and Julia :)

Teach to Learn said...

I can't wait to show off my very bright and talented students, I am very blessed. By the way, I loved your book selection, Grace for President, for this month's Book of the Month.

Wanda Lankford & JJ Ossi said...

Get some rest this weekend another journey begins next week. Good Luck with observations! I am excited to showcase what I do with my students.

Wanda Lankford :)

Anonymous said...

This leaves me with two major thoughts.

One, I am glad that you are you, because I cannot imagine that there is another skipper anywhere that would voluntarily go through all of this each year in order to help out the crew. We really are lucky.

Two, I am so glad that I am NOT you. I would crack, and I am a pretty hard worker.

"Thanks" really does not cover it...