In the past month I came across the #observeme trend. Just take a look at the movement on this hashtag on Twitter in the past couple months. Combined with my reading and thoughts on the necessary evolution of teacher evaluation, I became very interested in this movement.
After reading Robert Kaplinsky’s post about the topic, I decided that I would try it out. I only officially teach one class right now, so my opportunity to explore this idea is limited, but I wanted to give it a go.
I believe that a teacher we need to model continuous learning and this is one way that we can learn and grow as educators. As a coach, if I’d like to encourage others to do this, I feel like I should probably walk the walk, and not just ask others to take on this challenge.
For a little background knowledge, this course is a required, semester long course for 6th graders. It is an opportunity for them to develop in their understanding of how to use their laptop to enhance and extend their learning. I have 23 students this semester and this is their first year being in a 1 to 1 environment, as this program starts in Grade 6 in our school.
When deciding on these goals, I thought a lot about the state of my class currently. I was concerned that a few students were requiring more one on one attention and preventing me from being able to circulate evenly among the full class. I would like to move away from whole class instruction and develop ways to move towards a more student-centered approach. Lastly, I’d like to push my students thinking beyond the superficial level of just using the computer and see what other deeper thoughts and ideas can surface.
With all that said, I created my first #observeme sign.
As I don’t believe feedback given to teachers should just tell us ‘good job’ or pat us on the back, I developed a form for observers to complete while in the room. I want to be able to analyze and reflect on the feedback myself instead of someone else determining the quality of the job I am doing.
Here’s the feedback form I initially developed for my goals.
Since this was new to my school, I emailed a few teachers and administrators that I knew might be able to make the time to come observe. I posted my goal sign on the door of the classroom and used a gift bag to hold the observation forms and hung it on the door handle.
I posted the sign for the two periods I taught during one week and was able to get six different people to join me in my class.
Here are my takeaways:
- I need someone to help guide my reflection of the data I’ve collected. I mentioned Cognitive Coaching in previous posts, and this would be applicable here. I’m sort of staring at my data and struggling with my next step.
- I paid a lot more attention to the things that were my goals when someone was in the room. I wonder if this changes over time if observers become a regular part of your teaching.
- I was actually spending less time in one section of the room.
- I do a lot of individual instruction compared to whole group instruction. I’d like to move this more towards student self-directed learning.
- I’m still not sure if the feedback form I developed is how I want it. I suppose more thought and discussion is needed on this.
Moving forward, I think I’d like to narrow the focus to one or two goals for a few weeks at a time, but I need to find someone who could talk me through my thoughts post observations. Perhaps this could just be a colleague at my school who wants to work together on this…
Have you participated in the #observeme trend or have read about it? What do you think?