Bad Observation damage control?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by NMtoChicago, Dec 23, 2017.

  1. NMtoChicago

    NMtoChicago Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2015
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 23, 2017

    Hi!

    I am freaking out here and wondering if any of you can give me some advice on how to be proactive after a bad informal observation.

    Back story is this in a nutshell: I was hired as a special education teacher at a "prestigious" suburban school outside of Chicago, after working in the city for a few years, also as a special education teacher. Before that, I taught middle school English for 10 years in another state. First, let me say, I have never received anything other than proficient or excellent on evaluations in my whole career. Granted, the first 7 years of my career the principal basically never showed up for observations and if they did it was a basic checklist and you had to be horrific to do badly on it. I decided to move to Chicago to challenge myself as a teacher -- I knew that I would not be pushed to improve in an environment like that, and I was afraid I would eventually not push myself to improve either -- and I wanted to work in a new environment where I would not be "comfortable" anymore. Needless to say, I got the challenge I was looking for.

    So my first formal observation I got one "needs improvement" and the rest proficient and excellents. The needs improvement was for classroom management -- the reason given for that rating was that I asked a student to participate instead of giving him options of what he could do -- basically I gave him the opportunity to opt of working. I immediately corrected my approach to that student after the post-ob. Needless to say, I was really on edge after the observation because I felt that I would never be able to predict if I did something a little off and it would end up giving me a needs improvement again. To give a little context, the class was engaged and focused during the lesson, except this one student -- and my attempts to get him to participate where viewed as the wrong approach.

    Anyway, so my next formal was fine score wise, but I was a nervous wreck. I just felt like if I wasn't "perfect" -- and more importantly if they kids weren't perfect -- that it would result in bad scores. My first informal I received a needs improvement for assessment in instruction, because I wan't having the kids struggle on the text enough on their own - I was helping them too much. I did correct this in my second formal, which I received all proficients and excellents.

    By this point, I was just exhausted. All of four of the observations are done before Xmas break, so they can tell you if they will renew your contract in February. So two days before Xmas break, my evaluator comes in for the last informal (these are always unannounced of course). I was just suddenly frozen. Totally nervous and freaked out. I went ahead and did our lesson as I normally would though, somehow. But this one student, was just bonkers. I am not sure what was going on with him but he kept shouting out for my help, arguing with another student, and eventually took down the american flag. It was awful. I did redirect him every time -- "----, you need to stop shouting and refocus" or "------, you need to get back on task". I wanted to send him to the dean, but they had just spent a good portion of a department meeting basically telling us not to write referrals, so I wasn't sure what would be considered the "right way" to handle him. If she hadn't been in there I would have shut him down, but somehow her being in there made me totally unlike myself. Also, this is a tough class, but it's normally NOT LIKE THIS!!! I was totally thrown off.

    Anyway... I obviously haven't gotten the results of the observation, but I know it's going to be bad. Is there anything I can do to do damage control?

    Does it sound like I should get ready to be non-renewed? I know pretty much all the other new teachers have gotten some needs improvement, but this was bad. I am so mad at myself because I am just terrible at observations. I get freaked out and act like someone else.

    Any advice would be great!
     
  2.  
  3. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2016
    Messages:
    2,407
    Likes Received:
    1,180

    Dec 23, 2017

    ,
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
    Myrisophilist and Backroads like this.
  4. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2017
    Messages:
    1,469
    Likes Received:
    1,005

    Dec 23, 2017

    It sounds like your admin is using observations as a "gotcha" to be honest. I wouldn't mind if I weren't renewed there.
     
  5. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

    Joined:
    May 29, 2007
    Messages:
    3,060
    Likes Received:
    538

    Dec 23, 2017

    I had a bad observation once. (We aren't observed formally very often, so my observations have been few and far between). Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. As my principal was leaving my room, she asked me to see her in her office when I had a chance. Yikes! When I finally made it to her office, all she said was, "So, how did that go?" And I reflected on the lesson, what went well, what would I would do differently, why some things didn't go well, etc. At the end of my rambling/reflection, she said that it sounded like a blip, but I handled it well.

    Be reflective. Be honest and it will be fine.
     
    futuremathsprof likes this.
  6. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2016
    Messages:
    2,407
    Likes Received:
    1,180

    Dec 23, 2017

    ,
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
  7. a2z

    a2z Maven

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2010
    Messages:
    5,599
    Likes Received:
    1,485

    Dec 23, 2017

    I disagree. Doctors learn a lot about what patients say. Many times it goes beyond what can be seen from observation and examination.

    Self-assessment is key to growth. A teacher who sees everything as fantastic when it was an utter mess needs to be addressed differently than one who can pinpoint areas of struggle and also can help solve the problem which is ultimately what we need in the classroom - people who can recognize when something isn't going right and fix it on the spot before it goes too far awry.
     
  8. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2017
    Messages:
    1,469
    Likes Received:
    1,005

    Dec 23, 2017

    Yes and no. The question is not always "fun" to answer, but on the other hand, some people really are oblivious. I won't mention any names, but there was a poster who had several threads going last week who I think would benefit from that sort of reflection.
     
    MsAbeja and futuremathsprof like this.
  9. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2016
    Messages:
    2,407
    Likes Received:
    1,180

    Dec 23, 2017

    ,
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
  10. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2014
    Messages:
    1,007
    Likes Received:
    437

    Dec 25, 2017

    I think in an observation situation this question shows that the P (or whoever is evaluating) is aware that the lesson they saw may not be typical. Because they're not in the room all the time with the teacher, asking, "So how did that go?" opens the door for the teacher to show they're being reflective of their practice and explain that, "Dang, that lesson was a complete disaster and here's why."

    Alternatively, if a P observes a lesson that's a disaster (kids are wild and there are no consequences, they don't know what they're doing or supposed to be learning, teacher is unprepared or flustered) and the teacher says, "That was great," it could potentially be a warning sign that either the teacher isn't doing their job or the class is beyond the teacher's control.

    But I'd rather have the chance to explain that myself than have the P assume that I'm bad at my job.

    OP - None of your observations sound especially terrible from reading your post, though obviously tone gets lost in text on the internet and we don't know what your P is like outside of observations. It sounds like you get really flustered having someone watch you (and understandably, after getting some corrective feedback), which can also make things seem much worse.
    What kind of support have you received/asked for outside of your observations? If your admin is supportive and involved beyond just evaluations, that can make a huge difference with how unnerving it is to have them in the room. I know a lot of teachers at my school feel annoyed at having the AP come in, but I never had that feeling because I actively sought her advice and help on behavior issues last year and she was incredibly helpful in resolving them. Actively seeking help in areas of need could make the observation visits less disruptive for you.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2017
    MissScrimmage likes this.
  11. NMtoChicago

    NMtoChicago Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2015
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0

    Dec 27, 2017

    When you say none of my observations sound terrible (other than the last one)... I agree!! That's what threw me off. I felt like if I didn't get everything just right I would end up with "bad scores" -- which to me is anything other than excellents and proficients. Maybe at this school, it's not a big deal to get some "needs improvement" but I honestly don't want those scores, so I get so focused on trying to make things "perfect" I think I lose myself as a teacher and it backfires like it did with that observation. The other part is, we are given a mentor as first year teachers at the school, since it's so big and with so many moving parts, you need someone to help you to basically get things done. When I told her about my needs improvements on my first evaluation she was shocked.... like it was a rarity for anyone to get scores other than proficient, which sent my fears into overdrive. BUT since then, ALL the new teachers in my department (we all talk to each other), and some veteran teachers have gotten needs improvement and even unsatisfactory. So I don't know if this a new thing or what.

    Anyway, to answer your question about the support I am getting, I would say it's between neutral and supportive. She spends most of the post ob talking about what can be improved. Even the parts you got a good score on. Really no positive feedback, other than saying she feels I have a lot to offer students, and there's reason they hired me. But 90% is what can be improved. But it isn't given in a negative manner, just matter of fact. And the advice is good, and I do implement it right away.

    I mean, the overall feeling I get from this place is they kind of expect a lot from their teachers. And I totally okay with that, I even welcome it. But I can't be perfect, and I can't "make" the students act perfect and when I am in that mindset the lesson just falls flat. There is definitely ZERO allowance for student misbehavior. And we work with ED kids. So it's super stressful.

    Do you think I should ask for a "redo"? Or at least offer for her to stop in again? I really feel like that was a one off thing in that class. It is not normally like that. Any thoughts on how I should try and change my mindset? I am so distracted about getting non-renewed I have lost my sense of myself as a teacher on a certain level....

    Thank you!
     
  12. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2009
    Messages:
    2,833
    Likes Received:
    310

    Dec 28, 2017

    Are you able to just do the math on the rubric? I'm in Chicago, but we have a very clear points system that, minus test scores, can be calculated for al overall score. That score should tell you if you fall into the developing range, proficient range, etc.

    Unless you were getting all unsatisfactory ratings all the time, I suspect you'll be fine. I've seen people be renewed with a heavy mix of unsatisfactory and developing (bottom 2) category ratings. Reality is...you teach Special Ed. Nobody wants that job. If they really want to go through the whole process of finding yet another person for that position in order to fire you, then you probably don't want to work there anyway.
     
  13. Mshope2012

    Mshope2012 Companion

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2016
    Messages:
    142
    Likes Received:
    51

    Jan 2, 2018

    I think they are always looking for one area for "growth." I have only had one observation where the observer said, "That was perfect!" Usually, our admin. tend to nitpick on really dumb things. Like once I got proficient because the "students didn't help create the assessment." Are you kidding me? Plus, it was a set curriculum. So I think they will practically make up a reason for a "needs improvement." Just act extremely eager to remedy that so you are showing growth. Also, when observed, I always put on a good show with all that want. I also tell the kids that they will get candy if it goes well. That usually worked like a charm.
     
  14. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

    Joined:
    May 29, 2007
    Messages:
    3,060
    Likes Received:
    538

    Jan 2, 2018

    No, I don't think you should ask for a re-do. The reality of teaching is that sometimes lessons don't go as planned. It's okay for your principal to see that. If you have the chance to meet about your observations, be reflective and talk about what happened that day. One of the great things about my principal observing a lesson that didn't go as planned is that she got to see me adapt and adjust my teaching to bring my students back to the purpose of the lesson. She noticed how I changed what I was doing to meet the needs and she applauded my ability to think on my feet and try something different when Plan A wasn't working.

    You are going to be fine.
     
    Mshope2012 and MrsC like this.
  15. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Messages:
    4,161
    Likes Received:
    840

    Jan 2, 2018

    Evaluations should not address how the students behave only how you handle the situation. I think if the rest of the lesson went fine then they shouldn't penalize you for that student.
     
    Linguist92021 likes this.
  16. NMtoChicago

    NMtoChicago Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2015
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0

    Feb 1, 2018

    Thank you all for your replies...


    I am finally getting my post-ob on that lesson this Friday. I will let you know how it goes....
     
  17. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2017
    Messages:
    1,469
    Likes Received:
    1,005

    Feb 1, 2018

    Good luck! I don't know the protocol in your district, but in my district if they wait more than 2 weeks to provide feedback, we can dispute it and request a new observation.
     
  18. NMtoChicago

    NMtoChicago Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2015
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0

    Mar 28, 2018

    Ok.... I finally have some follow up on how I did on this observation.

    I ended up doing ok actually. She gave me a "proficient" for managing student behaviors because I redirected the student that took down the American Flag. I was absolutely shocked that she gave me that score, when she gave me "needs improvement" for asking a student to participate in one of my earlier evaluations.

    I got proficients on everything else for this observation, except "assessing students" and questioning techniques. I guess I was not providing opportunities for students to assess themselves, and I wasn't asking probing or higher level questions in a higher ratio than simple recall questions. So I got two "needs improvement" ratings.

    I also got my summative rating, which was overall proficient. I am being renewed for next year, but was put on an improvement plan to work on my questioning techniques and assessing students. I have to get all proficients in those categories or I will not be renewed for the following year. So the pressure is on... I have been meeting with the instructional coach daily, having her observe me and give me feedback, reading literature on assessment and questioning. It's spring break and I am spending most of my time working on my final unit. I still feel it won't be enough come next year.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2018
  19. TeacherNirvana

    TeacherNirvana Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2018
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    9

    Apr 7, 2018

    An administrator can hardly get a clear picture from one observation in your classroom. There's always more to the story than what's going on in that moment.

    First of all, let's get rid of that notion of "the perfect teacher". There's no such thing. Yes, there are master teachers- some who excel at their craft. Yet, that's just it- they are consistently growing in their craft. They are researching and applying what they've learned. I can almost guarantee that they did not start out performing at that level.

    Secondly, one student doesn't make a classroom management issue. What about the rest of them? If you had no negative comments about them during the observation, you're doing great. It would be different if this occurred with several. But one? That's great in my opinion, and I'm a former administrator that went back into the classroom because I missed actually being able to teach.

    My advice to you is learn to accept that some administrator's are hard to please no matter what. They will nitpick every little thing. Yes, learn from their comments. Make changes as necessary (necessary being the key word), and continue to grow as a teacher. That's what observations are really about. At the end of it all, remember that you are new to the profession. It takes time to build your skillset. Have patience and teach on.
     
    Myrisophilist likes this.
  20. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2001
    Messages:
    24,929
    Likes Received:
    2,065

    Apr 7, 2018

    Those kind if questions are looking for self reflection. Highly doubtful the behaviors are a one of...And the OP should have a paperwork trail of starategies used/ modifications/ interventions
     
  21. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Messages:
    4,724
    Likes Received:
    951

    Apr 8, 2018

    I think these observations and how they're assessed can be so subjective. For example in my first year, the fall observation had a needs improvement, but my P explained that it is expected for a first year teacher in alternative ed, not to worry, and they're looking for growth. So I wasn't worried. In the spring I got all excellent or proficient. Did I become excellent or proficient in all areas, including classroom management? No, but they wanted to keep me, so they played it like that. If you think about it, it would have looked really strange if I was all excellent and proficient in my 1st semester.

    In your situation I think they scored you really low on the first observation (unfairly) because they wanted to leave the door open to renew you or not. Now they made a decision to renew you, so they scored you higher. If they didn't want to, they probably would have used that incident against you.
    This all sounds very unfair, but that's just how it is.
     
    futuremathsprof likes this.

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. bella84,
  2. nstructor,
  3. Ms.Holyoke
Total: 386 (members: 7, guests: 355, robots: 24)
test