Horrible observation -- what now?!

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Bored of Ed, Dec 6, 2008.

  1. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    Everything went wrong the day of my student-teaching observation. I didn't do my greatest because I wasn't feeling well, but mostly it wasn't my fault. The kids were having a crazy day and the observer was irritated because she had a hard time finding my school.

    Still, I thought it was pretty clear that it was an exceptionally challenging situation and my performance wasn't altogether dismal. I could have found some positive points.

    My observer, however, did not have a single positive comment. Furthermore, she thought everything that went wrong was my fault. She did not give me any chance to explain anything (such as the fact that my lesson was supposed to build upon what they knew previously, which they suddenly and inexplicably forgot just then!)

    To put the cherry on top, she also said that she would not be coming back to observe me again because of the difficulty she had getting to my school. So my entire observation grade will be based on this.

    I am so depressed about this because I KNOW I'm really good. I know you have no reason to take my word for that, but really I have a pretty good rapport with the kids, my lessons are appropriate to the class, and prior to the observation I taught a number of lessons that went beautifully, and even the ones that didn't go as well were not nearly as bad as this. Yet my college has no way of knowing that because they haven't seen it.

    I'm so upset. It's already been a few days since this happened and I just can't get over it.

    I wish there was something I could do... but the observer is a pretty big fish and I'm just afraid that anything I say would just get me into more trouble than I'm already heading for.

    I feel so depressed. I don't know what to do...
     
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  3. teacherpippi

    teacherpippi Habitué

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    I'd type up a response/plan to each of the observer's points- and then I'd ask someone at your school to come in and observe specifically for those things.

    At this point, attempting to justify yourself might come across the wrong way. I think if you can show you have a plan (even when it isn't your fault that things went the way they did) and then have others come in to back you up on it, that might be a positive way to combat it.

    :hugs: So sorry that her attitude and preconceptions prevented her from really seeing YOU through all the other 'stuff.'
     
  4. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    I'm just afraid that if I ask for another observation, it could end up being a repeat of the same flukey fiasco and then I would look even worse :(

    But what do you mean by a plan? A plan for what?
     
  5. Sheba

    Sheba Companion

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    If the observer had nothing good whatsoever to say then she's probably a pretty poor observer. I've observed some pretty piss-poor demonstration lessons and have always found something good I could say. It's like getting a crappy mark on a paper because the computer broke down the week before it was due - just one of those things in life.
     
  6. Mrs. R.

    Mrs. R. Connoisseur

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    Bored,
    What does your university say about the number of times you are to be observed? I know that every student teacher I've worked with has had very strict guidelines from the university about the number of observations, and I had forms to sign that went along with the midterm and final grades. Your supervising teacher should not just get to decide not to come back. What did your cooperating teacher say about your lessons?
     
  7. teacherpippi

    teacherpippi Habitué

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    A plan to work on the areas your supervisor questioned. For example, since the kids had a hard time recalling the previous lesson, you might work on a few different ways to help them recall lessons and put that plan into place.
     
  8. trayums

    trayums Enthusiast

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    Great advice!!!!!!!!!!:D
     
  9. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    Mrs. R -- My university requires two observations. My observer said she would rate one of my other lesson plans in lieu of coming out to observe me again (btw, I do NOT work in the boondocks. I don't know what her issue is!) I have two problems with that:
    1. I have less requirements for the non-observed lessons, and I planned them accordingly. So it's very possible the one she chose won't measure up.
    2. The rubric obviously includes things that have to be observed! If I'd had a wonderful observation the first time, I could see her saying "Well, I see you know how to interact positively with the kids so I'll just rate you well for both" even though it's not entirely honest. But she doesn't even know how well my other lessons went, all she's seen is the horrible exception!

    My cooperating teacher did not disagree when I said it was my worst lesson ever. However, she did say that it was an exceptionally difficult day for the students and that she wasn't managing any better in the morning (and she is good!), and it happens to the best of us. She also said my lesson wasn't entirely disastrous and she could definitely find positive points.

    Teacherpippi -- In theory, that's a wonderful idea. The problem is, this was really beyond my control! I'm sure you've had days like that... The things I was counting on them remembering were basics of the unit that they'd been working with for the past week and doing fine. That day it went out the window. The observer should realize that this is what you get sometimes when you have a self-contained learning disabled class! Her biggest complaint was that I went off on a tangent and that caused the students to lose focus. Well, that is just wrong for two reasons:
    1. The students' focus was gone before I ever opened my mouth. As hard as I tried to get some, there was no focus to lose. I did, however, gain some more focus later on and in the end the students achieved all my objectives for the lesson, but the observer had already left by then and declined my offer to show her the students' work samples.
    2. I HAD to go off on that tangent because without straightening out what the kids were mixing up the rest of the lesson would have flopped even worse! It wasn't supposed to be a tangent. It was supposed to be a five-second review question to refresh their memory. They already knew it, which is why it wasn't on my objectives for the lesson, which is why she called it a "tangent."

    Overall, I think I demonstrated more understanding of the population I was working with than the supervisor did! :p
     
  10. Teaching Grace

    Teaching Grace Connoisseur

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    I would go to the dean. I've been in this situation. Big fish or not, she is required to do two observations and, too bad she had trouble the first time, but now she knows where your school is so it shouldn't be so hard to find it the second time ;)
     
  11. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    I agree with teaching-n-2. Your supervisor is required to do two observations, and she should not be able to make the decision that she doesn't want to come out and observe you a second time. That's totally unprofessional of her!
     
  12. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    I agree that you deserve another observation! It is not YOUR fault that the school is "hard to find" or out of her way or whatever. Didn't the school place you there? If she absolutely refuses to observe you again maybe your cooperating teacher can write up an observation so you can have SOMETHING positive on your record. I remember my student teaching days and I had my supervisor AND the head of the department come to observe. They made it a priority. I was grateful for that. I'm sorry you are having these difficulties!
     
  13. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    HA! Good point! This lady can't get lost twice!
     
  14. Green_eyed_gal

    Green_eyed_gal Comrade

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    I'm sorry, but that is just wrong that she is not going to observe you again. I would say something to the University. When I was student teaching I had three formal observations by my supervisor and my supervisor would drop in unannounced for informal observations. Not only that.. My cooperating teacher had to formally observe me three times.

    Your observer has to realize that teachers have bad days... Unfortunatly, you had a bad day on your observation. She should be coming back to observe you again. It's not fair that your grade will be based on one observation!! :mad: I would definitely say something.

    Good luck!!
     
  15. trayums

    trayums Enthusiast

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    The thing that is really irritating me here is the fact that your observer is forgetting what being in the classroom is like! She/he seems to be forgetting that every teacher has off days. Not every lesson goes well. UGH!
    If she is required to come see you TWICE, she needs to see you TWICE!I do not think it's fair that she is going to look at a lesson on paper in lieu of coming in. If the syllabus says TWICE... darn it... she needs to come twice. A lesson plan can look totally different on paper than in person.
    I am really feeling for you here!!!!!
     
  16. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    Thanks for validating my righteous indignation. I needed that. ;)

    I'm just afraid that if I insist on a second observation, it won't go well because she already doesn't like me and would probably resent the fact that I challenged what she wanted to do. I'm in a small program, this is the only person who does observations (unless maybe if she REALLY doesn't want to come back to my school because it's too far for her, then someone else could come...?)

    For now, I'm just waiting for the formal report to see how bad it is. All I've had now are the post-observation impressions, but I haven't been given a grade yet. Once I have it on paper, if it's really dismal then maybe I can try to challenge it. Who knows, maybe she will be more generous on the one she didn't observe... I just think it's safer to wait and see before going on the defensive.

    It's just easier said than done to shelve the worry and go on with the rest of my work... it's crunch time and I am already feeling burned out by this experience :(
     
  17. trayums

    trayums Enthusiast

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    Oh absolutely! Much easier said than done! I agree that waiting until you have seen the formal write up is a good idea. Sometimes they are much better than foreseen. Keep your chin up! Like I said... we all have off days, weeks, lessons... it's human nature!! :)
     
  18. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    I'd ask for a new observer. Get the information from the teacher in your class. Explain what your observer planned on doing and ask for a new observer to come observe you twice.
     
  19. NELNaples

    NELNaples Rookie

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    Bad Observation

    You know, my principal observed me the day before Christmas break. It wasn't a formal evaluation, I wasn't informed, the school had been very inconsistent with the groups they would pull from my class. The Vice and Principal, both, said I had no lesson plans. They never once walked to my desk to look at them their, I also had them in a clear plastic cover with magnets on the back for each week (I would tell the kids so if there was a sub unexpectedly they would know), I even emailed them to them.

    I was fired after the Christmas break after 2 months of having no administration in my room. I listened to there reports and fixed the things they had a problem with. My class scored higher on their tests than most of the county and they started at the lowest. The district couldn't even get the school district to give them a copy of the scores (I had a mole in the school). I think that was the politics.

    MY ADVICE - make sure you are in the teachers union. Simple as that. No one ever approached me, I looked online and didn't find anything and just didn't have enough time to join. Make sure you are a member. It is a lot of money but I have seen many teachers saved by them. Good teachers.
     
  20. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    NEL -- Oh. My. Gosh. That's terrible! I can't believe that happened to you! :hugs: :(

    Problem is, you can't join the union here until you have an actual job. This was just my student teaching, not a paying position.
     
  21. NELNaples

    NELNaples Rookie

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    Check into that because here you can join the NEA as a student teacher.
     
  22. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    My recommendation is that your cooperating teacher write a review of your lesson as well. Get a second point of view of a certified educator just to back you up--- I'm sure she'll say that yes there were some bad parts, but it'll give your school more insight on why it was difficult for you. If you use this observation in your portfolio (we were required to put our 4 reviews in ours and I went to school in Long Island), at least you'll have someone who can say "she didn't do amazingly well, but the situation she's in is also very difficult, especially for a new student teacher".

    And then do anything you can to personally improve--- and make sure the person who observed you gets her butt back into that classroom to see you again like SHE'S GETTING PAID FOR! If she refuses, go complain to your school---she's not doing her job and hence should not be paid.

    Also, what this person has to say shouldn't be the ONLY thing your school is going off of. Mine used my supervisor's input, but also my cooperating teacher's review and my own review, as well as, our meetings that happened every other week and developing a portfolio by the end of it. What else will you be graded on? There should be more than just what this one person has to say.
     
  23. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    Update: The observer called me on her own and said she has decided to give me another observation. Right now I'm relieved; but I don't know that that one will go any better because she said it has to be in a different class, and the other class I work with is much more immature and diverse. To make matters worse, she chose a date which is right after these kids will be getting a new teacher! In any case, I can't worry about that yet. Too much else on my mind for now. Sigh.

    NEL -- I spoke to the UFT representative in my school, and she said you sign up after you get a job.

    BioAngel -- Yes, there are other things that factor into my grade such as cooperating teacher observations, lesson plans, anecdotal records. But the formal observation is a real biggie because that's when the college people get to see you in action.
     
  24. CanukTeacher

    CanukTeacher Comrade

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    If they are about to get a new teacher I would ask the observer to come in before that. She obviously realises that she has to come back in (otherwise she wouldn't have contacted you). So do your best to make sure it is a fair observation. If she refuses I would contact the dean and explain your concerns.
     
  25. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    I would call or email the person who will be observing you BEFORE she actually does and let her know what the classroom situation is. Some classes really are just HORRIBLE and no matter what technique you try with them, they'll do everything they can to ruin your day or the lesson.
     
  26. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    She can't come back before the new teacher because she is booked with other observations until then. It's not a very long time until then.

    And in my last observation, the teacher explained the classroom situation to her beforehand and it didn't stop her from blaming all the mishaps on me. So I wouldn't bet on it next time either. I think I will just try to prepare the students beforehand and do a very "safe" (familiar, routine) lesson.

    Either way, I'm trying not to worry about it yet.
     
  27. trayums

    trayums Enthusiast

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    I think this is a really good thing. While the class will be getting a new teacher, it is very possible that they will feel most comfortable with you for a while. This could really work to your advantage.
     

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