Principal's Observation

Discussion in 'High School' started by MtotheC, Mar 3, 2008.

  1. MtotheC

    MtotheC Rookie

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    Mar 3, 2008

    So, I had my first observation a week or so ago. My principal said that I needed to ask questions to specific students instead of asking and letting the whole class answer. Doesn't that seem a little like a personal preference? He also said that he wanted to observe me either today or tomorrow when I'm "teaching a lesson." Apparently, having students finish a worksheet from the previous day in groups and then modeling and having them do a compare/contrast triangle for the 3 versions of the Arthurian legend that we read isn't "teaching a lesson." Am I wrong for being a little miffed about this? Especially when he was mostly a sports coach before being politically (mis)placed in his current position?? I mean... you should hear his grammar!

    He also came into my 4th period (Intensive Reading) unannounced on Friday and witnessed me nearly having a break down. My kids were uncontrollable on Friday! It started late Thursday afternoon and got worse on Friday. I had to run crying into my dept. head's room across the hall as soon as the kids were gone. There were the few bad apples that were infecting the rest of the class and I just didn't have the strength to fight the behavior. I've been so sick with a stupid cold that I'm barely sleeping and just couldn't handle them. I love teaching. Don't get me wrong. I feel like this is the passion that God put in my heart, but am I any good at it? I just wonder whether or not I'm cut out for it. I've already caught vulgar things (Ms. Mc) sucks Donkey D**ks) written about me on a dictionary and a text book. Does anyone else ever have this feeling? Does it pass? Should I skip out at the end of the school year to go back to retail (which I hate but seem to be good at)? Is it my age (25 in June) that makes them be so terrible to me sometimes? Or does everyone have a first year that's this tough?

    I guess what I'm trying to say is "HHHHEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLPPPPPPP"
     
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  3. Budaka

    Budaka Cohort

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    Mar 3, 2008

    I will lend you my ***ch button if you would like!! One of the things I do with profanity and it is highly successful is to leave the offending item (for me it is usually desks) with a note that I write in pencil saying this better be erased or covered up or YOU will be receiving a detention. Another possibility would be to work the offending sentence into an assignment (without profanity of course) and then you compare handwriting and then leave the note for whom every you think is the criminal.

    When principals say they want you to call on individual students it is often because some students hide out. I have seen even high school teachers use the pull a stick (with student's name on it) technique to assure even participation.

    Your lesson sounded just like a lesson to me! In my class I rarely lecture for long, usually my students are working while I watch! But now you know what he is looking for so you can plan next time.

    I have principals observe me when the class is all in Spanish and they have no idea what is going on sometimes!
     
  4. Budaka

    Budaka Cohort

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    Mar 3, 2008

    And by the way, even though I have been teaching for many years I had a breakdown a couple of weeks ago. My principal had to cover my class while I was crying! It happens to all of us!
     
  5. Carmen13

    Carmen13 Groupie

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    Mar 3, 2008

    The first years are tough, specially if we are and look younger (sometimes younger than our age). Believe me, I know how it feels! Having doubts about being fit to be a teacher is normal as well, and if you stick with the job, those doubts will be there for the first years... It does get better though. The more you teach, the more you become confident and know how to handle teens' stupid behaviors and not take them personally! But what you are feeling right now is normal! Just continue doing your best, with a smile on your face and don't take the principal's suggestions in a bad way (I know it is difficult not to!). Yes, you should address specific students once in a while...you catch their attention more that way (they will know that they must pay attention, because you may question them eventually).
    Hold on in there! If you feel this passion for teaching, you will turn things around!
     
  6. Carmen13

    Carmen13 Groupie

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    It does indeed! :eek:hmy:
     
  7. teacheratheart

    teacheratheart Companion

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    Mar 7, 2008

    Have you considered that maybe public education isn't where you are supposed to be? By that I mean, maybe a charter school or christian school would suit you better. If this is Gods call for your life, then you are good at it. Why would God call you to do something you are horrible at?

    Your age probably has a little to do with it. I know because I am in that same boat. I am in my 2nd year of teaching and while this year has been tremendously better than last year, it still has been stressful. All I know is I've got a week until spring break!! As my principal said yesterday, "It's a reason to keep living." :lol:
     
  8. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Mar 7, 2008

    Many principals like to see direct instruction. We use a workshop format at my school for all subjects, so we are only "teaching" the first few minutes of any lesson, then it's all hands-on, student-centered activities, like what you were doing. For observations, my principal is sure to be there at the beginning of the workshop to see how teachers introduce the concepts, etc. I wouldn't feel bad at all about him wanting to come back. Also, in my district, principals have to fill out a checklist of things they observe in your room--and some of those are unannounced observations. So they might have to come a few times to see what they need to. I remember a few years ago, my P came in and I was giving a test, obviously, she didn't see me "teaching" and had to come back.
    Hang in there! :)
     
  9. wunderwhy

    wunderwhy Comrade

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    Mar 7, 2008

    Well, I can't speak for everyone, but even a talented, committed, intelligent person in a "good" school is going to find the first year(s) of teaching the hardest. I definitely did . . . don't feel like you are alone!

    And it totally passes. I'm in year six now. Year one (middle school, not my first choice) was rough, and I had the kind of experience you're describing. I managed to transfer to a high school the next year but had essentially another first year. I had one class I absolutely hated, and they hated me, and only two of my five classes didn't drive me insane.

    Years three through six have been much more enjoyable and stress free. Yes, I've had some classes that were better than others since I feel like I got the hang of things, but it's never been as stressful as those first two years. Now I can sit back and enjoy my job everything it can be . . . intellectually stimulating, heart-warming, compelling, etc.

    I read back over some of your posts, and I was wondering if perhaps part of it for you is coming in part way into the year? If you stick around, you'll get to establish your own rules and class mood at the beginning of the year, which helps.

    Did you start teaching because you love it, or at least what it could be? Then please hang in there. Some teachers have fewer problems the first few years (I'm thinking of a friend of mine whom I mentored when she was new; she seemed to have really good classroom control for a new teacher, but she still found all those behavior management situations very stressful), but I think everyone has to learn how to anticipate and head off problems, how to detach themselves a little emotionally from the kids, how to handle attempts to derail class. This comes with time.

    P.S. I also teach 10th grade English!
     
  10. cmw

    cmw Groupie

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    Mar 7, 2008

    :lol:

    I think with our schools so focused on testing principals see direct instruction as the right method. Worksheets and tests are more important to them than collaborative learning. ;)
     
  11. Irissa

    Irissa Cohort

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    Mar 7, 2008

    OK I see you are in FL. We have a specific measurement tool that the principal must use. Its called the FPMS. Ask your department head for a copy of it if you don't have one. You must have a beginning, a middle and an end review to your lesson for the observation. Ie here is what we did yesterday the middle is the lesson you teach and the end review signals that you are done.

    You need to ask the question and wait 5 seconds then call on a specific student to answer. ( i use sticks with a kids # on it so its random a deck of cards with their names work too) In the FPMS format it is BAD to have the whole class answer.
    I don't use worksheets and I do teach in workshop format. These things can work for FPMS you just need to know what is on the form they are checking off.

    Think of the observation as impressing a first date. Not like dressing up to go jogging. Anyway I've been trained to observe using the form so if you have questions ask. Remember when you look at the form Left is good right is bad.


    Hope this helps I'll give you more pointers if you need it.
     
  12. ~mrs.m~

    ~mrs.m~ Comrade

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    Mar 7, 2008

    My district's questioning strategies included asking the question first so the whole class can be thinking about the answer, then wait about five seconds and call on someone randomly (not just people with their hands up). So I think he was WRONG there.
     
  13. MtotheC

    MtotheC Rookie

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    Mar 9, 2008


    You know what, I think he went over that form with me. I remember left-good, right-bad. I glanced at him and saw more marks on left than right. I couldn't remember which was the good side, but I was praying it was the left side :)


    It has been tough taking over in the middle of the year, and I guess I'm a little too lax about some stuff. I have a high tolerance for noise, but the talking while I'm trying to teach really gets to me. Fred Jones training has been really great so far, though. I'm trying a lot of those tactics for classroom management, and I'm amazed at how well it's working. My natural tendency is to nag because my mother is/was always that way. It's hard to break those habits. I've been upset lately because I've had my principal, dept. head, assistant principal, district mentor, and in-house mentor all "giving" me advice; frankly, I'm sick of everyone telling me how to run the classroom. I swear I'm not a pain in the butt to deal with! I'm super receptive to advice, but it feels like everyone is crawling my butt lately. Doesn't help that I feel swamped under these research projects that just got turned in and the grading period ends on Friday. I'm such a baby.

    Also, on a funny note, my in-house mentor told me to wear pastel colors and things that don't call attention to any certain part of my body. I weigh 230 and have an "ample" bosom :blush:, so I never wear flashy stuff to call attention to myself (almost all black and white). I'm really self-conscious and keep my clothes low key. Anyway, I thought it was funny because I wore a layered long/short sleeve combo of khaki green and heather brown shirt. Somehow that's flashy? LOL Guess I just find it a little insulting and sexist that he thinks I need to wear pinks and pastels in order to make my students respect me.
     
  14. Irissa

    Irissa Cohort

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    Actually I'd wear red. Its a power color. And pastels have a way of making people stand out. ( My opinion) Stick with your color scheme It's professional.

    Glad your principal showed you the sheet. He should also have given you a copy of it. If he didn't ask him for it. By taking the time to look over it at your leasure and not when you feel preasured with him It will help you improve the area's he needs to see.
     
  15. wunderwhy

    wunderwhy Comrade

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    Mar 9, 2008

    Yikes, that's weird that a male mentor would tell you not to call attention to a certain part of your body with your clothes. Awkward. What are you supposed to do, run out and get a bunch of new clothes with all the extra spending money you have as a teacher? Frankly, I'm surprised he didn't filter that comment realizing that with the wrong person, it could turn into an issue of sexual harrassment.

    My only guess is that you've worn some kind of shirt that wasn't neck high and he could see some cleavage. ???

    Hang in there (and watch Office Space to get a laugh out of 8 different bosses telling Peter how to do a TPS report). I totally understand why you are frustrated (like the pastel comment . . . I mean, really!). Probably most of these people are well-intentioned and just want to help you get in your groove. I even bet that your mentor asked a female for advice and she mentioned the pastel thing because really, what guy would come up with that?

    On another thread I read a comment about learning how to be yourself, not Fred Jones or Harry Wong when it comes to classroom management. I've been thinking about this because I'm getting a student teacher tomorrow, and I realize that some things that I do or allow other teachers wouldn't. I let the kids pack up early and line up as long as they can handle it and don't touch the door (on days when we finish a minute or two early). I don't believe in coming up with busy work or commanding that they not pack up/sit for those two minutes. But I realize that my student teacher may think, oh, I don't want them standing up, this will just lead to them trying to do it earlier and earlier or getting into trouble.

    If they are talking because they're engaged, then what's wrong with that? In time you'll develop the rapport and presence so that you can have them talk like that but still rein them in to be quiet when you need them to.

    My first year of high school I taught one class in a 20+ year veteran's room. Like I said, I had many unruly classes, but one class was just sleepy and bored and hardly anyone ever spoke. She stayed in her room getting work done that period (technically against the rules but I didn't mind), which was pretty hilarious, actually, because she'd get distracted by my lesson and answer questions all the time! (Not that I minded since none of the students were!) She wasn't an English teacher, by the way, so it wasn't like she was showing off.

    Anyway, she has one of those "nutty professor" vibes and her classes are always talking. She told me (a second year teacher) that she wanted her classes to be more like mine (i.e. quiet). But that's her style. And my class wasn't quiet because of great classroom control, just the combination of personalities. OK, so that anecdote may have been a little unrelated, but my point is, do what works for you.
     
  16. MtotheC

    MtotheC Rookie

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    wunderwhy: my classes love to talk, but not necessarily about the stuff I'm teaching. I'm one to constantly digress, and my students really seem to love that. They'll soooo get me going on other stuff. Because I love to educate, I try to teach them everything I know, and I just go off. LOL My husband calls it "flaky"; I call it forgetful. My mind really works on trigger words, though, and everything is connected to something else in my brain.
     
  17. teresa

    teresa New Member

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    Mar 15, 2008

  18. Ms. Geography

    Ms. Geography Comrade

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    FPMS

    I just looked up FPMS by doing a simple search and found that the Florida Perfomance Measurment System form is available on the web. I would suggest you print off one for yourself and make sure you are following the 'correct' proceedures before your next observation.
     
  19. MtotheC

    MtotheC Rookie

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    Yeah, I had him give me a blank copy along with the one he did for me. I think it'll be good to keep around and occasionally look at to make sure I'm on the right page, I guess.
     
  20. am elisheva

    am elisheva Rookie

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    Mar 16, 2008

    wow, what a rough first year. But i'm right in there with you, except all this happened to me last semester. but look at the bright side...

    you've got an active mentor! mine lived in a cave while I was being terrorized by my admin. and by terrorized, i mean crying on the way to school in the morning because i had no idea what might happen that day. in one semester, i was put onto two growth plans, my classes were taken away and given over to other teachers (and then i was still responsible for lower test scores!), when i was teaching, i had other people in there ready to take over without notice (and one occasion did get ugly)...

    in reference to the "advice" it is hard not to see them as crawling up your butt. but if you try to change just one thing at a time and let others know if those things are working or not, it may help you out at the end. you can't change everything all at once, right? and they've gotta understand it's going to be rough since you took over half way through the year.
     

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