Teachers are accustomed to having an audience. After all, in the classroom, teachers are not only teachers, but nurses, engineers, coaches, counselors, and actors. However, stage fright tends to kick in when our audience switches from tiny humans to adults with a laptop taking notes on our every move. Teacher observations can be nerve wrecking. Here are some tips to help you keep calm during your formal observation!
PLAN PLAN PLAN
Teaching is a perfect combination of over-planning and then learning to be flexible. I cannot tell you how many times I would over prepare for a lesson only to run out of time to finish every activity. However, planning every detail brought me confidence for the day. I knew the exact steps to take for every activity and could conquer each day knowing that I was prepared. Planning every detail of your observation lesson, not only helps the observer to see that you are prepared, but it helps you to feel confident.
PRO TIP: If you are working with any manipulatives or making a craft along with your lesson, be sure to have these prepared in advance. For example: have the manipulatives ready for each child (or ensure that each child knows where the manipulatives are located to easily access them). If you have a craft, cut out any pieces ahead of time that may help the activity to run smoothly and be sure that students have the supplies they will need to complete this.
After planning your lesson, it is helpful to have a couple of back up activities prepared. We all know that sometimes technology is not our best friend, a student may need extra attention, or a lesson just simply does not go the way you expect. In these cases, having back up activities prepared that are relevant to the lesson will be lifesavers!
PRO TIP: Fluency and Fitness is an excellent resource to have on hand. The games are engaging, easily accessed, and there is a resource for any K-2 lesson you may be teaching!
PREPARE YOUR CLASSROOM
Before an observation, I liked to give my classroom a little extra love. There is no need to re-do your bulletin boards or rearrange your furniture, but it is nice to do a little extra straightening and cleaning so that you feel fresh and ready for the big day! If you have a specific activity students have completed that you are extra proud of – take this opportunity to display this work around the room!
Nothing is worse than rolling into your classroom right before students arrive. This leaves you feeling frazzled and behind before the day has even begun. On observation day, be sure to wake up just a little earlier, give yourself time to get ready so that you feel great. Grab that coffee that puts some extra pep in your step! Arrive at your classroom early, take a deep breath and calmly prepare for the day.
On observation day it is your decision whether you would like to tell your students that a visitor will be coming to your classroom. I always liked to prepare my students in advance. It is important for students to be themselves so the observer has an authentic account of your daily lessons. I would not say anything to change their behavior or alter our routines.
If you would like to prepare your class, you may choose to tell students that someone important may come into our classroom to watch a lesson. If they come in, instruct student to be respectful. I would tell students they can smile or wave at the visitor as they enter while staying in their seat. Sometimes, I would even appoint a greeter from our classroom to greet visitors at the door. This student knew that when a visitor came, they were to walk to them, give a smile and a wave, then say “welcome to our classroom!” This was always a hit with visitors!
At the end of the day, an observation should be genuine. Go into the day knowing that you are an excellent teacher. Know that there will be hiccups – no lesson goes perfectly. Remember that when something does not go as planned, this can be a great teachable moment for a student. Administrators want to see you being yourself with a classroom full of students that are comfortable. They want to see that your students are engaged, and that you are flexible enough to handle anything that may come your way with grace. Be yourself and I know you will knock this observation outta the park!