Because life is a series of edits

The Power of Observation

In Educators on October 7, 2012 at 10:13 am

A few weeks ago, Megan and I played brunch hosts to a young woman
from our church who is finishing up her education
degree at a local university. She is six weeks into her student teaching at a
local public high school and her experience has been anything but positive, not
so much because of the students, but because she feels very, very alone. Her
"mentor" teacher is anything but, and her education professor has
basically stated that this loneliness is good training for what the "real
world" of teaching is.

To make things worse, the principal at her school
doesn't know her name, and she's not even sure he knows she's there. My heart broke for her. I really don't want this to be the case
for our teachers – new or returning – at Veritas.

With this in mind (and as we do every year),
Grammar School principals Ann Taylor, Todd Wedel and I have been investing the
past few weeks in our Veritas classrooms. We started by observing our new
teachers, and are now in the process of evaluating our returning teachers by
way of a formal evaluation, during which we sit in on an entire class period to
observe and take notes. We then write a 2-3 page narrative of each teacher's
class and how he or she proceeded with students through the lesson for that day
according to our vision, mission, and teacher job description

Following the observation (sometimes immediately after), we
write up our thoughts and email them to the teacher. We then get together with
the teacher at his or her earliest convenience to walk and talk through the
narrative, share a few observations and process questions together. Then, if all seems good and right, we'll both
sign the report, make the teacher a copy, and the original goes in the
teacher's personnel file for reference. I'm happy to report (and as many of our
parents keep telling me), we're blessed to have the teachers we do! 

We'll repeat a similar process more formally in the spring, with
all three principals observing each teacher. For now, though, we're on track to
finish our fall evaluations by Fall Break (which was our goal), and from here
will continue to interact and process with teachers in conversation and as
challenges and opportunities arise, as well as in our monthly staff meetings
(one of which we had yesterday). It's always an enjoyable and important
process. 

Note: Earlier this week and at my suggestion, the young woman I
mentioned at the beginning of the story arranged for me to come observe her
teaching a class at her public school. After writing her evaluation and
processing through it with her afterward, I've got my eye on her as a possible
future Veritas teacher!

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