The last time I got to watch another teacher teach was when I was a student teacher six years ago.
Back then I really didn’t know enough to observe what was happening and understand what I was seeing.
Today I finally got the chance to watch an excellent teacher teach a social studies lesson.
This was very useful to me because I now have the background and experience to really look at what was going on — and what was not happening —in front of me.
I wish this had happened a couple of years ago.
It is happening now because my principal says my one teaching weakness is my classroom management. He is being kind.
Classroom management is something I completely understand in theory and I even know the dance steps, but I can’t seem to keep from tripping over my two left feet.
I know I have to set up good procedures from the beginning and stick to them, but I never seem to have the right ones.
This year has been especially difficult because I was out the first month of school with my knee injury and the kids had lots of opportunity to develop bad habits. I also was teaching general education classes for the first time.
The best thing about watching another teacher work is that I am able to compare what I saw to my own practice, and I am man enough to admit that compared to Mrs. A, I have absolutely dreadful class management skills.
Realizing that is the first step to improving.
Mrs. A was masterful in the way she not only managed a class with several difficult students but actually got those 8th graders to think independently in the process.
I came away with lots of management techniques and a new process for analyzing photographs, posters, and other documents.
I also came away with a strong desire to watch other teachers teach.
There is a current movement to greatly increase the amount of time teachers-in-training spend student teaching and I am all in favor of that.
But I also think that a few years after being certified all teachers should be required to observe one or more colleagues for a few days.
I know I’m ready to sacrifice some prep periods to do that.