Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Teacher Observations

Teacher Observations. . .


Last week I had my yearly classroom observation by my principal.  Normally, not a big deal. Prior to this year, I have had the same principal for the past 14 years.  After 14 years, you know what he/she wants to see.  You know what he/she likes and don't like.  If you are lucky, as I was, you have a trusting and comfortable professional relationship.  I can honestly say that, perhaps with the exception of my first year teaching, I have never been overly concerned or nervous about my yearly observation.

However, this year we have a new principal.  We are all still trying to feel him out, as he is us.  I think this must be how it feels to start dating again after a long term relationship! ;-D  Having said that, I have to admit to being a bit nervous about my observation this year.  Had I gotten too comfortable?  Did I rely too much on knowing what my previous principal wanted to see in the past?  What would this new principal be looking for?  It can be a bit disconcerting. 

I'm happy to say that I actually felt relieved when he came in.  I just wanted to get the whole thing over with.  Happily, once I started my lesson, it all just fell into place and I was actually able to forget that he was even there.  I think it all went well, but I haven't gotten my observation back yet.  So, I guess we will have to wait and see!

What got me started on this post was a posting I read by Lindsay on her blog My Life as a Fifth Grade Teacher.  She wrote a post called It's Time to be Formally Observed.  As I read it, I started comparing her observation with mine.  She was writing about scheduling her formal observation with her AP.  What?!!! What is this "scheduling" she speaks of?!!  Sooooo different from my observations.  In my district, untenured teachers have four observations a year.  Three are unannounced with just a post conference and one is scheduled (it might be two of the four scheduled, but I think it's just one) with a pre and post conference.  Two of the observations are done by building administration and the other two are done by district administration.  Tenured teachers have one formal, unannounced observation with a post conference.  That's the category I fall in.

There was something different about my observation this year.   My principal observbed me for 90 minutes!  That is a looooooooooong time to have someone watch your every move and monitor your every word!  In the past, we have always had 45 minute observations.  If you know me, you would know that I don't believe in putting on the dog and pony show.  It is what it is! But when I looked up and noticed that after an hour he was still there,  I have to say that towards the end I was sort of thinking, "Okay, what else can I do here?"  It just seemed to go on forever.  

He also did a couple of other things that haven't regularly happened in my past observations.  He walked around and examined everything in my room, from walls to desks, and very carefully examined each activity my friends were working on.   He also questioned the kids about the lesson. None of these things are bad, in fact it probably makes for a more thorough evaluation.  I just haven't seen it in a while, so I was a bit surprised.

Havng just been observed and then reading Lindsay's post, I got to thinking about how different observations can be from state to state, town to town.  So, just out of curiosity's sake, I have some questions for you.  Esentially, what are observations like in your neck of the woods?  I would love to hear from you.
  1. How many observations do you have a year?
  2. Who does your observations?
  3. How long are they?
  4. And, anything else you are willing to share about being observed!
In our district, we have to get our observation back within ten work days and at least one day prior to our scheduled post conference.  I'll let you know how it went when I get mine back.

*****Update:  I just posted this a few hours ago, but had to come back and update.  I have been reading and replying to some of the comments.  I have to say I an absolutely floored at just how varied  teacher observations are across the country.  It really is astounding that they can be so very different!  Some of  you seem to get slammed with lots of observations while others are in districts that don't seem to view them as the be all and end all.  Please, keep the comments coming.  They are really interesting to read.  I may not be able to comment on them all, but know I'm reading them all as are many others.  Thanks for your input and thoughts on this topic.





50 comments:

  1. I am a first year music teacher and in addition to having two mentors because I am K-12, the superintendent also observes me. The superintendent did two pop in short visits and two formal visits where he stayed for the entire music class which was 35 minutes. My two mentors observe me three times formally throughout the year and stay for a large portion of the music class. I kind of like being observed because it helps me refocus and make sure I am doing I am accomplishing my goals as a teacher.

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  2. I live in Tennessee and we just adopted a new system of observation. In the past before being tenured, you were observed 3 times a year. I think 2 were announced and one was unannounced. Then once you had tenure you were on a rotation to be observed every couple of years. Well, now we have 4 observations every year if you are tenured and 6 if you are not tenured. We have one that is a formal lesson play you turn in and then the adminstrator observes for 15 minutes. Then the next two are focusing on instruction for 1 hour. One is announced and one is unannounced. I think they've combined one instructinoal with one that focuses on environment too. It has been a little intense this year. Our assistant principal has been doing the majority of our evaluaions but it depends on the school. It's interesting to see how different places do it.

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    1. Wow! Four and six observations a year! That's a lot! Just from an admin point of view, if you have a good sized school that is a lot of observations to do. I'm sure yours will go well. :-)

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    2. 4 - 6 observations is crazy from an administrative perspective. My principal and AP wouldn't be able to do anything but go around observing teachers!!!

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    3. From an administrator's point of view that is exactly how it feels.

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  3. This is my last untenured year. As an untenured teacher I am observed 3 times by my principal. My principal usually schedules the observations but that is changing. They usually last 30 minutes. Tenured teachers can do an independent study instead of an observation. If they choose an observation, it's only 1 and it's scheduled.

    Next year, NY is changing the teacher evaluation system and all teachers will be observed at least twice - one scheduled, one surprise. That seems like way too much info but it has been a huge discussion topic in my district this year.

    -Becky
    Lesson plans & Lattes

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    1. It is changing in NY! It's a big discussion topic this year too at my school! (p.s. congrats on almost being granted tenure!)

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    2. Becky, what is the independent study that can take the place of an observation? I've not heard of that before.

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  4. I just discovered your blog from Pinterest and I love your blog! I may need to get a teaching blog someday.

    Wow, I never thought about how observations are different from state to state. In my district in AZ, we have one formal observation if we have been there longer than 3 years. We schedule it at the beginning of the year. We also have weekly ones where the principle or AP walks in and records what we say, what the kids are doing, asks questions to see if my kids know the objectives, and checks my objectives. We get a slip that day to see what suggestions she has. Do you have casual walk throughs also?
    Maribel

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    1. We do have walk throughs. In fact, quite often my principal comes in and actually pulls up a chair to a student table. He will sit with them and ask them questions about the lesson. I don't have a problem with walk throughs, but I do kind of wish he wouldn't engage the kids during a walk through. For some kids it is a distraction. Our walk throughs are not allowed to last longer than ten minutes or they are wandering into observation territory!

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    2. Luckily both my administrators are conscious about interuptions and when they do walk throughs they're breif but they too also tend to ask the kids a few questions unless they're testing but there is no rule about "observation territory" because technically we can be observed more than the specified # of time if the administration deems necessary.

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  5. In my state, DE, non-tenured teachers now get three observations a year [it was two last year]. One is unannounced and two are announced. For my first one, my principal asked what I would like her to see. I really appreciated that, because I also have a great relationship with my principal and really wanted feedback in a certain area.

    A tenured teacher gets one announced observation a year. Of course, they can come in and observe whoever they want, whenever they want. We have regular walk throughs using a program called PD360.

    Observations typically last however long the "lesson" is that you're teaching. The longest I've been observed is an hour. I can't imagine being watched for 90 minutes. My anxiety would be through the roof, as if it isn't already! =)

    This is my last year as a non-tenure, and I'm excited to lessen the stress of a formal unannounced observation!

    Meg
    Third Grade in the First State

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    1. Tell me about it Meg! 90 minutes is a long time! Congrats on getting tenure next year! :-)
      By the way, I taught third grade for five years. Next to fifth, it was my favorite grade to teach.

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  6. This is my 8th year and I am renewing my license. I got observed 3 times. Two 45 minutes (one done by the boss and the other one done by the AP). I also get one 'snap shot' which is 20 minutes done by the AP. My principal and AP rock! They usually give us a heads up (if they see you in the hallway). But I am like you....it is what it is. They will not get a show from me. I rather stink and being told, than pretending, and do something is not right for my kids. I pretty much know the things I need to work on.
    We have a 14 page evaluation in NC. I get to see my post evaluation right away and within 10 days I meet with who ever observed me to go over it.
    Maybe your principal stay longer because you are so good...he could not leave! :)

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    1. Hi! This is an interesting topic! As an untenured teacher in NY I am observed three times, all scheduled, with a pre and post meeting. This is done by the Superintendent, Middle School Principal, and the High School Principal. We have to submit formal lesson plans for each and we are observed based on selected criteria. If a teacher does not perform proficiently, an improvement plan is implemented. Fortunately, I don't know what that includes! Usually the observations are one period, so around 40 minutes. I believe tenured teachers are only observed once!

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    2. Wow, Tanya! A fourteen page evaluation! That has to take forever to just read! It must cover everything and then some. Thanks for reading the blog.

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  7. I'm sure yours went wonderfully...the work you share on here is just excellent!

    Our observations are a bit different too. We only have one formal observation and that is every three years, when we are up for recertification. Our principal observes us too. They are about an hour long...at least I did a Reader's Workshop lesson last year (which is an hour). As for anything else to share...I get SO nervous about being observed and it is always fine every time (well, knock on wood!). I over-analyze and worry about everything but, in the end, just teach a lesson like I normally would and it's ok. Good luck with your post conference!
    Kristen

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    1. I can't imagine having one observation every three years. Not that I love them or anything, but observations do serve a purpose. I am really surprised to read this. In NJ it seems we are moving in the opposite direction. Admin is in our classroom more now than ever before. And Kristen, I feel you on the getting nervous. There is one teacher in my building who breaks out in red, splotchy hives every time she gets observed!!! See, it could be worse! :-D

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  8. My formal observation is hopefully my last one! First year teachers in my district have 3 informal, impromptu observations for about 20 minutes. Then after that, for 2 years you just have 1 scheduled lesson per year. After that, (assuming you are a good teacher) you are done being formally observed!!

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    1. Wow, good for you Lindsay! But, does that mean you are never observed again after the two years? How do they evaluate you after that?
      And, thanks for inspiring this post!

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  9. I live in Utah. I am a first year teacher. We have a system that we have to be J-Passed. The principal comes into my classroom twice in the fall and twice in the spring. The observations are sort of announced there is a window six weeks that the principal can come in at any time. Then the information that is gathered in the observation is sent into the district and we get a formal print out of the statistics that they have found, i.e. call on students, ask follow-up questions, high order thinking questions, and off task students. I do like how I was able to see my improvement through the year.
    Becky

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  10. Ok...I feel pretty lazy in CT! I had four formal, scheduled announcements a year for my first four years until I earned tenure. Now, I don't get observed at all. I mean, I have the occasional pop in visit for five minutes, but other than that I is just me and my kids. To be honest, I kinda miss the process of reflecting and refining my teaching. I know it made me a better teacher and having the support and other point of view helped me see new things. I am sure your observation was fabulous and your new principal was thrilled with your work and your students learning!
    Jenny

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  11. In my district in PA, this is the first year we have a choice if we are tenured. Non-tenured teachers have 4 scheduled obs w/pre and post conferencing. If you are tenured, you now have a choice. You can choose to have one scheduled observation w/ pre, post conferencing or you could choose to do a project. I chose to do a project. I am reading a professional book, adapting my curriculum, and taking notes. I believe I'll need to write a paper or present my findings to a committee. I like that much better than getting observed.

    Like you, we have a new principal. This is her second year, but it was hard getting used to her after the only principal I had every worked with retired after my 20th year.

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  12. I am so glad I found your blog. I am a new follower. I teach in Illinois, and also have tenure. The policy in our district is that tenured teachers be evaluated every other year in March for one formal observation and an informal obesrvation. Usually the formal observation lasts about 45 minutes and it also depends on who evaluates us... principal or assistant principal.

    With the new law passed in Illinois concerning all teachers and observations ( doesn't matter if you have tenure or not on who is let go due to cuts... goes by evaluation scores) I have heard from several of my colleagues who have gone through the process this year that it is much different than in years past. They have been asked such things as their organizational procedures and etc. My next evaluation will be next year so it will be interesting to see how things have changed. It's supposed to be much harder to get an "excellent" rating.

    Have a great week!
    Krista
    stellar-students

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  13. I am so glad I found your blog. I am a new follower. I teach in Illinois, and also have tenure. The policy in our district is that tenured teachers be evaluated every other year in March for one formal observation and an informal obesrvation. Usually the formal observation lasts about 45 minutes and it also depends on who evaluates us... principal or assistant principal.

    With the new law passed in Illinois concerning all teachers and observations ( doesn't matter if you have tenure or not on who is let go due to cuts... goes by evaluation scores) I have heard from several of my colleagues who have gone through the process this year that it is much different than in years past. They have been asked such things as their organizational procedures and etc. My next evaluation will be next year so it will be interesting to see how things have changed. It's supposed to be much harder to get an "excellent" rating.

    Have a great week!
    Krista
    stellar-students

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  14. I live in Texas. I recently finished my masters in education. As I read your post, I could relate to many things that your principal was doing during the observation. In my district we have anywhere from one to two observations a week these are unannounced. The principals call these observations "Data Walk Through". During my internship-I was able to utilize this small device during an observation. There was so many things that had to be checked off. We also have a "Swoop Team" observe our classrooms as well. This "Swoop Team" consist of several principals from the district and the superintendent. It can be very nerve racking...because there can be as many as 4-5 people in your room at the same time. During the "Swoop Team" observation they are paying close attention if you are following your schedule, objectives are posted on the board, student engagement taking place in collaborative settings, etc. They also walk around and talk to the students about what they are doing and what the objective is that they are working on. They can even take pictures of your room. Although, many individuals were negative towards this procedure--I do understand the purpose. The district is working on improving instruction and observing techniques that are working in great classrooms and those that are not. This is all apart of "Change" and making things better. As a teacher , it can be stressful but I keep teaching and ignore the outside interference .

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    1. Whoa! Your "Swoop Team" observations sound nerve wrecking! in my district we have similar site visits but which seemed daunting umtil I read about yours. We get a team of about 10 principals, APs, and lead teachers plus 1-2 region/district personnel. They spend the day in the school but there are only 2-3 people that will walk into your room together. There's no limit on how many times your room can be walked into or how long they can stay but they aren't supposed to talk to the kids if you are actively teaching.

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    2. I too live in Texas, but we don't have a swoop team like you mentioned. Whew! That would be stressful. We have one scheduled 45 observation and surprise walk-throughs by the principal and AP. They only have 3 minutes to observe and all the information gets tracked. Because the number of walk-throughs is a competition between the principals in the district, we seem to get quite a few at certain points of the year and then hardly any at other times.

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  15. I'm nominating your blog as one of my top 10 picks. Stop by my blog for your award!

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  16. In my district in OR, non-contract (there isn't tenure in our state anymore)teachers are observed 3 times in the Fall and Spring for their first 3 years. Each time 2 observations are scheduled and 1 is unannounced with pre and post conferences. A contract teacher has a menu of options to choose from including action research, formal observations, etc. There are about 10 options. If the school has a principal and a assistant principal, they are assigned to one of them for 2 of the observations and the other does the 3rd. If a contract teacher changes schools, then they may be formally observed the first year at the new school.

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  17. In Arizona, the tenure system was completely taken away, so we don't have any protection there. However in my district, if you've been teaching in the district for more than 5 years you only have to do 1 formal observation each year. It is scheduled and there is a preconference and then a postconference with the principal. There are also several walk throughs that are not scheduled and the principal will complete a "walk thru evaluation".

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  18. Our district has a whole evaluation process. For those untenured teachers, they are to have two formal observations (one which is unannounced) for the first three years. These observations are quite tedious however. They start with a pre-conference, then teachers must chose a learning goal with pre-test and post-test results, the observation(s), a survey of either students or parents, and then a post-conference with the principal. In between, the principal is required to do weekly "walk-throughs" which take anywhere from 5-10 min. in the classroom.
    Tenured teachers have to go through this process every three years, with the only difference is that tenured teachers only have one observation per year. But they get weekly walk-throughs as well.

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  19. Oh tenure... yeah AZ doesn't have that anymore. Therefore, even if I've been here forever I can have multiple poor evaluations in a year and get the ax. However, in my district we have 1 formal observation if we've taught for more than 3 years. Teachers in their 1st-3rd year have 3 formal observations 2 are scheduled. All teachers are subject to principal observation whenever she can get to it. Usually about once a month and it always includes feedback.

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  20. Here in GA, we don't have tenure. This is my fifth year teaching, and I have 2 formal "announced" visits where I sign up for a date and time with the principal. It lasts about 45 minutes. We have 2-3 informal "unannounced" visits where they do a walk-through. As a school, we decide on 3-5 things that the principal or assistant principal needs to see when she walks in. She only stays for about 5-10 minutes. Our observations include the administrator walking around, looking at things, and talking to the students as well. I am always nervous, but I end up being thrilled when one (at least) of my kids can explain something really well!

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  21. We adopted a new evaluation system this year in my district. We are evaluated four times a year, 2 announced and 2 unannounced. One unannounced completed by the principal. One announced and one unannounced by a Master Teacher. Last announced by a Mentor Teacher. The announced evals have pre and post conferences while the unannounced have post conferences.

    Jana
    Thinking Out Loud

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  22. I am a first year teacher in Missouri. I have had 3 formal observations where every word I say is typed out. These have been planned and unplanned and he watched the entire subject area so (90 min and 50 min). At my school where the principal will stop in walk around the room and maybe talk to a few students, this happens at least once a day if not more.

    Not to dog on the tenured teachers but as a first year teacher I am not returning due to a Reduction in Force (RIF). Because I was a first year teacher my job is given to the teacher whose program was cut because she holds tenure. I feel like teachers who are tenured need to be observed just as often as those who are not, because as a tenured teacher lessons may slip. I think some teachers abuse the tenure situation and do put on a “show” so to speak when there principal comes in for the observation. With the daily walk-through the hope is to see the actual teaching and not just what you want to show case in your once a year observation.

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  23. I wanted to start by saying your blog has been somewhat of a saving grace for me. I was switched from teaching Kindergarten to 5th Grade this year. Yours was the 1st blog I found from a 5th grade teacher and it calmed many of my fears.

    As far as observations in my district there are some norms but they really seem to vary from school to school. Here are the basics:

    Beggining teachers (upto 1st 3 years can count) require 2 observations by school site administration, but the same person can't observe you twice. So basically Prinipal and AP. And they should be at least 2 months appart. All other teachers get one observation by any school site administrator. Observations are supposed to be unscheduled but teachers are supposed to be aware when administration is conducting observations. All observations must be completed by the end of March.
    Observations last 30 minutes.
    You meet with your observer for a post observation conference within 5 days (it might be 3 :0/) of your observation.

    So that's what it should be. Simple right? Not in my school!! Our principal and AP slit the list of 86 teachers at the beggining of the year. You're not supposed to know who will observe you but if you ask them they will tell you if you are on their list. We get told during announcements that observations are ongoing but by now everyone has learned which days its NOT going to happen. With our old Principal new teachers got observed by one of the APs first and then by her. Our new principal likes to see the new teachers herself for the 1st observation and our AP (we only have 1 now) gets the 2nd observation. Teacher's don't schedule observations but they drop hints on mornings they have a cute or fun activity planned. Sometimes observations get interupted and you get an IOU note saying when they hope to be back.

    I'm a beggining teacher so I'm due for my 2nd observation any day now. My 1st one (although it was not my 1st ever observation) was a bit nerve wrecking. My class has specials from 8:30 - 10:30 everyday and on Mondays they go until 11:05 because of the DARE program. Sure enough my principal chose monday at 11:10 to walk in my door with her green binder (which we all know is her observations binder) in tow. There I was collecting class tshirt $ and progress reports while my kids were finishing morning work, taking AR tests, out at the library and delivering shirts to other teachers. I kept going because I had no idea where to go from there. Luckily she walked around the room talked to two girls and said "It looks like D.I. time. I wanted to observe you but maybe I should come back in a little while." To which one of my darlings answered "no you can stay". I told her lunch was at 12 and she agreed to come back after lunch. I was so relieved!! Except when she came back she stayed for an hour and half. During my post conference she was very nice and we have a good rapport so I confessed that what she 1st walked into was everything but D.I. and we both laughed. I'm looking forward to getting round 2 out of the way becuase my AP has a VERY different personality and although we have an even better rapport becasue I've known her longer she's not as eaily amused :D

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    1. I wanted to add on your note about how your principal looked at everything in your class. When we get observed every little thing gets looked at for all teachers. They use a checklist and make notes on each thing. Including: Lesson Plans, student work folders, D.I. plans, classroom displays, appropriate use of manipulatives, technology, Data Binders, etc.

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  24. In Virginia they tried to eliminate the continuing contract status for teachers. It isn't exactly tenure, but it is a similar idea. After 3 years, you receive a continuing contract and have to be given due process if someone wants to cut you. They are also trying to push merit pay as well. Fortunately they voted down the contract issue. We were concerned about speaking up for our students for fear they could start to cut us. In my county, our observation system is on tiers. Tier 1 is a new teacher up to three years of service. They have several observations (I can't remember how many) in a year and must have a post conference with the administrator. Once you're on Tier 2 (anyone over 3 years of experience, though lesser experience can be moved up), you have walk throughs only. My administrator will come in to my room at least once a nine weeks to check out what I'm doing. He/she has a check list about objectives, what the kids are doing, and quality of instruction. They are required now to ask the children if they know what the objective of the lesson is. I find they have a way of asking that one child that was out to lunch when we went over it. The administrators also tend to miss my objectives, even though it has been posted in the same spot for nine years in the same way before it became a trend to do so. As someone mentioned earlier, it drives me nuts that they talk to the kids about the lesson because as soon as my kids hear a different voice, they are distracted and done. It is fairly relaxed though. They'll only meet with Tier 2 people if they are concerned about something they've seen. We also need to put together a portfolio to be evaluated by the administrator. In there we must include some of our philosophies of learning, list our contributions to the school and our professional learning, show examples of our communication to the parents, show samples of lesson plans, unit plans, and assessments, include results of a student/parent survey, and include data about grades and benchmarks. Tier 3 folks are the leaders within the school. They do many of the Tier 2 steps, but their portfolio requirement is simpler. They also go to observe another teacher and video tape a lesson to reflect on. If you ask me that last part should be at every level!

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  25. I live in AZ and every district is different. None of us have tenure, but teachers that have been with our district less than three years have two formal evaluations a year by the principal. All continuing teachers only get one. Our principal lets us choose if we would like to schedule a day or if we want to be surprised. I always say surprise me, because I don't believe in "getting ready" for it. I teach everyday, so any day is fine. We get a post conference within a week. Although we only get observed formally 1-2 times a year, our principal, reading coaches, and district administrators walk through all the time. There isn't a day when someone doesn't stop by. Sometimes they'll leave a note, but usually they just pass through. My students are used to being asked for an objective, and have learned to continue working with the constant flow of people. The first few years I felt very uncomfortable with so many people watching and interrupting all the time. Now I just go with it. I know I am doing my job, and they are just doing theirs. Our students know how many people are invested in their education, and feel supported by all of the people that come to see them. The students realize we all work together to educate them. My principal doesn't judge me based on a 45 minute observation. She sees me all the time, good days and bad. She observes me often enough to get true picture of my abilities. My formal evaluation gives me very little stress, because I work so closely with my administration and district personal. We really do work as a team, and I see any comments on my evaluation as advice from a respected mentor. I know it's not like that everywhere in this area. I am thankful to work in my district.

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  26. As a NYC teacher if you are untenured there are 6 formals a year. If you are tenured it is 1 formal. That being said, when we had a change in admin 3 years ago I was observed over 20 times the first year. Some were walk throughs, many were over 20 minutes long. I never had any feedback unless it was negative. Because we have the right (according to contract) to request in writing a pre observation conference, he never was able to give me a "U". My one formal was rated "S" and that was because he and the 2 APs did it and they went to bat for me. I have been teaching 20+ years and have never had such an awful time of it as I have lately. As for talking to the kids.....OMG he is so disruptive. He asked a student to see her notebook. We had Mid terms M-W that week and he came on Thursday. He asked her for her notes for the week. The girl said I have no notes, it was mid terms, I was taking the test. He said I know it was mid terms, where are your notes? This went on for over 5 minutes until I stopped my lesson and asked if there was a problem. I was questioned extensively as to why the students had no notes for the week. I kept replying that it was exam week. I even showed him the calendar from HIS office. He took out his handy dandy notebook and wrote my name and "NO STUDENT WORK FOR THE WEEK" next to it. The kids were very upset, as was I. I never received an explanation for what type of notes students should have for an exam. I am very worried about the new "Danielson Framework" in place for this year.

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  27. You know, I am thinking back on my 3 years with our new leader and all the 'very important' feedback I have gotten. Things like-Board has too many colors, the date is on the wrong side of the board, the kids can't use markers in class, writing for most of the period is not acceptable and my favorite: the kids were having too good a time. I really wonder what the purpose of this process really is. I have been there 17 years and know my kids and have many instances of having taught strings of siblings so I know the families as well. I have only ever had 1 parental complaint years ago that the then principal backed me on. I know I am not perfect and have bad days as well as good ones. I have so many do's and dont's that my teaching has changed and suffered over the past few years. I teach a checklist now and not meaningful lessons. If I could change careers now I would.

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  28. Each student had to observe a classroom for four hours and interview the teacher regarding thier ideas about the primary purpose of schooling, how schools met the needs of a varity of different learners.

    classroom observation

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  29. I am in NYC and we have a new observation process that STINKS! we can chose either one formal and 3 pop ins or 6 pop ins. I chose 1 formal and 3 pop ins so I can control something! Our supervisors are using the danielson rubric which is PAGES long and rates us 1-4 for every little thing. Even our grammar, communication with kids, parents. Our involvement with the community. Whether or not we reflect on our teaching. It's INSANE! Our union says they can't tell us how to write a lesson plan, but now there a spot where we get graded on them. And if you pick pop ins...they ask for your lesson plans every time. So they have to be written out with standards for EVERY lesson! it's RIDICULOUS! We also get graded on whether or not we are flexible and how well we know we know our students.

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  30. I was just observed for my formal OTES observation in Ohio at a virtual school, so I was observed in the virtual setting. You know how you just have a lesson that goes too long and not how you planned it? Well, that's what this was. I was rated as Ineffective even though I have recordings of many past classes that went very well. I feel like I'm being evaluated based on one lesson that went bad which isn't fair. They are asking me to sign my observation form and I'm not sure what to do. This is a community/charter school so I have no union to back me up. I'm not sure if I should not sign it because I do not believe I'm an ineffective teacher and I don't want to make it like I'm agreeing with them because I signed it. I have been teaching for over 6 years and every observation up until now has averaged at "very effective" the highest category. They nit-picked on the fact that the lesson went too long and just didn't go well. Any advice?

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    1. Do you have the option of attaching a rebuttal to your observation? It would provide you the opportunity to explain why things went the way they did. There may be factors that the observe may not have been aware of, perhaps the content of that particular lesson is a factor in the lessons progression, or it may be this particular student population didn't respond as expected for reasons you can explain. Just throwing those ideas around as a way of saying writing a rebuttal allows you to explain and/or refute the observation point by point. While it doesn't change the observation, it lets anyone who goes into your file and read it the opportunity to see there was more to the story. It is also a place I would cite my previous observations and mention commendations you have received in the past that relate to areas of concern in your current observation. If you new it then, you certainly didn't just forget it all while teaching this lesson!

      If you can't attach a rebuttal, can you ask to be observed again? I would again cite my past exemplary observations and request another observation if possible. If you can, you might even ask for a different administrator to observe.

      I am also being evaluated with a new evaluation model this year. In the past, as a tenured teacher, I had one observation. This year, I will have three. I was sort of annoyed at first to have three after so many years of just having one, but if that one hadn't gone will I would have appreciated the fact that I had two more to help balance it out.

      I'm not sure how the virtual setting impacts this, so I can't address that. I do wish I had better advice for you. Hopefully, some other readers might have more ideas. I'm going to ask readers to stop by in my next post and offer some help if they can.

      I can only wish you all the best with this. But, whatever happens, don't let this one evaluation ever make you doubt yourself as a teacher. You have wonderful evaluations in the past. Your teaching has not suddenly done a 180. It is not the player that has changed, but the rules of the game that have changed! And, when they suddenly change the rule of the game, there are bound to be hiccups. I am sure you are still the same great teacher you were last year and the years before that!

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  31. It's very interesting to see classroom observations from this perspective. I think you're right about the necessity of classroom observations. They serve at least two functions that I can see. They help train new teachers on effective classroom practices. This sort of training is extremely valuable to incoming teachers. Observations also provide feedback to current teachers so they can improve their teaching. There is little in place currently to provide teachers with this feedback and to give them incentive to improve as teachers. Good classroom observation would really help to improve schools. http://www.observe4success.com

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  32. What does being flexible mean? I noticed that in the evaluation as well. Teacher is flexible. What does it mean?

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  33. I have been teaching for 11 years, and in my district in Colorado Springs, we are a pay for performance district. We get 2 45 minute formal observations a year, and 8 unscheduled "spot" observations that last from 15 to 30 minutes. I hate them more than anything. :-)

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  34. I work in a small school in Northern California so far I've had my formal initial I've had two other unannounced observations and then I was given a letter of non reelect. we only have a month left until school ends and I am still being observed after being given a letter of non reelect which means i can never work for this district again.I have been observed twice since my being let go and the deadline for the summative april 12th has passed. What is the meaning of this? I've asked around and no other teachers are being observed.

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