Many years ago, as a new teacher, I was scared. Now I wouldn't have told you that at the time. I was confident in my abilities. I had taken my trainings and classes seriously. But if you told me that another adult was coming into my room to observe or visit, whether it was an admin or parent, I would be upset/bothered/worried/frustrated at the intrusion. I felt that they were judging me. Was I doing my job? Was I good enough for their child? Did I make mistakes that would make other people question my abilities? Could I be fired? (My first job was at a private school where I didn’t have quite the protections I have now in a public classroom.) This was slightly increased when I was first told I would have a paraeducator who would be in my classroom most or all of the day. Boy do I wish I could go back to that young teacher and tell her what I know now!
Today I say, LET THEM IN! In fact, I am the first to volunteer when the school is asked for parent tours or a future teacher needs observation hours. I welcome those school board members or district people. I encourage other teachers in our school and others to watch what I do. It’s not that I am more confident now. In fact I think I am more realistic about what I can and can’t do than I was back then. What has changed is my perspective.
Whenever someone comes into my class, it’s an opportunity to reinforce what I’m doing. It’s not about impressing them. If I can explain it to someone new, then I better understand it myself. When you teach it, you learn it more deeply. This is what we tell the kids, right??? I find myself stepping away from the students to share with our visitors what’s going on without a thought. (If I am in the middle of working with a student or group, I do wait until the appropriate time though.) Since the students are independent in what our procedures and activities are, I have the ability to step away. (Love being more student centered for this and many other reasons!).
It’s a hard thing to have someone come into your classroom to watch you. Yes, you will feel judged (at least for a little while). It’s getting over that fear and embracing the opportunity. As the school year is getting ready to begin, whether you are already teaching, setting up your classroom, or spending those last few glorious days of summer trying NOT to think about what is to come, I challenge you to ... LET THEM IN!
20+ year teacher, mother of 2 kids and 2 dogs, wife, lover of all things M&M, interested in tech in the classroom, and changing up my teaching