I blog to share my feelings. I blog to reflect. I blog to refine my practices, and hopefully, become a better teacher. That’s why I need to write this post, and it’s a hard one to write. I have a confession to make: walkthroughs terrify me! Now that being said, please don’t get me wrong. I absolutely adore our administrative team: Paul Clemens and Kristi Keery-Bishop are fantastic people to work with! I learn a lot from both of them, and I appreciate how much they consistently get me thinking.
They’re not intimidating at all. They come in, talk to students, and see what’s happening in the classroom. The students love sharing their learning with them, and they’re always excited when they come for a visit. And I love that my administrators are so visible in the classroom and so eager to be a part of the learning environment. In fact, I welcome Paul and Kristi in the classroom anytime … even though their visits scare me.
So why do their visits concern me? They do because I’m afraid that there’s going to be a problem. I’m afraid that I’m not going to be good enough. I’m afraid that the lesson is not going to go as planned. I’m afraid that their snapshot of the learning environment will not capture everything.
And you know what? Sometimes there are issues. Sometimes I wish that Paul and Kristi showed up at another time and observed a different lesson. But even if this is the case, I think about what worked and what didn’t, I ask them for feedback (not because they’re there to evaluate me, but because I want to improve, and feedback helps me with this), and then I try again.
Walkthroughs may terrify me, but I’m getting better at working through being scared. 🙂 How do you feel about walkthroughs? What advice can you give me to overcome being scared? I hope that by the end of this year, I can confess that walkthroughs delight me — period! I’m working on it. 🙂
Great post, Aviva. You are not the only one who feels this way. Though having only seen what and how you teach online, I can say you have nothing to worry about. I think you have to take this into any evaluation or simple walkthrough. You are an amazing teacher, who just won a teaching award. You know what you do is for the students. You are always reflective, you plan, you research, you take suggestions. I think any admin would be jumping to have you grave their staff. Carry that swagger with you, though from what we have talked about you are also humble about it.
Personally, this is how I deal with these situations. I know it’s a little cocky to think this but it does help. Know your accomplishments and wear them proud. You have earned them and you do great things. Just my two cents though.
Thanks Jonathan! I appreciate the comment. Just on the weekend, I was talking to my best friend (not in education) about how nervous I am about my upcoming TPA (Teacher Performance Appraisal). I said that I really want to get my binder of data organized over the Winter Break. He laughed at me. He wondered about how I could be nervous about passing a TPA when I just won the Prime Minister’s Award. But this is “Classic Aviva.” 🙂
It’s good to remember the positives, and I’m sure this would help, but my stomach still goes into knots when Paul and Kristi come for a visit. I know it’s silly too, as even though their visits scare me, I still really love that they come. I’m like a classic case of contradictions! 🙂
Yes you are a bundle on contradictions. I think you need to borrow some of my extrovertedness and I borrow some reflective skills and nervousness from you.
I also find that the more I have opened my classroom the more I come use to people in the class. To me they are just another teacher or person, observing amazing things in the class. And if, and only if, something unexpected happens I take it as a learning opportunity and not a reflection on my teaching.
You can also view it as this: a TPA is meant to pump you up. It is a reference of all the amazing things that you have done and accomplished in five years (which is a lot). It should never be there to make you look incompetent. If you were failing I would hope your admin would have told you a long time ago.
Good luck, you’ll be fine.
Thanks Jonathan! I think that when people come in for a visit, I’m going to need to ask them to wait for a minute, and then I’m going to have to open up this post and read this comment to calm down. 🙂
The funny thing is that I have visitors all the time. I also have two EAs in the room and a student teacher. The room is always full of adults, and each one makes me a bit nervous. Maybe being nervous isn’t a bad thing.
I think that having adults in the room or visiting, makes me more aware of what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and how I’m doing it. I reflect more frequently. I start to see lessons from their point of view, and this often leads to good changes for me. So nervousness aside, the payoff is big, and that’s why I continue to enjoy visitors and continue to encourage them to come.
Your classroom is an amazing place to be – students are actively engaged in their learning: talking, sharing, thinking, responding, wondering, problem-solving. No wonder your administrators want to be in your room (I would love to visit too!)!
As someone who does not have my own class, I really love going into classrooms and being with the students – thinking, discussing and wondering with them. Connecting with students is why we teach, and being where learning is happening is irresistible :-).
To alleviate nerves perhaps realise that the adults in the room are drawn to the learning experiences and the desire to be where the action is! Tell yourself that the administrators are not there for you – but your students – and the need to be a part of the core business of schooling –> LEARNING. Try to see yourself as the background (a hugely talented, innovative provider of exceptional learning experiences), but it’s the students who are the stars in action, and who your administrators are there to see!
Hope this perspective helps to relieve your stress (and it does not in anyway mean to diminish your abilities, your talents or your successes – just another way you might look at a stressful situation!)
PS I would love to be a part of your classroom and you would have trouble keeping me out if you taught at my school 🙂
Thanks for the comment, Kim! I do like this spin on things. The truth is that I know that there are ways that I can improve my practices (each day, I reflect on what worked and what didn’t, and each day, I make changes). Even though the admin do not come in to evaluate, I do always ask them for feedback, and I do always appreciate their suggestions.
Seeing things from this perspective though, reinforces that the principal and vice principal are there as part of the learning team. Will I still be nervous when they walk in? Probably. But will this help me get past my worries quicker? Maybe. It’s definitely worth a try! 🙂
P.S. And if you’re ever visiting Ontario, and find yourself in the Ancaster area, do consider a visit! I’d love to meet you face-to-face, even if I’m a bit nervous. 🙂
Aviva – I think the fear comes from expecting that they are judging you and you worry about not measuring up to some standard you have for yourself. My advice is to define what YOU want from the walk through. Ask them to observe something specific & give you feedback. It might be the level of engagement for specific students, or the thinking level of your questions, etc. My point is to ensure the walk through is a learning experience for you (or them) by being very specific about what you want them to observe. It’s not only more useful but it also gives you a level of control that should reduce fear.
If you try that, let me know how it goes.
Thanks for the comment, Carol! I think that you’re right about the problem, and it is totally a “me thing.” While the walkthroughs up until this point have been purposely planned by the principal and vice principal to observe learning throughout the school and look at ways that they can support us more, maybe I need to do the opposite as well. I know that in the new year, I’ll be setting up more visits as my TPA comes closer, so maybe specifying what I’m looking for as well, will help. It really is funny, as even though walkthroughs worry me, I do LOVE that Paul and Kristi come by as frequently as they do. The students are seeing them as an important part of the teaching and learning process, and that’s a really good thing. I think that this is something that I just need to overcome. Maybe it’s just a matter of additional practice (with more visits)!
Now I feel guilty…kind of. I don’t want anyone to stress when we walk in the door – not teachers, students, EAs. I see the role as a partner in student learning. Getting in there, talking to students, seeing evidence of their learning helps me better understand what’s going on in their heads. I miss having my own classroom because I don’t get this opportunity as often. I go into classrooms to learn, not to judge. If I’m asked for feedback I will surely offer it. I hope that feedback won’t be judged as evaluative but as an opportunity for me to learn more from the teacher and students, and maybe for the teacher to have something to think about from a different perspective. TPAs happen once every five years. Learning in the classroom should happen every day by students, administrators and teachers. I’m sorry you are terrified – just think of us as two more students in the class because that’s really what we are trying to be. Thanks for welcoming us in anyway 🙂
Oh my goodness, Kristi! Please don’t feel guilty (not even a little)! Even though visits kind of terrify me, that’s a “me problem,” and certainly nothing to do with you. And honestly, if you are coming in, I WANT the feedback. This feedback helps me see things from a different perspective, and it helps me reflect on my teaching practices. It helps me make better choices as a result … and this benefits the students!
So please, push me a bit outside of my comfort zone, and do keep coming in! I really enjoy having you in here, even if I’m scared. Hopefully in time, the fear will go away too! 🙂
If it is any consolation, I was always nervous when my Principal came in to visit me too … then I learned a trick that served me well. As Carol suggested, I made it a regular practice to share with my Principal what I was doing in my class that I thought was going really well and I started extending invitations on a weekly basis. There was something empowering about having some say in the visits, especially when I knew that I wanted to make my lessons better. When I started to view my Principal as my teaching partner that made things a whole lot better. Don’t get me wrong, I still got nervous about formal visits but at least I knew that my Principal had also seen me at my best and that I showed a desire to improve and collaborate.
PS – I agree with Jonathan… Don’t worry about the TPA. You demonstrate excellence on a daily basis … take time to enjoy your holidays and forget about the binder 🙂
Thanks for the comment, Paul! You and Carol have convinced me! I’ll email you and Kristi and try to set-up regular visits with you. This will be good practice for me getting over my fear and a nice way for us to work together. I thought that I was sharing with you already what’s happening in the classroom, but maybe I’m not as much as I thought. Having the opportunity to work together more will be good, and having feedback for ways to improve, will be good as well. I also know that my students will enjoy this, as they always talk later about how much they enjoyed sharing their learning with you.
P.S. As for the binder, you know that I’ll be working on it over the holidays! Some old habits are just too hard to change. 🙂