Pausing A #PukeAlert Thanks To The Triangulation Of Data

Not too long before I went to bed last night, I sent out this tweet.

I was inundated with kind words of support, which made me realize once again just how wonderful online networks can be. It was this comment from Faige Meller though, which made me take my personal woes and start looking beyond just me.

This is my 18th year teaching. I’ve been through many evaluation experiences, and I know what to expect. I realize that I should take Kristi‘s advice and try breathing … A LOT. 🙂

But it was reflecting more on Faige’s words and my connection to them, which caused me to see a different perspective. Yes, I want my principal John‘s visit to be a great one. I want him to see in kids what my teaching partner, Paula, and I see every day. I want him to …

  • see the great thinking,
  • hear the problem solving,
  • notice the multiple entry points,
  • and experience the joyful learning that is truly a reality of a play-based classroom program!

I would be lying if I said that I won’t feel the evaluation lens that comes from a more formalized visit, no matter how well John tries to put me at ease. He actually came by yesterday, as I happened to be leading a similar transitional activity to the one that he’ll observe more formally for my TPA (Teacher Performance Appraisal).

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Thanks to @paulacrockett who recorded some of this transitional activity this morning. It started with a phonological awareness game, where students had to work with rhyming words, initial sounds, blending sounds, and syllables to figure out some words in a story. I had a few children write down some of our special words. This allowed them to match the words to print. They all read me their lists later. There are some short videos of N. and Leah doing so. I noticed that Leah found a few of the longer words harder to read. I wonder if blending them together in chunks might help. We then looked at a few mixed up vowel sounds. (This happened during play.) After the phonological awareness activity this morning, we had a quick math talk based on a photograph. I had children turn and talk about the picture before sharing their thinking together with the group. We really focused on subitizing, one-to-one correspondence, and adding small groups of objects together to get new amounts. It was interesting to see a few different children share with the full class today. I wonder if the chance to talk first helps generate ideas for further discussion. SWIPE ⬅️ FOR MORE. #ctinquiry #iteachk #teachersofinstagram

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This video was taken by @paulacrockett as kids were writing down some of the words that we brainstormed as a full group today, and others helped blend the sounds together on the carpet. I’m always thinking about those that are participating and those that are not. Sometimes stopping to give students a more specific question just for them, helps. Sometimes I wonder if hearing the language can be beneficial, and then skills can be even more targeted in small groups. Thoughts? What do you do? I also think that I need to reinforce for tomorrow that the writers don’t have to worry about getting every word down. For them, it’s about matching the oral to print. I will highlight this during a similar activity tomorrow. Grateful for the opportunity to reflect thanks to @paulacrockett’s recording! ❤️ #ctinquiry #iteachk #teachersofinstagram

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And while he did nothing more than sit down and smile, I could feel my stomach doing flip-flops as soon as I noticed him.

  • I became that much more aware of what every child was doing or not doing.
  • I became that much more in-tuned to my words and actions.
  • And I became that much more critical of myself … needing to remind myself in my head to stay responsive to kids, and not hyper-focused on the principal.

When the lesson was done and John left, I breathed again. Then I sat out in the hallway over the nutrition break, and watched, listened to, and reflected on every minute of the recording (of which only a portion is shared above). As I started to think about what I could do better tomorrow (now being today), I realized something that came to me again last night. 

  • Like a test or an exam, an evaluation is just a snapshot in time.

Once again, I’m grateful for our Daily Shoot Blog Posts, where my principal can experience each of our days, every single day. Any moment he sees in a formal evaluation, he will see many more times, informally. My final evaluation report won’t be based on a couple of observations, but the package of experiences that he can observe and reflect on thanks to our online sharing. Don’t get me wrong! I may still have a #kinderchat #pukealert if the formal observations don’t go as planned, but I can then remember that these aren’t everything.

And so comes today, when something happened with this evaluation that I did not expect

As I wait to see about rescheduling today, I decided to use this Snow Day for something good.

Proofreading these Communications of Learning, and thinking more about reporting as well as Teacher Performance Appraisals, I was reminded about the triangulation of data. Thanks to Growing Success, marks are determined based on …

  • observations,
  • conversations,
  • and work products.

While we don’t give marks in Kindergarten, our Growing Success Addendum still highlights the value in all three of these components, with “demonstrations of learning” being our term for “work products.” Maybe my TPA is the same. The process allows for observations, conversations, and samples of work to act as proof to support my professional growth. A couple of visits do not determine my “pass” or “failure.” This may be the very thinking that helps calm my anxious stomach. What about for our kids then? How are we ensuring that it’s not just the test or assignment that determines the grade? I wonder how many kids might feel as I do, and if it’s the balance of these three areas that might also make the difference for them.


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