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The Observer Effect

Next week, I’m having the first of my three formal observations. As I’ve been preparing for this observation, I’ve been thinking about the planning of the perfect lesson and the validity of announced observations. As usual, I’m finding myself somewhat conflicted.

On the one hand, I want every chance to put my best foot forward. I want the chance to plan for every eventuality and worst-case scenario. I want to showcase my understanding of differentiation and also the minutia that go into a successful lesson.

But, wait. I want these things for all my lessons. I want every lesson to be outstanding and tiered for all the different learners in my classroom. And I want someone to be able to walk into my classroom at any time, and see that. That’s why a lot of new teacher evaluation systems are starting to incorporate informal or unannounced observations. If we want true assessments of our abilities as teachers, we can’t always get a heads up when someone wants to see us teach.

So, I feel a bit guilty putting so much extra effort into next week’s observation lesson. By polishing it, and taking the lesson plan through multiple drafts with help from feedback from other teachers, I know it won’t be an authentic representation of my daily teaching. But my AP knows this, so in effect, we both know it’s not necessarily my daily teaching, but it is a true measure of my best planned teaching.

So the question is how do make my best teaching my daily teaching? When I finally teach this lesson I will have spent a couple of hours planning, including conversations with other teachers and my own work. Is there a way to do this for every lesson without averaging an hour plus per lesson? If so, I’m anxious to find it.

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.

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