Shhh! The secret's out! Lets’ get down to it – having a college or university supervisor observe one of your lessons can be super nerve-racking! We get it – we were there once. Yeah, believe it or not we were student teachers too! We all got feedback some good and some not so great.
This episode to be jam packed with tips to help make the supervisor less scary and as smooth as possible. I split up some ways that you can prepare for your college supervisor visit into three categories. Here we go!
Before the observation
Make sure that you know how you will be evaluated. Here is PA we evaluate student teachers based on the Charlotte Danielson framework for teaching. It has four domains – planning and prep, instruction, classroom environment, and professional responsibilities. When I go into an observation, I have this document up on my laptop and I am writing feedback as it fits into each of those areas. I write about what I observe and how it fits into each of those four domains. If I have a question or comment that doesn't seem to fit in those areas I have a space on the evaluation that states: Additional comments. There I might ask about a specific classroom management phrase or visual in the classroom – if the student teacher uses it or refers to it during his/her lesson.
Supervisor secret: I color code my feedback in some cases. If I write something with a dark yellow font that means when I come back to observe the student teacher, I would like to see improvement in that area. I learned that hack from a colleague of mine – it has been very helpful.
Sometimes you know ahead of time if your supervisor will come to see you that day. If you do – have a space ready to go for him/her to observe you teach. Make sure that there is a place for the supervisor to sit so they have clear view of you teaching and so that they can hear you too. I know it sounds silly but trust me they need to have a spot where they can see and hear you work your magic. Usually this is at the student teacher desk in the classroom. In addition, you are going to want to make sure that you have all materials and lesson plans ready for the supervisor to check out during their observation. So, if you are using a handout and a specific textbook (if there is an extra copy) put it at the desk where your supervisor will be so s/he can follow along. Now, sometimes you don’t know when your supervisor will be visiting that is OK get in the habit of setting up all of your materials just in case. You never know and by having these items prepared daily will help you feel more at ease.
Plan a lesson and write the lesson plan! Go all out when planning - especially if this is one of your first observations by your supervisor. Clearly detail each part of the lesson this is a great way to get feedback on your planning and it will help you out too in the long run.
Show a running record of reflection. Reflection is critical. In my book, EduMagic, I share how reflection saves lives – not just yours but your students too! Reflection is not just putting anything down after a lesson – but really dig deeper than that. Yes, in the moment after a lesson you may want to write a few things down on sticky notes – but after that during lunch or at the end of the day really reflect on the lesson.
Did your students meet the objectives?
What would you do again if you were teach this lesson again?
How can you adapt the lesson for a specific student who was struggling?
How will you go back and reteach or review this topic in the future?
How did you assess your students?
How could you tell that your students were engaged in your lesson?
Some other items you may want to have available in your binder: schedule, agenda, previous lesson plans, and a seating chart. 💡 More information about your student teacher binder here.
✨BONUS: Provide feedback from your cooperating teacher! This can help get conversation going with your supervisor to see where you are having some issues and where you are rockin’ it.
During the observation
Friends DO NOT put on a dog and pony show for the sake of the supervisor.
We want you to do what you do best – TEACH!
This part it easy – take a deep breath – smile you got this and just TEACH! You can do this teach a lesson that you prepared for. If it goes wrong that’s OK we will talk about some ways you can fix it or rework it. If it goes right (nothing goes perfect 100%of the time) great too we will talk about that too.
Remember a supervisor is going to be giving you feedback some positive and some areas that need to be worked on during the debrief. A great resource for areas of understanding and evaluation is here. Supervisors are going to be looking for the following areas (and more):
Do you know your subject area?
Are the objectives tied to state or common core standards?
Are the students engaged in the lesson? How you can tell?
Did the students reach the objective?
Did the lesson plan make sense in sequence and activities?
How is your professional presence in front of students?
Does the student teacher show reflection?
Can the student teacher be flexible in their teaching?
✨BONUS: Greet students as they come in the classroom - by name! It pays to know your students and build relationships with them.
After the observation
OK you just taught a lesson in front of your supervisor – way to go. Take a deep breath. It is done. Maybe it was fantastic, maybe there were a few hiccups, or maybe it just didn’t fly. It is OK – you will survive.
Let your supervisor know if you can meet immediately after the observation (with permission from cooperating teacher).
Take a few minutes before your debrief and think write a sticky note anything that comes to mind for these areas:
What features of the lesson went well
What could be improved upon next time you teach this lesson
Something that was interesting or a question you have. Remember this is a time for you to reflect on all the areas of teaching not just on content delivery.
Go into the debrief with an open mind and not on the defensive end. Remember this feedback will help you become a better educator to impact students. We are going to give you specific feedback we may ask clarifying questions or gives descriptions or accounts of specific examples.
One question that I love to ask at the end of the observation when I am conferencing with a teacher is “What was the objective of the lesson and did the students’ achieve it – why or why not?”
Try not to take the feedback personally – I know it's too hard not to do that.
Think about the feedback it is to help you be a better teacher.
How can you make it better for next time?
Where can you go for PD in that area?
Is there a resource that your co-op can suggest in this area? Is there an article, a podcast, a webinar that you can attend to help you strengthen that area in your teaching?
Friends, I hope that this episode helped to calm your nerves and get you ready to plan your supervisor observation with calm and confidence. Remember friends, you have the EduMagic in YOU!
🔍Finding a teaching job is tough. And finding the right teaching job for you can be even harder! But don’t worry; AAEE has you covered! Attend the Education Career Fair on Thursday, October 24th, 2019 from 1 - 5 pm at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott in Norfolk, VA to find your perfect match. Districts from the local area and across the country are ready with jobs to offer. Whether you’re looking for your first teaching job or just want to see what options are out there, you’ll be sure to make great connections that you won’t regret, and you may walk away with a copy of our trusty Job Search Handbook for Educators too! Candidate registration is always free, so go online to aaee.org/conference now.