Class Take Over!

This should be required for all teachers at least once a quarter. I don't know how it would logistically work out, but if I ever become an administrator, I'll make it happen. Somehow. The this I'm referring to is a take-over day!

I've had an observer in my class named Michael Aleto for a little over a month. He is a teacher in training at a local university in Kansas City. He was placed at Center High School, where he was then placed with me. I was a bit nervous about this for two reasons at the start:
  1. I don't teach in a conventional manner. I know it almost never turns out like this, but I still have this nagging anxiety that visitors to my room will think that I am teaching totally wrong. This is part of why I love going to other teacher's rooms and telling them later how awesome I thought it was;* part of our responsibility as teachers is to build each other up.
  2. This was my first long-term observer. Would he be bored? Would he ask me ridiculous questions all the time and take up all of my free time? Would he be terrible with the kids and force me to have an awkward confrontational conversation? These are all questions that ran through my head.**
*Assuming that the class was, in fact, awesome!
**Yup. Welcome to my mind. A scary place. 

I am in a phase of wanting to see others teach and wanting to learn from collaboration. I know that this seems like it should be obvious, but it's actually a lot harder than it seems. In any profession, there tends to be more to do than there is time in the day. Teachers are certainly not alone in wishing that there were more hours in a day, but teachers have the unique issue of essentially having to put on a brand new performance each and every hour. In addition, we get a very short amount of time in each day to both plan each performance and assess the student's mastery of the topic of the performance.

Teaching is very unique, and we are often so busy that the idea of spending some of our planning time in another teacher's classroom can quickly seem counter-intuitive. In theory doing this makes sense. In practice, it makes more sense to grade, to plan, to call parents, and sometimes to beautifully do absolutely nothing but think. This is what being ridiculously busy does - it stifles creativity and growth.

I need to remember that in my own classroom.

Having Michael take over my class today was a great opportunity to watch him teach for an entire day. I was able to give him some feedback and observe him adjust to the various issues that come up while teaching an entire day of classes. He did really well, both from my observation and from chatting with the students as they left class.

Just as important, it was an opportunity to simply observe my students. We get caught up in teaching our own classes that we sometimes do not have the time to just watch. We are problem-solving this or trying to teach that - we forget about some of the quieter students who at times just blend into their surroundings and get their work done. Not that I saw anything truly revolutionary, but I certainly got a chance to notice things about my students that I had either not noticed before or that I simply needed a good reminder.

It'll be interesting to think about this in a week. Will I teach any differently in the next week? Will I pay closer attention to certain, quieter students? Will I pay closer attention to body language signs that I saw today?

All good questions. I'll let you know what comes of it!

And just in case you missed it in the previous post, here's a really awesome video I made with my group answering the question, "What is learning?" in kind of a fun way!


Until next time - onwards! 

Thanks for reading this blog! I hope you'll consider taking a moment to comment below and turn this into a conversation. Whether you are an educator or not, we have all had common experiences with education both good and bad. I want to hear what you think! 

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