There’s nothing more nerve-wracking than being formally observed by your principal or another administrator. Thoughts of everything that can go wrong flood your brain. Do you have all the materials you need? Will the students cooperate? You start sweating before you even arrive at school. Keep reading to find out how to ROCK your formal teaching observation.
Formal Teaching Observation Fears
After 11 years of teaching, you’d think formal observations wouldn’t bother me anymore. Not true! Luckily, I had a 5-year period where I wasn’t formally observed. I used that time to learn exactly what my principal wanted. If she liked a new program, I tried it in my classroom. If she made a suggestion, I implemented it immediately. I knew that she would be impressed this year when she formally observed me.
No such luck! At the end of the summer, my principal of 5 years took a position at the administration building, and I got a brand new principal. I had no idea what she expected or what she envisioned as the perfect lesson. I was kind of hoping that she would be too overwhelmed with all of her other responsibilities to remember that I was supposed to be formally observed.
Then, I got the email. Please see the secretary to schedule a time for your observation. NOOOO! I started to panic. What if she didn’t like the lesson? What if I made a bad first impression? The questions and doubts started, and I needed a way to calm my fears.
Even though I had a new principal, there was one thing that stayed the same. Every principal in my district uses a rubric based on the Danielson Framework during formal teaching observations. If I could do everything on the rubric, my principal would have to be impressed. The only problem was that the rubric was kind of wordy, and I work better with checklists. Therefore, I turned the rubric into a checklist of all the important things I needed to do. If I could check off each of the items on the checklist, my observation would have to go well. You can download a copy of my checklist at the bottom of this post.
How to Use the Checklist
As I planned my lesson, I kept my checklist nearby. One of the big themes of the Danielson rubric is differentiation. In many of the areas, meeting individual student needs is required. To meet this requirement, I chose to do a guided math lesson, since the groups are all differentiated to meet student needs. I focused on the “Planning” and “Instruction” sections as I wrote my lesson plan at home. I checked off each item as I added it to my lesson plan.
Next, I took my checklist with me to school as I set up for my lesson. I focused on the “Classroom” section and made sure my “I can” statement was displayed and all of my materials were ready. By that point, the first three sections had check marks. The last section, “Professional Responsibilities,” is filled with things you should be doing all year.
Even if your school doesn’t use the Danielson rubric for formal teaching observations, this checklist will still help you make sure your lesson will be fantastic. All of the items on the checklist are best practices and things principals and administrators are looking for in your lesson.
With each check mark I added to the checklist, a little bit of anxiety went away. On the morning of my lesson, I was able to check off the last few items. I added all of my differentiated activities to my centers. I knew all the parts of my lesson and felt confident. The butterflies in my stomach were still there, but I wasn’t nearly as nervous as I had been for observations in the past.
At our post-observation meeting, my principal shared how impressed she was with how I met each of the expectations on the Danielson rubric. She was especially impressed with the flow of the lesson and the differentiation, because I used guided math.
Download the checklist below and start planning your lesson. If you have any questions about the checklist or want to talk about your lesson, just leave a comment or email me at [email protected] You can also check out my items on Teachers Pay Teachers. Soon, I’ll be adding some guided math lessons that have worked really well in my classroom.
Follow the checklist, and you’ll be able to ROCK your formal teaching observation. I can’t wait to hear how it goes!
Download the Observation Checklist
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