Being in my final year of probation as a new teacher means that I will only be observed once officially this year. That is not to say that I have not been observed on other occasions, but only once will I have to fill out the paperwork and set up a formal meeting to discuss the results and feedback of this observation. So I wonder, how will my classroom be different than previous observations to the casual observer?
1. I will not stand at the front of the room. In fact, the front of the room changes at all times so that students never feel pushed to the back or to the side.
2. I will move more. Since there is no front of the room, I move more around, engaging students in small discussions, keeping an eye on behavior, as well as trying to facilitate more interaction through my own movement.
3. I will not do all of the talking. This year it is not about me but about the students, so I need to facilitate and then get out of the way.
4. Students will move around. I was never a fan of desks, they stifled me as a child and I still lie down on a couch to read a book rather than sit, so my classroom reflects that; students should be able to be in positions where they can access learning the best way possible, whatever that may look like.
5. Students will have a voice. No longer am I the end all of all information so while I know the path my lesson will take, how we get there and what we end up exploring more deeply may change.
6. The end results may differ. Before the students would all produce a single product to show off their knowledge, now I realize that students can show learning through many different methods and will therefore be open to all of these.
7. Evaluation will be ongoing and never combined with a percentage or letter grade. While I may still have to produce a letter grade for my trimester report cards, these will not be part of our learning. Grades interfere with the real goal of the lesson which is to learn, not to receive an A or score 100%.
8. Mistakes will be encouraged. Instead of prepping my students beforehand to ensure no mistakes will be made by them or I, we will simply explore together and that means also embracing any mistakes or mishaps that come up naturally. After all, life mostly consists of lucky mishaps that shape our decisions and thus creates our futures.
9. Homework will not be assigned. Learning is extended beyond our classroom hours through discussion, blogging or reflection. Worksheets or packets are rarely used to practice a skill and instead students are encouraged to enjoy time outside of school so that they may be more productive learners in school.
10. This will not be a dog and pony show. We often discuss how an observation can become a stilted affair, created solely for the purpose of observation. I would rather have my observation be unscheduled or a surprise so that the real lesson can be viewed and discussed. I know I will be prepared for it since I have to be prepared every day to teach.
How different will your classroom be this year?