On Saturday, I was reading a post by a fellow NJED principal Bruce Arcurio titled Unannounced Observations. As I read the post, I thought about my experiences with the new observational tool. Bruce and I had a twitter discussion after reading and it inspired me to write this post.
In his post, he joked about how his teachers have become accustomed to this new process because they see him walking around with his device. I am sure my teachers notice the same thing, and through devices or phones, the word spreads. With all joking aside, Bruce discussed how many cool activities he has observed. This is beauty of this new process. This is the first time in our teachers’ careers that they have been formally observed without warning. Fortunately, and to the credit of these professionals, they have produced such great outcomes. It has also kept the administrators on their toes. We are learning more about deadlines, organization, and most importantly flexibility.
I sympathize with the supervisors in this process. Most supervisors are not stationed in the schools in which they observe. They need to drive over to the school, go to the classroom, and (fingers crossed) observe a lesson. Many times this is far from a smooth process. Supervisors have been faced with teachers who had emergencies, lock-downs, fire drills, field trips, assemblies, Model Assessments, Universal Sweeps, switched lunch schedule, or even an impromptu recess because the temperature is finally above freezing.
In my opinion, learning has no schedule, and can be difficult to quantify in a 20, or 40 minute increment. Learning is the ongoing process and accumulation of stimuli that transcends time. With that said, it can be difficult (not impossible) to ensure that the new observation tool is implemented with fidelity. We no longer know what we are going to see (or when). This is the beauty and the challenge as we continue on this path.