Sunday, February 04, 2007

Anne Frank, Socratic Seminars and an Observation

As a tenured teacher, I'm observed every other year. I've always had good reviews, but I still get nervous. I always feel like I'm going to get found out. About what, I don't know, but the nerves shake me up.

It doesn't help that Ms. Vice Principal who is observing me this year has a reputation for ripping new assholes for people. I've not heard of a single good observation review by her, ever.

That doesn't make me feel too comfortable. She and I are okay with each other, but have a hard time communicating. We just don't... you know... mesh. I don't get her, she doesn't get me.

She comes from an elementary background and refers back to it quite often. I don't believe she's gotten the hang just yet of developing junior high curriculum. Or discipline.

I like to take care of my own problems, know what I mean? I don't send kids to the office unless they've come to blows, and I don't write referrals unless it's the last option. Mr. Principal and Mr. Vice Principal both know this, and respect this fact. If I do send a kid up, it's serious.

Ms. Principal doesn't quite get it. She will have a "talk" with a boy who has thrown a lemon at a girl's head in the middle of my class. She will give one day of trash-pick-up (a lunchtime consequence; it comes before detention) for a student's seventh time of taking another's pencil/backpack/eraser... you get it.


So, tonight, in the next few hours, I need to have the next two weeks of The Diary of Anne Frank planned out, set up the Socratic Seminar for the day of observation, write up a lesson plan (what the hell is that any more?) listing each California State English Standard I'm addressing, and how it will be measured for assessment, and oh yeah, finish grading about 30 essays.



Tim said...

Overall, I believe that there is a point to what you have to say about the principal, especially since I would like to teach at the Junior High level. Middle school (Junior High) students have a completely different mentality than that of elementary students and teachers need to treat both groups differently. Junior High kids start to think for themselves, to have opinions, and wanting to people to treat them as if they are older. My mom teaches this age group and I have heard stories and have seen this behavior first hand when I was a substitute teacher at the school. In order to be successful and effective teaching this age group, I will need to have an understanding of how to deal with my students, both in and out of the classroom, as well as with discipline.

dmpawli said...

I know at my past school, there was a principal that resembles yours. She came from an elementary school and jumped into a High School Admin. job as soon as she could. She also taught choir while she was at the elementary school so she really did not have much in terms of her traditional classroom background as the arts are a whole different beast to teach.

She would tear teachers apart and give them terrible evaluations. She would attack their discipline techniques and even knock down teachers who were using technology in the roo, (that's a whole other conversation).

What I felt like pointing out to her is that she only taught elementary choir for three years then went into administration. If she wanted to offer something to teachers she should have done it where she was strong, which for the record was not teaching.

Maybe it would be a good idea to have schools start to implement a peer-evalutation system. I know that might be a little strange to have someone in the same department as you evaluate you but it really could offer some great insights and even promote team teaching and inter-disciplinary studies in the classroom.

Of course, this is an ideal...and our system is not.

Good luck with your eval.

MyOpinion said...

"I've always had good reviews." This was a quote from you, and the one I believe you should concentrate on most. Forget the but... Everyone gets nervous because it is human nature. Let the fact that you have always had good reviews ease your nerves. You have tenure so you obviously have been doing just fine so far! As for the different styles in disciplining students, I think you should try to accept it for what it is. You think it is silly to get a student in trouble for every little thing. But maybe "Ms. Principle" is simply trying to teach the boy who throws a lemon at a girls head some manners. Jr. High kids are at an impressionable age and she may just want to warn him now, so that he isn't throwing lemons at girl's heads in high school. Do what works for you, and understand that if you have a positive review of yourself as a teacher, that is the review that matters most!

Anonymous said...

I love the blog that you have. I was wondering if you would link my blog to yours and in return I would do the same for your blog. If you want to, my site name is American Legends and the URL is:

If you want to do this just go to my blog and in one of the comments just write your blog name and the URL and I will add it to my site.


"Ms. Cornelius" said...

It's kind of funny. I don't care when the principal walks in, I don't care how long he stays. It's all good. Most kids will kill themselves trying to make you lok good-- even your mischievous ones.

But your problem is that this person has no grasp on what it's like to teach junior high or middle school. Why is "experience" not a primary concern when hiring administrators?

Good luck. You obviously know your stuff. That should help you feel better.

John Tenny, Ph.D. said...

Me: taught elem and middle school; taught and directed teacher ed program for 20 years; observed hundreds of classrooms, most outside my area of expertise; failed retirement and wrote software for observations - because....
I found that when observing outside of my expertise, my 'judgments' and 'suggestions' were pretty much worthless, so I evolved a system of focused observations and data collection that provided the teacher/student teacher with a data based window into their classroom. It worked great and I've moved that into the technology world.
There's a big difference when the principal says "Is this what you thought was happening in your classroom?" as opposed to "In my opinion, you should..." Objective data can empower the teacher to see how they teach/manage/etc without the power dynamic involved in judgments. More about all this at my site/blog:

The real story said...

off the mark wanted to mention a new dice game that has peeked the kids interest. Avoid the 10! requires some brain work as some of the dice are special so the probability lessons are much more fun than with normal dice. I see it on Amazon...

think it will help in many situation and is fun.

sexy said...


Anonymous said...

In this era of web 2.0, we easily get nice & updated information for research purposes... I'd definitely appreciate the work of the said blog owner... Thanks!

written term papers-Term Paper Samples

Anonymous said...

In this era of web 2.0, we easily get nice & updated information for research purposes... I'd definitely appreciate the work of the said blog owner... Thanks!

written term papers-Term Paper Samples

Frank and Lisa 2010. said...

I just stumbled across your blog looking for ideas to do class blogging.

You didn't follow up on that observation, how did it go?