I read an article last week that I didn’t realize was still rolling around in my head. But now that I’ve referenced it two times in two different conversations, I’m wishing that I would have marked it so I could go back and read it. That’s my problem with reading from Twitter links…I can never remember the exact details of where I read something and I can’t go back!
But that’s not the blog post that I intended to write…another time, perhaps.
I had a new (to the school and to teaching) teacher observe me this week as part of our Peer-to-Peer observations that our admin asks us to do. This was my second observation by a Bible teacher, oddly enough. Something about the literature and discussion aspect of English that they wanted to see in action.
My seniors are currently working in book groups (lit. circles) for their final whole-class novel (Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga). One day per week, after a pre-determined number of chapters, we all come back together into a large group and discuss the reading, the controversial issues, the author’s choices, etc. The whole group discussion can be a bit difficult to manage, a bit of a challenge to find a good tempo, and sometimes a bit intimidating for both the teacher and the students.
I told my supervisor that one of things I want to work on this year was clearly communicating to my students…giving concise instructions, providing multiple forms of the instruction (verbal and visual), and following up to make sure they understand. I didn’t say anything to my observer but that was one of the first things mentioned when we met afterward. I felt that I was being careful to have the attention of my students and careful with my word choice and it was nice to see that he recognized that.
Later, during the discussion, I posed a question and then waited for someone to respond. The kids snickered a bit with the deafening silence. I just continued to look around and didn’t make a move to fill the silence. Hello, wait time. But a student did. He filled the silence by asking another question and putting it out to his peers to answer. It was one of those things that I saw as distinctly poor about the discussion. However, when discussing things afterward with the other teacher, that was one of the things that he saw as distinctly positive. That student picked up the conversation and was genuinely curious about what his peers thought about the topic. I saw it as a response to the “awkward pause” while he saw it as a student taking an active interest and role in the discussion.
With the fairly low-pressure nature of a peer-to-peer observation, I could tell that I was very consciously thinking through my words, my body language, my eye contact as I was communicating with my students but without the nerves that come with my supervisor coming in for an observation. A nice change to an observation, indeed.