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I had my post-observation conference with my administrator this afternoon during my planning period. I appreciate the process my assessing administrator follows. Part protocol, part personality, we process each piece of the teacher evaluation pie together, each piece is a conversation before the administrator hits the submit and send button. Those conversations say that I am valued and respected as a professional. I appreciate that. I wish that every teacher had such an opportunity during their evaluations.
Teachers have post observation reflection questions to answer prior to the conference (I pasted mine below if you're interested--it's not paragraphed, beware. The program we submit it to erases all formatting so I didn't bother with it). If we submit what we write too late, or just before the conference, administrators may not have time to read what we submit prior to or after the actual observation. They may skim the writing because time is about to swallow them whole. I appreciate that my administrator reads mine aloud to discuss it and uses it in the administrator forms submitted.
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I too am pursued by that whale. Even so, I'm learning to trust in the process. I am learning to take the time to put effort into the writing (before and after) and make it work, make it useful, so that what I do counts. That means that, yes, I spent two hours yesterday writing a reflection on the lesson when what I felt like I needed to do was input grades into the computer or work with student poets.
Reflecting on a lesson that has been observed is a lot like writing for National Boards. I have to really think about what I did, what I saw students do and how I assess their progress or lack of it. Pictures help me remember as do artifacts (exit slips from students or notes). Picking apart one lesson is tedious. I prefer a longer learner cycle, but I can do it. I did.
As a educator, discussing my practice is not optional. I must be able to analyze, evaluate, justify and synthesize what happens in my classroom. If I can't offer a rationale or reflect on my teaching and learning, I am not living up to what it means to be a professional. Professionals work at something to develop their own expertise. They read. They study. They learn--alone and in community. They seek out opportunities to demonstrate learning or solve challenges.
My administrator may assess me on a checklist or using the latest rubric or model, but my learning and my performance as a teacher is not up to my administrator nor my principal nor my teacher friend. My practice, is up to me.