Somebody’s Watching Me

Week before last, I felt under the weather and unable to pull myself together to write.  But the other reason why I took a week off from writing was that I was swamped with extra work because we had observation week at school.  I also had a side project going that I’ll tell you about on Friday.

I told you already, my school doesn’t just deliver language lessons; we add value to our students.  Observation week is part of that added value.  What happened was, parents were scheduled to come in and watch us teach their children.  The idea was that they not interfere in the classes but sit quietly in the classroom and observe our methods and our manner with their children.  They would then complete feedback forms.  That’s how things unfolded for most of us but I heard a horror story from one teacher about a dad who stood over his ten year old son for almost the entire class correcting everything the boy said and wrote.  Suddenly, she understood why that child sometimes acts the way he does in class.  As a teacher, I’m now coming to appreciate more than ever before that most problems with children begin at home.

Anyway, the parents’ feedback forms are being collated so that each teacher will receive summarised feedback on how parents felt about what they observed.

A few teachers were nervous.  Some planned special lessons.  I did neither of those things.  First of all, children can spot a fake a mile away and I believe that part of the reason why my kids like me and my classes is because I’m straight up with them.  I’m myself, I don’t put on an act when I walk into my classroom and I don’t talk down to them.  So turning on extra charm especially for the visiting parents would confuse my kids.  Also, I’m so far beyond trying to impress people that it wasn’t even an option for me.

But I still had extra work to do because observation week also happened to coincide with test week for some of my classes.  That meant that for the classes with scheduled tests where parents were also scheduled to observe, I had to move forward one lesson in the curriculum so that parents could observe a regular class.  That meant extra lesson planning and therefore extra effort on my part.  So, for example, there were some cases where I normally would have delivered the same lesson to two different classes on a given day.  However, because one lesson was observed but the other wasn’t I had to prepare two different lessons – one their usual test lesson (which still includes planning and lesson delivery, not just handing out and collecting test papers!) and the other a regular lesson.

I wasn’t nervous about parents sitting in on my classes because that already happens from time to time, especially with my little ones.  I have one group of little ones with a child who has separation anxiety right now; she suffered an accident a couple of months ago and has clung to her parents ever since.  So her mom is almost always sitting in the classroom or just outside with the door wide open.  I also have a group of hearing impaired students and a couple of moms have sat in on those classes, too.  I’m used to being observed.  The way I looked at observation week, it was just my usual observed classes but on a larger scale.

My classes weren’t swamped with visiting parents but I only had one scheduled observation class for which no parents turned up.  For that class, there’s one mom who always sits outside the classroom and watches movies or whatever on her iPad while her son is in class for an hour and a half.  I thought for sure that she would join us in the classroom for observation.  Nope, she didn’t.  I think she likes that hour and a half of me-time that she gets during my class and apparently she’s happy enough with her son’s comfort and achievement levels in my class that her me-time was not worth giving up.  I feel you, sister!  So overall for all of my classes, my extra planning and preparation was not in vain.  Also, based on an informal check in with the person collecting the parental feedback forms, my students’ parents are happy with my classes and with their children’s progress.  I scored almost all fives!  Hoo-yah!

This week, there are more observations but this time for what we call combination classes.  Those are classes that are shared between two teachers, usually a foreign teacher and a local teacher.  At our school, students come to class twice a week.  For combination classes, I deliver the lesson on one of those days and another teacher delivers the lesson on the other day.  Combination class.  Parents are scheduled to observe all of the combination classes.  I have three of that type of class and two of those observations were today.  Again, no worries.  I just did what I usually do and God took care of the rest.

This week is also report card week.  All of those progress tests that I gave last week weren’t for fun or show.  I’ll spend this week doing regular classes but also writing reports for my students, a first for me as a new teacher.  So this will also be a busy week but I’ve organised myself in such a way that I shouldn’t feel swamped by it all.  And even as busy as these past couple of weeks has been and as busy as this week will be, I’m satisfied that I’ve been excellent in this work that God has given me to do.

I know that there is nothing better than for them to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labour – it is the gift of God.  Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 (NASB)

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