I had my graded observation this week, and I thought I’d blog about it. As you do.
Two things, first, however. This isn’t about graded observation. No, I’ve blogged about this before, and am working on another post at the moment, and am saving all my controversiality up for that. Secondly, this isn’t a bitch about the grade I got, or the quality of the feedback. That would definitely be unprofessional, and anyway it was useful feedback and a fair enough assessment. For the record, the lesson was a 2. Quite respectable.
No this post is about feedback, and mainly about the mistake that I, and so many other people to whom I have given feedback, have made. This is the one where you dwell on one minute, one micro second, one single event in the whole lesson which you are convinced has completely ruined the entire observation and you will shortly be facing a grade 4 and the general unpleasantness which follows, but, as it transpires, is a minor and not terribly important issue.
In this lesson, at about 9.45 Monday morning, it was the sudden brain death brought on by trying to turn She said, “Is he really?” into reported speech. I fumbled and dropped the ball, was about to get the students to do something else, when, fortunately, gloriously, got saved by a student coming up with the flawed (in the context) but grammatically logical She asked if he really was. The lesson was saved, but I took it as a point of personal pride that I had neither the grammatical knowledge immediately on tap, nor the simple common sense to have read up on the grammar a little before the lesson to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything.
Of course, during the feedback, this point was mentioned only briefly, in passing, as a minor issue. There were other things I could have done better but this was not the thing. Now I suspect that the gap it caused in the lesson may have been a contributory factor to the grade, but it was only tiny, so all this boiled down to pride. And so I massaged the niggle until it became the world’s biggest teaching disaster. When I’ve seen other people do this it’s usually about something like the technology (“the IWB broke!”) or some other factor the teacher had no control over, and I’ve always had to get them to forget that point and focus on the real issues. However. This can be quite hard, so here, retrospectively, is my advice to me for last Monday lunchtime.
Chill. Take a time out. Stop thinking about it. No, really stop it. Clear your mind, get drunk, read a book, ride a camel, write a lengthy paper on Hungarian verb declension, run a marathon, have sex, whatever, just get your mind off it. You can do nothing about it anyway until the feedback. Don’t gripe on Facebook, don’t bore your loved ones with your continual repetitions of the complete balls up you made, don’t tweet things like “schoolboy error!” And so on. Just stop it. Now.
Once you have got it out of your mind, then reassess everything else apart from that bit. Reassess blow by blow. Use your lesson plan as a guide and think “how did this bit go?” “What actually happened anyway?” “Was it any good, and could it have been better?” But don’t, whatever you do, don’t look at that bit which you were dwelling on.
Now you are ready to look at that bit, so do, and be honest. What was the actual effect of that bit on the learning in the lesson? Did, in fact, anyone actually notice apart from you? If the answer to the latter is “nobody, really” then shut up.
Now, if someone could just find a time machine, I might save a couple of bored ears…