This one’s all about teaching (don’t worry I’ll get back to the fun stuff this weekend!)
The thing about inspections, evaluations, all that formal stuff that drives teachers insane is that, for the most part, I don’t think they do much in the way of improving what we do —- and they certainly don’t gauge learning in its proper perspective (although the threat of it does motivate us to do the stuff we hate, which sometimes works —- so there’s your plus). I literally blew two weekends and countless nights researching, writing resources, over preparing and basically killing myself over being ready for the big outsider evaluation this week. My school has been freaking out over this for the past three weeks —- to the point where my lesson plans were actually read by an administrator. I’m new, which is why this happened, and I’m actually (now) glad she did because she gave me valuable feedback, which helped me get a better grip on what I’m supposed to do.
However, to put it mildly, I have been stressed the fuck out —- to the point of imploding. And, then, I got evaluated in my worst class, later in the day —- anyone who teaches here knows late in the day is pretty much a curse. Heck anyone who teaches anywhere in the world knows the later classes are the hardest (student and teacher brains are mush by then)—- everyone except evaluators who think perfection is where it’s at 24/7. It was also during my second lesson with these girls —- the first one didn’t go so well, so I decided we were going to go at it again because they needed to get this.
The class before mine ended late, so I was behind schedule when the inspector walked in. But, you see something magical happened. The kids shut up and worked —- because an evaluator was in there —- and somewhere along their faking it they discovered that holy shit they’re learning something. I got so into our little learning groove that I forgot all about the white British lady hovering over my kids and writing everything down. Um, I may have even blown her off in the end when she turned to say something to me, and I cut her off with a “thank you for coming in today” and then went back to my closing thoughts with the kids. Now, I’m pretty sure I didn’t earn high marks —- or whatever it is they call the whole evaluation thing —- but I left happy.
I had that class first and last periods today, and I just knew they’d be bouncing off the walls. They were a little, but they settled down quicker than they ever did before —- and this time it was just us. I got the morning lesson going, and it flowed smoothly. Then I broke a major rule. I let the rest of the class work on their own —- knowing most of them would goof off —- while I sat with my worst table. The lowest girl, who never, ever does anything actually spoke to me in English during the starter, so I figured it was now or never to hook that child. I sat and listened to every one of these girls read a paragraph out loud, which is really difficult for them since they don’t understand most of what I say or give them. I coached at first, but then I stopped and the other girls pitched in to help whomever was struggling —- that’s a big ole Eureka! in teacher land. Here’s the kicker they were crazy loud when I walked in 9th period, BUT it only took me three times to repeat “my hand is up” and their little butts were in their chairs ready to go, and we had an even better lesson. I shit you not I almost cried.
Now, by evaluation standards I probably sucked. And, my classes in between didn’t go all that great (the kids are just done with the stress of outsiders inspecting their campus and all the rules that go with it), BUT I flipping reached the unreachables and for THAT I am grateful.
I’m sure it’ll all go crazy again next week, but the whole point of my posting today is that I may still suck, but I’m happy because I actually did some real teacherly things this week. I am such a nut job that THIS is what gives me joy. I have two more days of inspection hell to survive, and I don’t give a flying assessment what the inspectors have to say because we may not be any where near our targets, but my girls are learning. So pooh on them and their clipboards. Okay maybe I’m being a little harsh — maybe the whole inspection thing did help me, but shhhh I need to be mad at them for all the stress that drove me over the edge to a place not so dire after all.