Whenever I knew I was formally going to be observed, I always made sure that I “primed the pump” on the story or whatever I was doing on the day of the observation to make sure that the kids were comfortable (not brand new to) the subject matter for the class.
I wanted them not too prepared, so that the next day they would not be bored, but I did want them familiar in a light way (wanting to know more) with the material.
Doing that “prep class” allowed me on the day of the observation to zip through (after the Fred Choice Reading first part of class) a nice expansion on what we had prepared the day before.
Then after that discussion during the formal observation – which was stronger because of the prep work done the day before – for the rest of the class all I had to do was the first seven steps of the reading options, which are one heck of a “solid” way to be observed.
Then as an exit ticket I just gave them an easy quick quiz on the material, one that I had written up the day before. (I don’t rely on a quiz writer for a formal observation – too risky.)
So the distribution of instruction minutes in the observation looks like this:
1. FCR with me circulating around talking w the kids in L1 about their book, making connections, smiling, letting the observer check her cell phone for ten minutes so that she can give me and my students her full attention once the class starts. (10′)
2. Review of the story or the image or whatever input material you have already prepped for on the day before. Just be sure that the kids have not yet reached any point of boredom with the material on the day before. (To make sure they are “fresh” w the material, in the “prep class” the day before I generally only give 15-20 min. to it and not the whole class period. – I want their intellectual appetites whetted, but not oversaturated.) (10′-15′)
3. Reading Options steps 1-7 (20′-25′). This is the bulk of the observation when, since the kids are so prepared, you get to really show off your teaching. (With block classes, just extend step 2 above a little and mainly go deeper into the reading options, using options like Textivate to cover the tech piece, etc. There are 20 really good options, so why not use them? They give you steady rails to go down during the observation. Plus, the more options you use, the more chances you have of hitting all the learning modalities (getting all the boxes checked) during the observation.
4. Exit ticket in the form of the quiz you wrote the day before. (5′)
Just remember that the most important thing about being observed is to have prepared kids and be prepared yourself with a text that they know in a basic way with whetted appetites and curiosity to know more. When your class is thus prepared for the observation, and you have the sequence of things that you will do all planned out as per the suggested use of time sequence above, you will feel as if you are on solid ground for the observation, ready to show off your craft. Smile a lot, include the observer in the second armchair (Hub C) if they are willing, and enjoy yourself! Life is too short to sweat being observed by people who in most cases don’t even know what they are looking at.