When Being Observed 1

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13 thoughts on “When Being Observed 1”

  1. Kate,

    Give this form to the administrators when they arrive: http://www.brycehedstrom.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Checklist-for-Observing-a-FL-Classroom.pdf

    It spells out what to look for and it is slanted towards TPRS. Use the form or make an adaptation that matches what you do and also aligns with The ACTFL standards, state standards, good practice, higher level thinking and good classroom management. Use the form or create an adapted version of it that matches what you do.

    They need guidance, so give it to them. This has worked like a dream for me.

  2. Dictée! I forgot about that! Has anyone done dictée with a beginning class when being observed in order to appear more “classroomy”? I’m getting observed by an AP in a French 1 class for the first time tomorrow since starting TPRS/CI. Dictée isn’t something I would do with my French 1’s if I wasn’t being observed, but I want my classroom to be as orderly as possible tomorrow, which I feel like a dictée could accomplish -especially if they are being excessively chatty, which they were today. Is that a bad idea -i.e. could dictée (with the error correction involved) be harmful for beginners? I know this AP will want to see a few “activities” going on during the period, so I’m trying to have more “stuff” going on than I normally would. Here is my rough idea for my observation tomorrow (90 minute class).

    1) Recap (re-ask) a story in progress and then finish the third scene (about 40 minutes). Or just end the story at scene 2 if it the kids get out of hand and go straight to:
    2) Choral translation of the story off the projector, because this class did a rockin’ translation for our last story.
    3) Maybe see if anyone wants to volunteer to retell the story using my artist’s illustration projected on the board (Just to showcase a student of two while the AP is there) If no one volunteers, just move on…
    4) Maybe introduce the concept of a dictée to them and have them try one for this story
    5) Do a quick quiz somewhere in all of this, probably at the very end of class.

    I would greatly appreciate any feeback!

  3. Dictees are generally good for quieting down a class, and they certainly seem more “rigorous” or classroomy to outsiders. I would just be worried about trying anything that I have never done before with them. If they know the rules of the dictee it is a generally safe bet, but the 1st time….? I dunno. I would stay away simply because most likely they will have trouble following the directions (at least mine do) or not shouting out to wait another second for them, or some other type of BS that ruins the flow of it.

  4. Thanks David and Ben. Good call on not trying something brand new on an observation day. I have no idea why I thought that was a good idea. And I really envisioned that going well too… Which it definitely would not have. Why in the world was I really about to do that tomorrow during an observation? I really need to check which version of reality I’m living in.

  5. Dictee takes the strongest hand style of training we do in anything. One little peep out of them and it cascades into a free for all. People don’t get that. I’m glad this came up. The rule is – in dictee, not a word, ever, from them. They can handle that for ten minutes.

    1. I support Ben fully on this. Usually I am able to impress the class sufficiently with the seriousness of the process that there is no problem. (I express clearly that I will not deviate from the reading of the text – no further repetition, no accommodation for “I didn’t get that!”, nothing but the prescribed reading of the text.) However, I have had classes that were unable to do this on the first dictation (Can anyone say “fifth period”?). I stopped, instructed everyone to throw away that paper and prepare another one. Then I went over the procedure again, and we started over with a different dictation. You generally have to do this only once.

  6. Just in case anyone missed this:

    …I stopped, instructed everyone to throw away that paper and prepare another one. Then I went over the procedure again, and we started over with a different dictation….

    I think we have some PLC gold right there. Just start over. This will work for those failing at dictee, which is most people who don’t get the total silence thing. Thanks Robert!

  7. Sorry to distract from the flow of talk on the new rubrics, but I have to share some good news from an observation today -especially some great reactions from an administrator.

    I’ve had several good days since I started using CI, but today tops them all. Never before have I felt so elated after a day at school. Except after the last day of school last year, but that was for completely different reasons.

    My observation today was of a French 1 class. They are 32 kids, in about their 10th week of TPRS/CI instruction and they are FULLLLLL of energy, which we are getting better and better at rallying into something productive (much slower than I would prefer, but I’m grateful nonetheless). This period is split, so we have class for 45 minutes, kids go to lunch, then they come back for 45 more minutes of class…a nice built-in brain break every day (Or just a wild rampage when they come back all sugared/caffeined/hormoned-up from lunch). The AP came in today about 10 minutes into the start of class. We were just getting started on asking the third scene of a story we had started two days ago.

    The script is the one Ben came up with on a train (?) and posted on here a few days ago [is sitting across from / looks like / is trying to / one must not]. I was a little apprehensive with the AP seeing this story becuase the kids made the main character “Herbert le Pervert” and another character was “Chester Mo Lester” (really did not want to allow that last one and probably shouldn’t have, but the whole class practically demanded we keep it and I made them keep everything else PG). By the way, those 4 structures are awesome -so much fun to be had with those.

    Our agenda was:
    1) finish asking scene 3 of the story we started two days ago
    2) choral translation of story text off smartboard
    3) class retell prompted by my questions, using artist’s illustration on old school overhead projector
    4) take volunteers for individual retells, either whole story or as many scenes as you want. Skip this step if no one wants to volunteer. (Individual retells only added today to show the kids off to the AP and sell this method)
    5) Quick Quiz

    When the kids left for lunch, the AP commented “This is so entertaining, but I wish I could understand French.” Also, he said he loves the checklist and that he’s going to steal it (Thanks Bryce Hedstrom and Susan Gross! and Robert, I thought my AP would like to have a bunch of things to check off, but I do like the conciseness of your checklist and plan on using it as a checking tool for myself). Then he asked what level of French it was and I told him French 1. He said, “Wait, this is French 1? Really?” Ha…I can’t believe it myself (to bring myself back to the ground, today was an unusually shining class). He also said “It’s interesting -the class feels very casual, but you obviously have a lot of structure in place and the kids know what’s expected of them.” Well, all of the credit for that comment goes to you all on this PLC. He then asked about storytelling, which he seemed very interested in, and I said it’s something that a lot of WL teachers around the world are using and that I found out about it through an online community. I’ll be telling him about “Ben Slavic’s PLC”, TPRS/CI, Krashen, and anything else he wants to know about during my post-conference next week. I have some preparation to do!

    The best part is, the AP said he wanted to come back and watch the second half of class after lunch if he could make it. What?! We had just finished choral translation when the AP made it back. Then we did a class retell/Q+A tpye thing prompted by my questions, with the illustration. That flowed very nicely and took quite a while becuase I asked a lot of questions. Then I asked for individual retells of the whole story or as much as they wanted to do. I asked several times, becuase I knew that several kids would be able to do it alone. Finally, TJ raised his hand to volunteer. He said two or three sentences with PERFECT pronunciation, flow, and confidence, and asked if he should continue. I very enthusiastically said “Oui, exact! Très bien! Continue!” He kept on trucking and the kids got AMAZINGLY still. Before I knew it, he had beautifully retold the entire story. I couldn’t help but have a huge smile on my face. But my favorite part is this: right before he got to the end, I was getting ready to ask the kids to applaud for 10 seconds, but before he even finished his last word my whole class voluntarily erupted into a huge applause. That unrequested applause for their classmate will ring in my ears for a long time, as well as TJ’s smile while he retold the story and his classmates’ smiles when they applauded. The feeling of happiness, support, and success in the room at that moment is THE highlight of my first two years of teaching. I literally felt like I was dreaming. I thought it would be years before I felt this way during a class. I know not every day will be this thrilling, but I am so grateful for today. The AP left with about 2 minutes to go of class, we squeezed in our Quiz, and then I praised them all as they filed out for such a good class.

    Lastly, the AP sent me an email tonight that says,

    “Fantastic job today. I couldn’t believe it was a French 1 class! I look forward to talking with you next week.”

    I only wish I had a video of some of my classes pre-CI so that you all could understand how absurdly unlikely it is that I would have an email like this from an AP in my inbox.

    A huge thank you to you all. Thank you on behalf of my students. Thank you Ben Slavic. Thank you Stephen Krashen, Blaine Ray, Alfi Kohn, et al. Thanks French people for your great language and sorry for frequently butchering it. Thank you God.

  8. Where is Robert’s rubric? We need that. I need something simpler than the other two as well.

    Dude. I got all crazy over the rubric thing this evening and thought I would quickly check in on your day bc I knew that observation was today.

    I am speechless. You have done this so fast! I don’t think you even know what you have done. You have taken a set of ideas, gone into your classroom with full faith in them with almost no training, no workshops, no nothing, really, and with nothing to lose (that is the main part), and you completely vaulted to a place where you blew the mind of an administrator, yourself, and most importantly your kids.

    What’s the word up the list from badass. Like we can’t say triple badass. There must be some word for this. We should compare this email with those you wrote a month ago. There is no way word to express how I proud I am of you and how important you are and what you have done is.

    Congratulations is not sufficient. This is a major shining star of a field report. I’ll make it into a post and categorize it under the already existing category of greg’s Great Questions (gGQ) so we can keep this story going.

    You dun good boy! Now, what is the AP going to do? Let you go to France? The stars will shine a little less brightly in Durham next year if you leave.

    One more thing. You must let your upper level classes go. This happened in your level 1 class and could never have happened in any of the other levels. Keep that in mind before thinking that those other kids can be rehabilitated. They can’t.

  9. I did not know where to put this, so I will try here:

    Have any of you been observed with the iWalkthrough program ? Our school is adopting it this year and I am just curious as to what it looks for and if it is conducive to TCI.


  10. I object to this initiative. MB you probably see the glass as half full on this, but I see what these people are suggesting as an invasion into our classes. When the observer arrives, the lesson changes.

    I was being observed in a DPS learning lab about four years ago, high pressure and nerve wracking for me. Twelve observing teachers. Ninety minute class. I was just getting the class out of PQA – 45 minutes in – and a Matava story was really getting up off the ground and my principal, a real shit ass, walks in with his AP, also a shit ass and now principal of East High, and plop went the energy in the class. He only came in, I surmise, because there were all those teachers in there and he wanted them to see him. Yeah I’m negative and paranoid, get over it. The air was out of the balloon is all I know.

    And it wasn’t like these clowns knew what they were observing. The AP almost fell asleep. The other dude, an educational car mechanic by trade, smiled away and – one of the observing teachers mentioned it to me as well – sat there draining the energy from everyone.

    I have one question – should a car mechanic be allowed to observe and comment on the work of an airline mechanic. And if so, why?

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