As an educator, I value feedback, especially from other professionals who share my core teaching beliefs. I joined the faculty of my current school because of the mission based around student-centered teaching focusing on self-advocacy and meaningful independence for every student regardless of perceived intellectual ability. Because of negative experiences I’ve had with observers in my room at other schools, having visitors in my room makes me anxious. I feel judged. I automatically see the behaviors, the missing symbol supports, the student(s) not fully engaged in an academic activity at that exact moment: all the things I would have been criticized for at other placements. And I want to say, “I know all that! We’re working on it! Here’s what I *actually* want feedback on…” And that’s when I heard about #ObserveMe.
#ObserveMe was started by Robert Kaplinsky last year. (I think this is the original post here.) I first saw it on twitter. (Of course, it’s where I find everything new and cool in education!) The idea is simple: post a note on your classroom door inviting your colleagues in to observe and telling them what areas you would like feedback on. It feels to me like exactly the answer I’ve been looking for. The visuals I put on my door already tell someone entering a lot about what I value as a teacher: that’s intentional. My hope is that adding this sign will help to structure those interactions so I can finally get the feedback I am looking for to grow my practice.
The text of my #ObserveMe sign is below:
We are all learners in Room 1. Please come in and observe me. I would like constructive feedback on the following goals:
Are students making authentic choices?
Are we honoring all student communication (not just symbolic language)?
Are teacher demands clearly rooted in meaningful instructional context?
How could we change the instructional demand to increase learner independence?
Are we giving clear feedback to students that gives them a clear picture of the progress they are making toward their goal?
How can we make student goals and the path to achieve them more concrete and visual for our learners to understand?
Please #ObserveMe and help our learning community grow!