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Teacher Observations: How do we do them virtually?

Teacher Observations: How do we do them virtually?

October 19, 2020

Dear WinkWorld Readers,

If you are not in a classroom very often, you may not realize it, but teacher observations are always a part of even the most active classroom.  Often times, it feels like teachers are teaching in a fishbowl with everyone peaking in to see what is happening.  Classrooms are often busy places with active learning. The drawing below (free from Pixaby for educational purposes) captures what classrooms used to look something like.

Often times, there is someone with a clip board standing quietly in the back of the room taking notes for an evaluation or a peer review.

Now classrooms may look like the image posted below.

My question is: How in the world do principals, supervisors, professors do their teacher evaluations? 

My friend/colleague, Dr. Chris Roe, recently conducted an observation of a teacher, Carol, who is now teaching virtually. Dr. Roe spent the morning in Carol’s TV room in her home (a.k.a., classroom).  Carol’s computer sat on a TV tray and projected on her big screen TV, where 26 second-graders’ faces were looking at the teacher.  Dr. Roe sat off to the side in her living room, as he observed and took notes.

As Chris told me, after his observation:

What a tremendous amount of effort went into this session. As an observer and former school administrator, I took notes as I would have if I were in a teacher’s brick and mortar classroom. I needed to see what teachers are going through right now so that I could better respond to new teachers’ concerns and questions regarding virtual instruction. The teachers and mentors I support in the teacher induction program are all amazing, stressed, and persevering.
My three focus areas were:
1. Instruction
2 Classroom Management
3. Technology.
Chris continued:
There is A LOT of stress on the teachers, families and especially students surrounding virtual instruction. Carol spends hours planning for lessons that take students minutes to complete. She meets with her special needs students after class for an hour (most times with parents/grands) who struggle to understand technology.
Behind the scenes, she has two teens at home, learning virtually as well. They come in for lunch, breaks, etc. while she is teaching. Her hyperactive dog was pacing the room. At one point, I made the mistake of throwing the ball for the dog, and he chased it, knocking the computer off the stand.
At the end of the session, Carol was exhausted. The students were wiped out.  Teachers are struggling, stressed, and they want to teach well so that all students learn well, but it its hard.
Thank you, Dr. Chris Roe, for sharing with us! 
I’m sure school personnel everywhere are struggling with the notion of how to conduct teacher observations/evaluation.  Dr. Roe is Director of Induction for the School of Education at Sacramento County Office of Education.
While Chris and I were talking about this, we noticed on a professional listserv another professor, Dr. Susan Morris-Rutledge of California University of Pennsylvania, who was also concerned with the same issue. Dr. Morris-Rutledge, is an associate professor in the Department of Secondary Education & Administrative Leadership. If any of you need to talk with either of them, please just use the Messages area below this blog post for your initial connection. Each of them can respond to you.
Teaching and learning is always about human connection.



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