Monday, February 9, 2009

A Teacher's "Observation" Experience...

A teacher friend of mine had one of her professional observations today by the school principal. It was scheduled for last Thursday, then moved to Friday but happened today.

Getting ready for these observations is time consuming as well as anxiety producing. Waiting, wondering, anticipating - all add anxiety. And today had the added elements of recovering from a bad cold and being the day for the final review prior to the year's standardized writing exam which will take place tomorrow. So the observation moment was stressful but is over. A couple of the 8th grade students in the classroom decided to pass notes during the lesson which only was noticed by the principal observer as it happened. My friend sent a note communicating how upset she was with herself for missing that action which she feared would receive negative review by the observer. I ached for her situation. I remember well those observations when I taught. I know how easy it is to find things that could have gone better and then to fear the reaction and response of the one required to observe and evaluate the performance of many lesson elements.

I responded to my friend with the following comments and insights.

This is so like something that would happen to me. We just don’t see what’s right in front of us – maybe because we are so focused on what we’re doing, thinking, experiencing, whatever… we just are oblivious to more than one thing at a time. It’s a strength and a weakness – we can remain focused despite turbulence around us but we miss the obvious at times. We can attempt to train ourselves to be different but it’s our default mode so when the conditions change, we can’t respond in the moment. So you were looking at the class as a whole and keeping your focus and stride – the note passing happened and you didn’t allow it to disrupt the lesson and the class as a whole. You will be able to address that action with the specific culprits in a timely manner – appropriate for the crime. Your decision in the lesson was to keep your focus on the whole room and your important lesson material which trumped the front row distraction. You can thank the observer for helping you with distracting, inappropriate classroom behavior and assure her that you are disappointed that a few chose to disrespect you and her at such an important moment and you’ll continue to seek ways to change inappropriate behavior and engage them in the future with acceptable class participation.

Last week when a friend and I got in the car after being in a Goodwill store, she said to me, “There were so many people in line for help. Did you see them?” I replied, “No, where were they?” She said, “They were right by where you were looking at those 3 ring binders.” Well, I remember the 3 ring binders but I have no memory of a line of people. I have no doubt that I completely missed something going on right “under my nose.” It just happens to me and I can’t really figure out the reason – it’s just the way I’m designed I’ve decided.

Sometimes I beat myself up for not “being” something/someone different but I’ve decided that is futile. It’s how I am so I’m choosing to hold my head high and embrace this element of my design and try to figure out a way to understand and accept this as God’s best for me.

In your case, I think Satan knew your point of insecurity and he orchestrated a way to attempt a “sink her ship” moment. But he cannot control and destroy and weaken you with his lies which bring fear and distrust if you don’t let him. You can speak God’s truth to his attempts at espionage. God’s truth says:
Gen. 50: 19-21a Joseph said to them (his brothers), “Don’t be afraid… You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid…”

Josh. 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged for the Lord you God will be with you wherever you go.”

II Tim. 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

Messages from the evil one to us are intended to silence and weaken us so that we are ineffective in the work God has for us to do in His kingdom. We have to face that fact and fervently seek to sabotage Satan’s ammo. It can be done!

Teaching is the front line in molding minds and it is a vulnerable position for attack. But you have armor within to deflect attack and guide you through the mine field at your feet. Real truth is what can help you keep your head high, can help restore weakened self confidence and can give you the hope to continue on even with classrooms full of “toughies”.

I’ll be praying that you will be able to think through your response to the classroom observation and be ready for the follow-up interview with divine confidence and energy. God does not want you to cower in fear but to boldly rest in His power which will “set you free” John 8:32.

Your strong, confident, loyal, cheerleader friend...

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