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Teacher Observations

Are they really necessary?
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Teacher observations have been rapidly gaining controversy in recent times, and variations between teacher and observer views on the examination have become stark. Can the conclusion of an observation vary dramatically based on the observer? How do teachers feel about these triannual studies?

Let’s start with the preparation for an observation. 8th grade Language Arts teacher Mr. Rock explains that he is prompted with a one-week notice before any observation and is usually given three weeks for the examination to occur.  Considering the circumstances, three weeks requires a lot of lesson planning, and large amounts of stress can arise from attempting to have a substantial lesson plan for every day. 

For example, a teacher who chose to remain anonymous explains that, even after many years of experience, the suspense of a potential observation causes a sense of stress and results in an irrational desire to always keep doing better.

How does the trajectory of the observation affect the teacher? An anonymous teacher explains that the studies do not have a noticeable effect on the teacher. The observer does meet with the teacher within a week following the observation and usually has a suggestion of something to implement into their teaching, but there is no impact on salary at all.

While Mr. Rock believes that observations are both fair and necessary, the anonymous teacher thinks that evaluations aren’t consistent from evaluator to evaluator; Some observers are much harsher than others and let that impact the result of the observation.

Mrs. Snodgrass, McAuliffe’s lead observer, shared her insights on the importance and impact of classroom observations. Contrary to the belief that these observations are inconsequential, Mrs. Snodgrass emphasized their significance. She explained that, “Every year a teacher gets an overall rating that includes observation scores, student performance on assessments, student perception survey scores, and professionalism. ” 

In addition to clarifying the evaluation process, Mrs. Snodgrass explained the aftermath of an observation session. She noted, “After a session, we focus on behaviors by teachers and students, then have a rich conversation about teaching habits and strategies.” This approach, according to Mrs. Snodgrass, ensures fairness by offering all teachers a chance to accept feedback and improve.

On the necessity of these observation cycles, Mrs. Snodgrass stated, “The observation/coaching cycle allows for teachers to accelerate their growth and effectiveness.” This cycle is pivotal not just for teacher development but also for enhancing student outcomes. Mrs. Snodgrass argued that without such structured observations, teachers could potentially develop harmful habits.

Overall, teacher observations are a great way to learn within education. Despite the controversies and varying perspectives between observers and teachers, these evaluations serve as a crucial way for teacher improvement. By offering information on teaching habits, student work, and classroom management, observations provide a unique opportunity for educators to reflect on their work and implement strategies that enhance their teaching.

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About the Contributors
Lera Andronova
Lera Andronova, Author
Hello! My name is Lera Andronova, and I am currently in 8th grade. Something you might not expect about me is that I am a dancer! In my free time, I like to read and sometimes take walks in nature. I love to write news pieces that are connected to some passionate movement.
Mila Baird-Yeung
I'm Mila Baird-Yeung, I am in the eighth grade and I enjoy alpine ski racing over my weekends. In my free time, I love watching reality TV, reading, and running. My favorite thing to write about is opinionative writing because I get to share my point of view and try to understand other points of view, however, I also enjoy world news because I like researching the topics and feeling more engaged in the events of current time.

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