I have just given this a watch and a listen and I got that all-too-familiar crawling sensation up the back of my scalp and that nauseous surge of adrenalin that leaves one cold and clammy and that sickening lump in my throat.
What is it about being observed, having someone, anyone, a so-called ‘better other’ watching what you do in the classroom and then “giving you feedback” that is so terrifyingly, debilitatingly, nerve-wrackingly, vomit-inducingly, gut-wrenchingly vile? I cannot think of anything worse than being “coached” in my teaching, going back to Mr Gates’s TED talk. I see the value in it, I would be happy to be a coach for any of my teachers, but the thought of going through it myself is more ghastly than anything else I can think of.
And I’m not the only teacher who thinks this way. Almost every other teacher I have ever met, spoken to or worked with feels exactly the same. As DoS, I have had to help teachers breathe into paper bags before I could observe them, I have had to leave a classroom because of the agonies the teacher was experiencing (it was cruel to stay), I have had to comfort and reassure, hand out tissues by the box-load, destroy any recorded evidence of lessons and promise that I wouldn’t fire anyone. It has got to the point where doing observations has just become a complete trial. I have tried any number of alternatives: let a video camera run and give the teacher right of veto – no joy. Peer observe – turned into a praise fest, which is fine, but not terribly constructive. Go in unannounced – probably worked the best, but had to re-establish trust with the teacher concerned.
And it’s not like I’m an ogre. I think I’m kind and gentle and positive and helpful and those teachers who did endure were always very pleased and grateful for the “feedback”.
So what is it that makes us so terrified of it? Answers on postcards, please, or just post a comment below.