Monday, March 19, 2012

Observation & Pre-Post Conferences

I feel like a gigantic weight has been lifted off my formal observation is done! I feel like I should have a grand celebration..instead I'm blogging!

My pre-conference consisted of a ton of questions about my lesson plan for my formal observation including accommodations for ESOL and ESE students, standards, etc. I really felt like I was being tested. The questions were part of Marzano's Art and Science of teaching iobservation evaluations so I don't blame my principal for these hard questions but it is a lot to answer. I won't get into all of it but if you are a Florida teacher you know what I'm talking about. So during this pre-conference I had to answer all questions pertaining to my lesson and domain #2 which is planning and preparing.  I felt frusterated because some of the information about tracking had not been mentioned to me previously and my principal wanted me do it in my lesson with my kids that day in formal observation. I had approximately one hour and thirty minutes to introduce to my kids a new way to track their own learning (insert sarcastic cheers). Needless to say I left the meeting scrambling back to my room to try and implement this in my room.

Once I initially freaked out and calmed down. I decided to put sticky notes on my students desk so they could track their learning using their scales each time the learning goal was said and they showed their understanding on their learning scale. It sounds like a lot to do but my kids had already been showing me their understanding by using their fingers 4-I can teach a friend 3-I understand 2-I understand most of it but need more help and 1-I'm trying but I don't understand yet. So all they had to do was write this down on the sticky note during the beginning, middle, and end of the lesson. It worked out well (thank goodness, I must have a teacher guardian angel) and the lesson ran smoothly. My students enjoyed working together in cooperative groups and making the foldable. My students behaved and did a wonderful job with the lesson. My principal loved how I had differentiate activities for all types of learners. Yeah, go me! She gave me a high five on the way out and said great job. Seconds later I got an e-mail already from iObservation telling me what I got on my observation which was applying.

I worked diligently on my post conference reflection and conference that afternoon while my students watched the cutest Reading Rainbow video on If You Give A Mouse a Cookie and cause and effect and went to specials. Who would have thought all these years later Reading Rainbow would still be a hit? Well it certainly was! No, I'm not a teacher that lets my kids watch movies all the time but it was Friday, St. Patrick's Day, I had my formal observation for 45 minutes, and we're all really ready for Spring Break so yes I took a "break" and worked on my teacher paperwork.

Then this morning I worked hard to make sure I had all the questions prepared, my individual professional plan, data notebook, and lesson plans all ready for my post conference. I went in prepared and I felt so much better about the post conference! My principal coached me through some of the harder domain questions and was super complimentary of my lesson. She said she was very confident in me as a teacher and liked how I engaged my students. She also let me know that she is most likely putting a student with special needs in my class next year who has a para professional. He is currently in a K-1 class but is staying another year in first grade. She said she think I would be the best teacher for him next year and already wants him to visit my class at the end of the year. To ease the transition to a new teacher and create less anxiety. She said she cannot say yet if I will for sure be in first grade because this would be preferential treatment and she has to continue to look at her numbers but it looks like I'll most likely be staying in 1st grade next year! Now I still have to meet one last time for my entire evaluation and to see what my assignment for next year will be. I'm so glad it's mostly done!

For other Florida/Marzano teachers:
Cheat sheet for Domain 1

Celebrate success by:          
                                    - Show of hands
-       Certificates
-       Parent notification
-       Applause
-       Pat on the back
-       Stickers on a chart
-   High fiving a friend

Track student progress            - chart/graph progress
- thumbs up or down for understanding
      - point to faces chart of understanding
      - number over heart for understanding
      -track on paper

Learning Goals           - Goal posted on board
- Refer to statement
                                    - Clear statement
                                    -Restated in students' own words

Establish Classroom Routine:
Review rules
Remind students of rules
Signal students when to use rules

Layout of the classroom:
Clear traffic pattern
Decorated to enhance learning
Learning centers
Easily move about

Up next Field Day and 2 more days until SPRING BREAK!


  1. Wow! Reading this made me appreciate where I teach & what my evaluation consist of. I haven't had mine yet this year... I won't know in advance... the principal just drops in. I'm glad that weight has been lifted off of your shoulders!

    First Grade Delight

    1. Thanks so much! I get the pop in observation too- those are informal observations. If you have 4 years or more experience you get 2 informals and 1 formal. If you have 3 years or less or are on probation you have 6 informal and 2 formals. It is great that they are observing everyone but it is so much work!

  2. oh girl...I feel ya!! I'm in FL, but they don't know what to do with me because I was gone for 2 months, which is when everything was due, and I haven't been teaching, so then how is my kids' success or lack of a reflection if I'm making my PGP goals?? ahhh!!
    and we have field day on Thursday an the spring break too!!

    1. Oh no I know a lot of girls on pregnancy leave had to do there observations before they left and then we've had one person who was out since October and just came back (she was on bed rest during pregnancy) so she hasn't had any observations done and they don't know what to do with her either. They told her they will try to get everything done in April but that is just soo rushed! Good luck with everything!

  3. Replies
    1. The post was a lot of work but the pre was way more scary. I might have cried if I had the time to wallow. Thankfully I had to get it together for the observation though!

  4. Congrats on a great observation!! In Iowa we have cycle years, I had mine a year or so ago, in SEPTEMBER for LITERACY GROUPS! I about flipped my K babies will still be babies ...OHMYWORD! I was thankful that she was happy with all the pre / post paper work!!

    YEA for small victories!!
    Stalker "outed"

    1. Thanks! You are so lucky you have cycles! Every teacher has to be observed now. For teacher with 4 years or more we get 2 informal observations (pop in...whatever subject) and 1 formal (planning, you pick subject and lesson). For teachers with 3 years or less they get observed 6 times informally and 2 times formally. It is soo much work! I'm just glad it's over!

    2. It sounds like we have "more" of that coming. We have any number of walk throughs. I dont worry so much about that, but then on our cycle year its about every other or so 3 year cycle (until the state changes it to every year I think starting next year) Then that year we get 1 informal & 1 formal. That is a crazy amount of observation, I guess if you have a good admin you can get some good feedback on what to "try" next to be better "yet". But I would be like you ...a nervous wreck until it was OVER. I guess that was the only upside of having mine the end of Sept! OVER! phew! Good Luck!!

  5. Wow girly! Sounds like you had a crazy day. I am glad it all went well. I hope you get if stay in 1st grade next year. I am praying I stay in 2nd. I moved last year and really love 2nd a lot. We shall see!

    1. It was a little cray! (haha yes I used that word) I have only ever taught K and 1st so I would love to just stay put in 1st but we'll see! Every year I've had to change classrooms so I feel like if you have to change rooms you should at least get the same grade lol. Don't bring on too much change at once! I hope you get to stay in 2nd! I hear it is a lovely grade to teach! I put it down as my second choice for next year. We get to put our choices in and mine were 1st, 2nd, and then K. Good luck girl!

    2. WHUT!?! Trading grade levels every year!! Oh My....our teachers would FLIP! What is the "idea" behind that?! I totally get the idea of stale and disconnected but past all of that...what would be the benefit?! Do you ever teach the same group again? As much as I love my kiddos (& I really do) 176 days w/ a few of them is PLENTY! ;P

  6. Yippee! I am glad that your evaluation is over and you did well. And staying in the same grade level for more than one year is such a blessing! I hope I get to do that again someday! Check out my giveaway for something to help you have some much deserved relaxation time over break!


    1. I will check out your giveaway! Thanks for reading and thanks for letting me know about your giveaway! I can't wait to relax!

  7. I'm curious what kind of differentiation your principal was looking for? I teach 2nd grade inclusion, and I'm always wondering if I'm differentiating enough. Can you share some examples?

    1. You can look back at my lesson on Observation Seeking Advice for my lesson plan. I usually differentiate in a whole group lesson by asking different tier questions, modeling, using cooperative groups (each group gets specific books/activities for their needs), and during independent work I might have some students extend the activity by writing more and other students may just have to cut/paste pre made sentences because they have difficulty writing. I really get into differentiating with literacy centers because each word work activity is tailored to what each of my reading groups need. Remember when differentiating you are really just meeting your students needs and making accommodations something you probably already do! Hope this helps answer your question!

  8. I am in Florida, but our district hasn't adopted Marzano's Art and Science. It sounds so stressful! I am so thankful that my administrative team doesn't get hung up on "formal" observations. The philosophy is that they can pretty much tell what kind of teacher you are just by popping in a few times. I am down to 1 observation a year, thank goodness!

    Thanks for sharing and I am crossing my fingers that this doesn't find its way to South Florida!

    1. Wow I'm surprised to hear that you are not getting observed more and Marzano hasn't come your way. The county adopted this evaluation system as part of the pay for performance model. So soon 2014 I think we will be getting bonuses based on how well we do on our evaluation for the year and how much progress our students have made. This program is supposed to fairly determine based on 3 observations, lesson plans, data, and professionalism what your "score" should be and how much your bonus should be. Our admin definitely goes with the attitude of "we know if your a good teacher or not" but now feel pressure from the county to implement this system. I really hope the whole system goes away and they will let us just teach but I feel like changes are coming soon to Florida. Good luck!