The power of your peers

We had several guest teachers in our school today. Every day substitute teachers enter our building as guests; witnesses to the work that we do, the kids we care about, and the amazing “stuff” that goes on in our building. I must say that these teachers are invaluable, and we could not do our jobs without them. It was one of these guest teachers that got me thinking today.

Today, as I was beginning my math class, a guest teacher entered our classroom, and took a seat in an empty desk at the back. For one reason or another, I wasn’t phased by this. I would think that in some cases, teachers may feel threatened by the presence of another teacher or colleague in their room, just watching them. “Why are they here?” “What do they want?” are most likely questions that would run through their minds. However, neither of these crept into my brain, perhaps because I was already zoned in on the 33 grade 7’s rushing into my class after their 5 minute break. Once the students got themselves started on the opening problem of the day, I was able to greet the teacher and thank them for coming in.

As the class progressed, something started to happen. The students were engaged (seemingly more than usual), the content was creating discussion, the students were properly using the manipulatives, and everything was running smoothly, way too smoothly. I have to admit, I was excited. To see the students battle through their misunderstandings, and eventually explain in their own words to me why they needed to ‘add the opposite’ when subtracting integers, was great! I would say today’s class was the best of the week, and I don’t think it was an accident.

I think it was because of the guest teacher.

I have to admit, something clicked in my brain when he walked in. It wasn’t a negative thought rather, it was a motivation, a motivation to be “a good teacher”. Personally, I don’t think that this is a terrible thing, the desire to be better because someone is watching. Is this not what I am trying to achieve when I have students create a project, assignment, or a contribution to the class blog? One thing I know about my students is that audience is key. So why to often do teachers feel pressured or intimidated when someone is watching them do their work? Do they feel as though they are being judged? I hope not, and more importantly, hope my students don’t feel this way when they are presenting something in front of me.

It has been brought up on our staff to have more time to get into each other’s classrooms. The desire is to observe, not to judge. There are many of exciting and amazing things happening in our building that I miss out on everyday. I would love to be able to experience those. However there are still those that reply to the suggestion with negative thoughts. I wonder what it is that makes these individuals uncomfortable.

As I reflect on today’s lesson, I believe when the teacher entered I wanted to perform better. I wanted him to see that I was a good teacher, but never once did I feel uncomfortable as though I was being judged. As a result, I feel as though I delivered, and was involved in a great learning experience. I do wonder one thing though, did the students notice? Was there a noticeable difference between today and any other day, or was today status quo, and I just was in a better mood?

I asked the teacher after for some feedback on today’s lesson, and not surprisingly he said that it went really well. Hopefully in the future I will have a chance to experience the type of situation I did today.

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About cameronhall

I am committed to improving my own practice personally and professionally. I am an elementary school assistant principal and learning support teacher. I am also committed to helping others achieve their own personal goals in health and wellness.
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