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First Year Teacher Self-Study Course

First Year Teacher is a self-paced professional development course for novice K-3 teachers, developed by Reading Rockets. The program provides teachers with an in-depth knowledge of reading so they are prepared to guide their students into becoming skilled and enthusiastic readers.

Photo of teacher and students

Week 12

Observation day

With report cards and conferences under my belt, I was feeling much more at ease as I came into school on Monday. Since we had early dismissal for conferences the previous week, we were now back to full days and a regular routine. But in the beginning of the week, my principal told me that he would observe me on Wednesday. "The fun never ends," I sarcastically thought to myself, as I looked over my lesson plans to make sure that I was prepared.

Teachers are always learning how they can improve their teaching approaches and techniques. Between workshops and Professional Development Days, it is expected that we are constantly finding new ways to become better teachers. Observations are a way for another person to point out our strengths and weaknesses, highlighting the ways that we can improve our teaching style. As a first year teacher, there is still a lot for me to learn. And observations and evaluations can help to pinpoint what I need to learn and change now.

My principal is always stopping by my room, greeting the students and watching us do lessons and activities. Because of this, I am not nervous when he is in my room. Since this was the first time that he was observing a reading lesson, I thought I would be very anxious once he came in at 10:15 on Wednesday. But the more I thought about it, I knew something had changed in me since the beginning of the year. Now, once I am in front of the classroom, I am so focused on the children and the lesson that other things quickly fade into the background. While I was obviously aware that he was in my room for the lesson, he was not my biggest focus. Instead I made sure that as the students did partner reading, they were following along with their fingers while they listened to the text. While I presented parts of sentences for the first time, I made sure that each student was highlighting the correct parts of the sentences. Since it was the first time we were using highlighters for a lesson, I also had to make sure they were being used properly. Before I knew it, the lesson was over and we were moving into learning centers. But more importantly, the observation was also over!

Of course I am going to make mistakes as a first year teacher. I am human, aren't I? And yes, while it is not fun to have mistakes and weaknesses pointed out to me in observations, it is a part of this job, as it would be with any. As I remind myself that it is expected for us as teachers to constantly improve, it makes it easier for me to handle constructive criticism and learn from it. Observations are just a way to point this information out. While I am looking forward to getting the required observations done and over with, I know that with each one, I learn something new and become a better teacher in the process.

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"Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them." — Neil Gaiman