Bear with me for a minute.
When I was 6 my grandma died. That was the first time I had to face the concept of death and, I’ll be honest, it scared me. A lot.
It bothered me for a long time, and I remember a year later being on a ride at the Epcot Center[sic] being absolutely paralysed with fear wondering what oblivion would be like.
Over time, of course, I came to accept that death is a part of life and to get on with living it without having to deal with panic attacks every day or two. So why is this relevant?
I also remember a time when, having been accepted for my PGCE and still working in a call centre I used to read the TES from cover to cover. I had a similar (although less extreme) moment of terror when I realised (at a conceptual level) that my lessons would be observed, my teaching examined, my qualities as a human being ticked off. Sheer horror.
Of course most practising teachers know that this isn’t the way it works in real life. Perhaps I’ve been lucky in where I work but my observations have always been done the right way. They’ve not all been outstanding (in fact I don’t think I’ve ever had an unqualified ‘outstanding’ rating) but, as my Head Teacher said in a staff meeting this morning – observations are not a stick to beat you with.
All of my observations have been aimed at looking at what I do well and identifying areas that I can improve on. They’ve never been used to tell me off, they’ve never been used to demotivate or humiliate and they’ve never been used to take privileges or status away from me.
This is especially relevant as I’m going to have to manage performance reviews this term and so I’ll be the one doing the observations, the one making the notes, the one providing the feedback. Luckily I don’t work with anyone who would ever need a stick to beat them with – here’s hoping I can take the examples I’ve been given and use these observations as opportunities to see excellent teaching, excellent learning, excellent progress – and if we see one or two routes to make things even better then that’s no bad thing.