When people come observe, I feel I should apologize.

But that feeling doesn’t last for very long.  


I run a class in such a way that the students do what they need to do, and I try my best to stay out of their way.  Sure, I communicate what they need to do, through Criteria for Success indicators and some sort of loose agenda posted.  And I supply them with resources (oh the resources!).  But for the most part, they move from one things to another as they earn it. Yup.  They need to earn the work, the next step, the homework.  And do the kiddos work to earn it.  

In a two week period, I had 5 visitors to my E block class.  The students were unphased by the visitors.  (And amusingly enough, they just approached the people as if they were an additional resource, just like an anchor chart, textbook, or calculator.)  Because of the way that class works, I am able to sit with the visitor for 8-14 minutes and answer any and all questions about what the visitor observes or to give a bit of background to the work.  But usually the first thing that pops out of my mouth is an apology: “Sorry, you don’t get to see me teach today; this is how the class works.”  Sure, I am not at the front of the room leading the children to the wonders of mathematics.  But that’s how I roll.  (And yes, there are days that I am, but I usually don’t like it.)  But the piece that makes other people/observers/evaluators more nervous about the work that we do in lovely room 054: we aren’t all together for very long.  One observer told me he measured we were in “whole-class” mode for 3.5 minutes.  Total.  Of 58 minutes.  And I kinda thought that was too much time for that particular class.  

I am often in negotiations with other people about what I am doing should be considered teaching.  Or maybe a better word is facilitating.  Or herding.  But regardless of the title, the children are learning some mathematical thinking.  And to be independent.  And to consult peers.  And use multiple sources to improve.  And make and meet personal deadlines.  And self-evaluate their learning.  And that effective effort leads to improvement.  And personal accountability is better than any other sort of accountability.  And that everyone in our community has and uses strengths to improve.  

And I feel much of that above list more important than the children mastering most of the math content required.  

So I guess I should stop apologizing for doing what I think is best for the kiddos that I have. 


3 thoughts on “When people come observe, I feel I should apologize.

  1. I am a math teacher in a small district–you can count the number of math teachers in the district on one hand. I would like to throw out a lot of what we do. Any chance you’d be willing to send me the resources you have been using this year for Algebra I in the hopes that I could blow up my class and be ready to rock and roll next year? Thanks.

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