The thought of someone coming in to observe you at work is unsettling for some and downright disturbing to others. You may fear that your regular, everyday routines will suddenly become a disheveled chain of events, as you struggle to stay focused. And that’s just you– but what about the children?
Ah yes, the children. How will they act that day? Will they sense your nervousness and become uneasy, as well? Now, your imagination begins to run wild! Children who are usually calm and well-behaved will act out and become unruly. Those children who are normally a handful will totally test your limits, recognizing your demeanor is a little off and someone else is in the room.
And what about the activities you’ve planned and the daily schedule? Will you even be able to remember your plans and keep things running smoothly... or will the whole morning start to unravel?
As these scenarios race through your head, you find it hard to get that good night’s sleep you need the night before. Well, all of this can be avoided. With a little planning and preparation, you can feel calm and fully prepared for a great observation.
First, think about your typical weekly schedule. Choose a day for your observation that is usually smooth and low-key… not one that has a number of changes or special activities. Avoid a day when some of the children usually arrive late or leave early. These types of change-ups can just cause waves and unpredictable situations you don’t need!
Choose the activities for your observation day wisely. You’ll want activities that aren’t highly teacher-directed, so you can still focus on the rest of the room and put out small fires, if needed.
Don’t be tempted to show off with that new, messy, hands-on paint activity you saw at a workshop recently. Observation Day is the wrong time to try something new and untested, because it will undoubtedly follow Murphy’s Law… with a good chance of things getting out of hand, and clean-up becoming a total stress-fest.
When you do decide on the day’s activities, be sure they are well planned out. You might even consider writing out bullet points of how things will proceed, in case you get a little nervous and go blank. Have the necessary materials completely ready to go and at hand. Nothing raises blood pressure like realizing you’re missing the key item for an activity, when someone is watching and taking notes!
Think about and come up with a Plan B, in case what you originally planned isn’t going well. Instead of a meltdown, you’ll have a new trick up your sleeve to (almost) seamlessly save the day. The PD Specialist will be very impressed! You probably do this every day without thinking, but during an observation, don’t expect any of your quick thinking to kick in.
Finally, (and probably first of all) be sure to conduct a Self-Study of your early childhood program environment and teaching practices. I’ve mentioned this before, but the value of this exercise is worth repeating! You want to feel calm and in control during the observation, knowing exactly what the PD Specialist will be looking for. This brings a sense of confidence, having double checked and done your best to comply with the main points of interest.
Now, relax! Get a good night's sleep and plan on a fantastic observation!