A Vigorous Observation

Posted on March 24, 2011Filed Under Teaching | 2 Comments

After being in the bidness for 20 something years, I don’t really get nervous about administrative observations any more. In fact, sometimes I just clean forget about ’em.  Actually what has happened in recent years is that they’ve forgotten about me.

Really. I think I went four or five years without an actual observation from an administrator. We had one principal who was here for only a year, and the only time he saw me in action was for 5 minutes as I gave my spiel to parents at Back to School Night. Not one of the vice principals I have had here has ever seen me teach for more than a minute or two.  Theoretically, we veterans are supposed to be formally evaluated every other year with a period of observation followed by a conference, with the off years being “informal” with occasional drive-bys and such.

Hmmm.

And I even like having visitors. I tell parents, other teachers, principals, and whoever to just drop in; I don’t need advance notice.  The more the merrier, I say. As long as you’re quiet and pay attention.

Early in my career, I learned the value of inviting parents to watch. I think it was my second or third year of teaching, and I had a kid who was a real pain. I was pretty green, and I wasn’t sure how hard to ride this kid, and his mom was working me about “singling him out” and “treating him unfairly” and claiming that “he never acts like this at home” (duh). So on an impulse, I just said,

“Why don’t you just come in and watch, and see what goes on in class?”

She actually took me up on it.

Now people who don’t know from junior high will say,

“Well, duh. He won’t act like that in front of Mom. He’ll know she’s there and change his behavior until she’s not there.”

Hahahahahaha. What these people don’t understand is that, in its natural habitat, the junior high animal will almost immediately forget that Mom is there, and act accordingly.

Mom apologized so profusely afterwards that I thought she was going to buy me dinner.

The open door policy was born.

Also, I like to show off.

So a couple of weeks ago, my principal e-mails me asking what dates would be good for an official observation. I gave her my standard response,

“You can come anytime without advance notice, so whatever works best for you. You might want to avoid Fridays because it isn’t much fun watching them take a test while I check their homework, but other than that… I don’t think there’s anything I need to hide before you come; I had my servants clean up.” It takes people a while to realize that I am serious, but she finally did, and she showed up unannounced during Tuesday’s warm up.

It was my last period of the day, and this crew is a lively bunch. They always have the highest median test score every Friday, and usually the level of discussion is a bit higher, but they sure can wear a body down. This is the class with the budding “bromance” (I finally had to separate them), and also features The Negotiator, The Pencil Guy, The Fidgeter, Goofy (more on these soon), and this year’s representative over-achiever, who is currently sporting a 109%. It is this last girl who is the focus of one of the latest sources of distraction for this class.

It has become the mission for several of the boys in the class to “beat” her on tests and quizzes.  Says The Fidgeter,

“My whole purpose in life is to beat ‘Gia’ on a quiz… a test… anything.”

So every warm up, every quiz, every test, becomes an occasion for shouts (at answers they got right but Gia got wrong), or more often, moans (at ones they got wrong, but she got right).

They were shouting as my principal walked in. A rare win. But wait…I accepted Gia’s alternative answer with an explanation…MOAN!

Our current principal has given us drive-bys before, and has even been scared by the Timer, so she was ready. But then…

One of the vocabulary words this week is invigorate, and it was the answer to the following analogy that included another vocabulary word:

math : somnolent :: English : _______(ed)

Haha. Get it? Math leaves you somnolent, but English leaves you… Get it?

So then as we are going over the answers and talking about the words and their various uses, I get to talking about how another use of the word vigor is a euphemism for “manhood.” And I do the air quotes.

Embarrassed giggles and such from a few.

“And you know, it’s not a coincidence that Viagra sounds like vigor…if you know what I mean.”

Probably only about half really know what I mean, but all of them know that I said something a little… well, you know.

And 27 heads swivel to the back of the room.

Is it ok to laugh?

Sho’ nuff is.

Comments

2 Responses to “A Vigorous Observation”

  1. miss howard on March 27th, 2011 6:50 pm

    so, i just stumbled onto this beautiful blog of yours while… acutally researching some teaching ideas for The Outsiders 🙂 go figure. just wanted to say how much i enjoy your stories! sometimes i forget that there are others out there that get to experience the same glorious middle school behavior! i’ll be checking back in for more laughs! thanks!

  2. mrC on April 4th, 2011 9:09 pm

    Thank you so much for the kudos. Welcome aboard.

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