I had my annual “Goals Meeting” with my principal the other day. In our district, you get the full “Evaluation” every other year, and in between you have to have an educational goal for the year with a meeting at each end of the year more or less. I’m on the off year, and my goal was to help the noobs.

Obviously I couldn’t actually word it like that now could I? I think I said shtuff  like “mentor and collaborate with our new teachers” or some such thing.

To paraphrase Led Zeppelin: We gotta whole lotta noobs.

Our staff looks so different than it did even three years ago. We went from having one of the oldest, most crotchety staffs in the district to a house fulla young go-getters. We have teachers in years 1-3 and teachers in their first years of junior high after just a few years of high school experience, and everybody and her mom is into collaboration and “common assessments.” One of our noob English teachers even was heard to say, “I like meetings.”


So I have been actually trying to… you know… collaborate.

Meetings are right out though.

Anyway, all my principal and I ended up talking about was my observations from my latest drive-bys.

I like to watch. Other classes that is. On my prep, after I put Bella to work, I sometimes go visiting. Not just English, but also (especially) math and science. I’m going to go out to PE next week I think.

I just wander in, and the ones that know me start shouting, “Hi Mr. Coward!” I tell them to get back to work, and assure the usually startled teacher that I’m just here to say hey and watch the show for awhile and maybe see “how my crims are doing in their other classes.”

If they’re working on something individually, I walk around reading over shoulders and asking after the assignment. If the teacher is “teaching,” then I sit down and watch. I usually don’t stay more than about 10 minutes or so. Then I say thanks, and stroll out. Recently I watched a science lab, two different math warm ups, a lecture about the pope, and one of our Read 180 classes.

The science lab was eerie good. A lab full of eighth graders going about their business quietly and with focus. Everybody, including the second year teacher, was talking in his/her library voice, which I don’t think I have one of any more. Nobody was farting around with the little cars; they actually used them as intended in the experiment. It was scary good.

Everybody I saw rocked it, and my inner seventh grader was not bored at all.

So that’s pretty much all we talked about at the meeting: the changing staff and the people and classes I had seen. We agreed that way more people should go visiting. He has encouraged people at our staff meetings, offering to cover classes and/or hire subs, but you know how people are about being out of their classrooms.

So I say, burn (part of) a prep now and then. You’ll learn a lot, it’s more useful than any forced collaboration, and most people actually like it when you come by. I usually get asked back. Plus you’ll get to see how some of your crew act in their other habitats, which is kind of fun.