Thursday, April 26, 2012

Firsts In Teacher Evaluations

I was sitting a classroom doing one of my first teacher observations after becoming a principal.  The teacher being observed was a solid special education teacher so this figured to be a pretty easy one.  The teacher was working with a small pull out group of 5th graders when I entered and grabbed a seat in the back of the room.

Shortly after I sat down, I heard some sort of chaotic screaming coming from the boy's student washroom which was located across the hall from the classroom we were in.  I was kind of hoping who ever was yelling would stop or that another teacher would address it.  But the screaming continued.

I wasn't really sure what the protocol here was.  Clearly, someone had to address the bathroom issue.  I just wasn't sure I was allowed to leave.  It was a formal evaluation scheduled at a time of the teacher's choosing.  To walk out might nullify the evaluation which would in turn create a 'but I worked extra hard to prepare this lesson for you' situation.  The screaming continued and I ultimately decided that I had to go address it.  I figured if I was quick I would be okay since the teacher was going to get a nice evaluation anyway.

I darted into the bathroom.  As I whipped around the wall, there stood one of our new 5th grade boys.  He was splashing like an infant in the sink basin.  He was soaking wet, foam soap was everywhere, and he was banging on the mirror with open palms as he screamed.  It looked like something you'd see in a mental institute.

"Dude, what are you doing!?"  The kid stopped and looked at me with a mixture of stun and embarrassment like I'd just walked on his taking dump.  After a few seconds he raced out of the bathroom crying.

Normally I would have pursued the kid and got a custodian to clean up the mess, but I needed to get back into the evaluation.  I decided to just let it go and hustled back to the classroom.

When I entered, there stood the very same kid I had just yelled at crying.  The teacher was trying to calm the kid down.  I hadn't even realized he was a special education student.

The boy eventually went under a table and refused to come out. The teacher spent the majority of the remaining time trying to coax him back to his seat (or least quiet his crying).

I figured this had to be a first in teacher observation scenarios.  The observer leaves the room during an observation, then creates a situation for the teacher being observed has to deal with that pretty much wrecks his entire lesson!

Luckily, skilled special education teachers are pretty used to dealing with the unexpected. He handled the student well. The teacher and I shared a good laugh over the incident, and we got the palm prints cleaned off the mirror.  

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