Observation and Evaluation. Two words capable of striking fear into the heart of even the most seasoned teacher.
The truth is that a great teacher can have an awful day and an awful teacher can fake a great day during an observation. I’ve been both great and awful and can attest to to the truthfulness of this statement.
In my current role as an interventionist for a literacy research project I’m observed frequently–at least once each week–to make sure I’m following the intervention protocol. Normally these observations don’t phase me. I’m either doing the intervention correctly or I’m not.
But today I pretty much bombed during an observation. Lack of preparation wasn’t the issue–I had all of my materials prepped and ready to go. I’d practiced the lesson with a co-worker as is our daily custom. The first 15 minutes of the lesson were perfect.
Then everything went to hell in a hand basket when the second graders decided to go slightly psycho. It’s a small group of four kids, three boys and one girl. The little girl was an angel and looked on with horror (along with yours truly) as the lesson went from perfect to putrid in 10 seconds flat.
One of the little boys began farting. Loudly. The smells accompanying the farts were horrendous. At first we simply ignored the sounds and smells, until it was impossible to pretend nothing was going on.
Of course the other two boys thought this was hysterical. I’m not afraid of farts; I’ve been known to pass gas on occasion, but I’d never experienced farts of this magnitude. They rated at least a 6.4 on the Richter scale.
While boy #1 was engaged in gas passing one of the other young men used the distraction to turn off my recorder–the one that has to be turned into the office at the end of the week. Boy #3 decided to roll on the floor in a fit of giggles.
The observer, who looked to be in her early 20’s, didn’t know which way to look as I scrambled over the table, reset the recorder, and scooped up boy #3. I then sternly sent Fart Boy to the bathroom.
By that time, our 30 minutes was up, and we were nowhere near completing the lesson. As I escorted our group back to their respective classrooms, picking Fart Boy up on the way, I gathered them together for a team meeting.
“Look,” I said. “I realize that sometimes things happen that cause us to laugh and that’s okay, but how could we have handled this situation better?”
Fart Boy raised his hand.
Good, I thought, he realizes that he has some responsibility here. “What do you suggest ‘Jon'” I asked.
His response? A resounding fart.
We can hope for a better day tomorrow. Prayers are appreciated.