(Click "Read More" to continue)
The response I got surprised me. My observer simply told me that I was being too hard on myself, that the lesson had gone very well, and that I would do fine. I may still be a wide-eyed idealist, but I had been hoping to get a lot of constructive criticism I could use to improve my pedagogy. Instead, I guess because I was doing an adequate job, my observer saw no need to offer me any tips to grow as a teacher. I really identified with Wagner's statement that "More than anything, [he] longed to talk to other teachers about the craft of teaching and to get feedback on [his]work in the classroom.” I was fortunate at my previous school site. The school was small enough, and the Social Science department friendly enough, that I was able to benefit from being observed by several more experienced teachers, and I learned a lot from each observation. This site is more insular, and so I haven’t been able to get the same degree of feedback, which is unfortunate because this semester is presenting much more of an opportunity to develop my classroom management than last term did.
If I were in charge of teacher education and professional development, to start I would increase the pay for teachers significantly, along with the expectations. I would increase the number of teachers employed at each school, and I would make a point of giving teachers additional prep time with some restrictions: at least two days a week, they need to use one of their prep periods to go into another classroom and observe that teacher, providing at least two areas of strength they observed in the lesson and at least two areas for improvement. Ideally, I would even create a schedule for this, giving teachers a chance to observe instruction both in their content areas and in other departments to learn things that could then inform their own practice. Along with this, there would need to be professional development centered around how to give effective feedback and what to look for in an observation, as one of Wagner's other good points was about the serious inconsistency of many observations.
Wagner, Tony. Global Achievement Gap : Why Even Our Best Schools Don't Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need--and What We Can Do about It. New York, NY, USA: Basic Books, 2010. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 24 March 2015.