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  • Writer's pictureallisonjolester

The Art of Non-Evaluative Observation!

Every day, you step into the classroom equipped with wisdom, dedication, and a generous dollop of patience. But in the daily hustle of lesson plans, grading, parent meetings, and more, do you ever stop to witness your own magic in action?

Today, let's dive into the transformative art of cultivating a non-evaluative stance in observing your teaching practice. We'll slow down, leave our judgment caps behind, and discover the wonders of non-evaluative observation. And oh, there's a fun twist - we're bringing video observations and analysis into the mix!

Why Slow Down and Hold Your Judgment?

Let's start with a little experiment. Right now, pause for a moment, and observe your surroundings. The humming of your laptop, the soft whisper of your fan, the distant chatter outside your window - these everyday moments often go unnoticed in our pursuit of next, next, next.

Teaching, like any other profession, tends to lean towards evaluation, comparison, and self-critique. However, when we're always in the fast lane, we miss the subtle cues that our students, our teaching styles, and our classrooms offer us.

Slowing down and observing non-judgmentally helps us recognize these small but impactful elements. This is not about grading ourselves; it's about understanding our strengths and the areas where we can grow. It's about seeing ourselves as evolving entities rather than static 'good' or 'bad' labels.

Lights, Camera, Action – Embrace Video Observations!

Okay, it may sound a little scary (or exciting, depending on how you view it!), but one of the most effective ways to observe your teaching practice is through video observations. Yes, recording your teaching session and analyzing it.

Video observations allow you to be your own spectator. They can be paused, rewound, and played again, enabling you to observe moments that might otherwise be lost in the real-time flux of teaching. Video technology provides you the opportunity to not only see but analyze and reflect on your teaching.

Seeing your class from the 'outside' could be a game-changer in your teaching journey. It encourages mindfulness, promotes self-reflection, and lets you view your teaching with fresh eyes.

Noticing, Wondering, and the "See, Think, Wonder" Routine

Ready to give this a shot? Here's a simple, non-evaluative approach to begin with:

1. Noticing: Before you watch your recorded class, let go of the urge to judge or compare. Instead, just notice. Pay attention to your body language, voice modulation, student responses, and classroom dynamics. Don't assign any value; just notice.

2. Wondering: Now, let curiosity guide you. Ask questions about your observations. "Why did I pause there?" "Why did Johnny look confused during the explanation?" "Why did that joke work so well in lightening the mood?"

3. See, Think, Wonder: This Harvard-developed routine is a great way to deepen your reflections. 'See' by observing patterns, 'Think' by interpreting what these patterns might mean, and 'Wonder' by asking questions that lead to a broader understanding of your teaching practice.

But remember, the point here is not to uncover some glaring fault or pat yourself on the back. It's to engage in a thoughtful process of self-observation and understanding that leads to professional growth.

Stepping back to observe your teaching practice might feel like extra work on an already overflowing plate, but trust me, the insights and the growth that come from it are invaluable. It's an ongoing process, a journey where every step, every observation, brings you closer to becoming the teacher you aspire to be.

So, fellow superheroes, ready to step back, slow down, and see your teaching magic in action? Lights, camera, and non-evaluative observation!

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