19th year in the classroom and I have to admit that I have evaluaphobia–I suppose this is stage fright of the teacher. I know it’s stage fright the moment I lose focus of the students and begin to focus on every little thing that is off in my lesson.
Few worries when I am in the room with the kids. I have fun every single day and love what I do. The mere thought of evaluation freaks me out. Today before 12 teachers who are a part of this year’s TechEds group came into my room, I was nervous, but when they came in I was fine. Perhaps because they weren’t evaluating me, but in a way they were–just not formally. Why was today different? My kids knew what they were doing, they knew why they were doing it, we were working with technology, and the attention was not on me, but the attention was on what my students were doing.
Still, though, I am terrified when a administrator comes in my room to evaluate me. Recently, once again, I fumbled and lost focus of my kids in a moment of anxiety. Being that my visitor was not my usual suspect, I was nervous in a different way. What happened? What happened was I quit focusing on the kids; instead I focused on myself. I was more focused on teacher moves than on student moves. Where does that get me? Nowhere fast. In addition, I couldn’t envision my lesson the night before. I had a new idea, but I couldn’t figure out how the pieces would fit together. And my realization on that day was that if I cannot connect the dots from beginning to end, then I’m not ready to teach that lesson in front of anyone other than the kids, or maybe I need a few if then scenarios to play out in my mind, so I am consciously thinking of adjustments I might need to make.
My other revelation based on conversation and time to reflect is that I need to learn to relax and be more confident in who I am as a teacher and keep the focus on the lesson and the students. Like the new suspect said, I have no reason to be afraid as a teacher of nearly nineteen years–I need to relax. He’s right–nearly 19 years teaching, and I should be able to relax no matter who is in my room.
I did a little research after my epiphany that my whole problem is “stagefright.” Reality tells me–the classroom is not a stage–not for me anyway–I am not the sage on the stage. I know I am the guide on the side, right? Soooooo…why do I let the little things that go wrong when visitors are in my room take hold of my brain, shift my focus, and make me a bumbling idiot?
Being that I like to answer these kind of questions, I did some research, and here is my insight of how I can avoid EVALUAPHOBIA (a few articles linked below from where some of these tidbits came):
- Make detailed plans–ones that I can visualize, and visualize my lesson the night before (and from a friend–visualize my visitor sitting in your room before my lesson). Visualize engagement, learning, kids laughing at my jokes, etc.
- Prepare my tech, my papers, my board, my material–have it all ready and in place.
- Be relaxed and natural and focus on getting kids into the “flow”.
- Remember the class is my domain. Say it to myself in my brain if necessary.
- Breathe–deeply, evenly, and slowly for a few minutes if I start to lose it. Slow down my thoughts, and keep my focus on students–ignore the person in the room.
- Encourage students, and don’t let misbehavior frazzle me–deal with it, project an energy that says I’m not frazzled or embarrassed, and move on.
- Be confident. Let my passion, skills, and rapport shine through.
- Quit stressing about being judged or defined by that snippet of time–what truly defines me as a teacher is much more than numbers in little boxes.
- Most of all, I think for me it’s important to realize that the people who come visit me are ultimately here to support me: they believe in me, and they legitimately want to see me find my best teaching self, and with that, there is something in it for me and ultimately my students.
I’m going to work on prioritizing this list for what to do before, during, and after evaluations in order to continue to focus on opportunities for growth. For now, though, I must sleep because who knows who will be in my class tomorrow. Have any tips yourself? I’d love to read them.
Links to Relevant Articles: