Yesterday, my principal came in for my 2nd formal evaluation this school year. Even though I’ve been teaching more than 23 years, I still get nervous. I even feel a bit stressed when another French teacher sits in on my class, as a peer. What will she think? Will I be effective? Will the students shine? How do I compare to her?
God was faithful to my prayers and the class went well. The 6th grade French students participated with enthusiasm and the content was rich and varied. I felt satisfied with the learning and reenforcement that took place.
Later in the evening, returning home after a meeting, I checked school email and found a very positive note from my principal, detailing his observation. He listed about 8 activities he had found commendable. He noted nothing but positive. The ‘atta-girl’ felt good.
My mind immediately darted back to the school day when I had written 4 emails to students, NONE of which contained observations of what they were doing well. The most positive was an acknowledgement that each had completed the prepatory homework assignment, but…..and then I launched into why I was writing. None of the four students had studied (either effectively or sufficiently). As a result they had done poorly on the morning’s French quiz. I pointed out why they performed poorly and what they could do to improve. But I did not highlight ANYWHERE else they were making progress in French.
Hmm. Some honest self-reflection brought a realization and a resolve. Just as I felt reassured and affirmed by hearing what I’m doing well, so too do my students.
As a result, this evaluation from my principal was not only a snapshot of where I am today but a positive motivator to me. I want to be intentional about looking for and pointing out the positive FIRST before providing those ‘helpful and corrective suggestions’. After all, ‘a teaspoon of sugar makes the medicine go down!’