a horror story from the trenches of student teaching

My very first teacher observation was during my first semester of student teaching in a resource room for kids with learning disabilities.

I remember it well because it was traumatic.

I hadn't previously met the man who came to do my observation; he was part of the college faculty in the education department, but not my instructor.

Anyhow, I had a great lesson planned. I was going to teach a small group (just two first graders) about telling time to the hour. FIRST MISTAKE. Don't ever teach time or money while being observed. Just trust me.

As the man observed, my lesson spiraled downhill in a sort of out-of-control, catastrophic disaster of epic proportions. At least, that's what it felt like at the time. The kids totally didn't get it, and I wasn't on top of their impulsive and distractable behaviors.

When he pulled me into the library so he could talk about my lesson, I knew that it hadn't gone well and as soon as he started talking, I burst into tears.

And soon my tears in front of this stranger turned into little sobs. Then bigger sobs. Then I was so embarrassed that I wanted to die!

He sat in stone-like silence during my whole meltdown. When it seemed like I was maybe starting to breathe normally again, he asked very stoically: "Are you finished?"

His complete lack of compassion was so shocking. I sat there, mute, as he calmly went over my lesson. When he was done, I didn't know if I would ever teach again.

I'm happy to report that I did teach again... And teacher observations no longer scare me (I don't know how I could do worse than that first one).

What's your worst teacher observation horror story?

14 comments:

Kelly said...

Wow, that guy does not sound very nice. During student teaching, especially the 1 day practicum times, I had a lot of fail moments. However, my most memorable "fail" was my first year teaching- I was teaching math, I can't remember the concept. But after my FANTASTIC lesson, I told the kids what to do at their seat... and then a sweet little boy raised his hand:

"I don't get it"

and with that, a nice chorus of, "I don't either" and "yea, I don't get it!" etc. Oops.

cc said...

Okay..here goes. I have been teaching a lonnngg time. I was up for my observation to make matters worse I was just named TEACHER OF THE YEAR (statewide). My "boss" came in....I froze...yup...froze..deer in the headlight frozen...
I was so well prepared for my lesson, but NOTHING would come out of my mouth. I walked out of the room. I told my boss to just flunk me, and I would sign the observation form. He laughed. Said, he would just stop by another time. That was a few years ago. But I STILL live in fear!!!

Bellismom said...

I'm working on my MA in Special Ed right now and I have never been observed yet because I haven't started my student teaching yet, I've just been doing small lessons with one student at a time. My very first time working with a student was during a math lesson. They were working on shapes and it had been YEARS since I had even thought about shapes. Well I told him the wrong name of a shape (I think I told him hexagon instead of heptagon) and the teacher overheard me and corrected me. She was really nice about it but I was so embarrassed! I know that's nothing compared to your but I think since it was my first experience it just seemed so much worse to me.

teachermum said...

I was so nervous the first time I was observed I made spelling mistakes on the board. I remember one of them was cloud (can you believe I spelt cloud wrong...clowd") and I remember her sitting there with her pointy face going "ooh ooh ooh"
I think to this day when ever I make a spelling list with ou words I leave out "cloud" as the hair on the back of my neck stands up as I shudder at the memory.

Sparkling said...

I don't have a horror story but more of a funny one. I was being observed by an assistant principal who had never been in my room before. He chose to sit next to one of the biggest slugs in the class. Miraculously, the boy actually had all of his stuff that day and was mildly prepared.

Each time I would shift to another phase of an activity, the AP would lean over the boy and ask where he got the flash cards or how he knew which words I was talking about, etc. Each time, the kid would look at him in exasperation and tell him that he made the cards, he was using the vocab sheet, etc.

He must have interrupted the kid like 5 times to ask these inane questions and the kid had this look like he thought the AP was the dumbest human being ever. I thought it was great because this is a kid who never did much and I was shocked he actually had his stuff that day. And to be pestered like this was such awesome payback for this kid!

Cortney said...

The head of the school, Pam, likes to come and do observations randomly at our school. She seems to frequent my room though. Earlier this year when I applied for the Assistant Principal position my principal said to me, "You have to show her you are more than just the teacher that is always is the bathroom"...I'll explain. Pam makes me so nervous when she comes in because she asks me questions and I end up stuttering and second guessing myself that I resort to retreating from the room when she comes in and I leave her with my staff instead. So when she comes in I grab a student and declare, "Oops, he has to use the bathroom, I'll be right back"...I've done this 3 times so she now think of me as the bathroom teacher. Oh well.

Anonymous said...

Would you please send me the data from your observation. I would love to read Dr. Frankenstein's evaluation of your lesson...

Anonymous said...

I have many observation tales, none with drama, however, many are funny, ironic, and telling. However, being a teacher and not an administrator, I know if I started writing about one I would go on FOREVER with one run-on sentence after another and eventually my readers would drift, fall asleep, or ask to use the restroom. Where should I begin...Ya, the key is to bore the observer into submission or make him or her the focal point of the room...a sore thumb sort of where they feel soooooo uncomfortable they can't wait to get out or your room AND NEVER COME BACK!!!! Humiliation is good as well. Give the observer the same assignment and watch them sweat bullets. One prearranged observation I gave every student a tie to wear and the kids would use the slooow clap whenever I made a secret sign. Another class I gave all the answers to my prearranged questions and the administrators thought we were genius. I love teaching and I love tenure!!!

Shell said...

That is horrible!

I was observed 2 days before I had my first baby.

Charlotte said...

Student teaching was not my favorite thing to do. I was teaching physics to high school students not much younger than myself. If I had any bad observations, I've blocked them completely.

~A said...

Ahh!

Okay, you're freaking me out. I start student teaching next week... and my observers will be nice, right? RIGHT? AH!

And Shell? Two days before you had a baby? Now you're tough, girl.

Maranda said...

Oh no! That's horrible!!! I'm glad you moved past it and taught again.

Anonymous said...

wow - i'm glad i'm not the only one. I decided to teach writing for my first observed lesson of student teaching today and am absolutely horrified that it didn't go that well. i was so nervous....i just googled 'student teacher horror stories' - and found this thread. thank you teachers!! it feels good to know i'm not alone.

eek said...

I did the same thing; Google student teaching horror stories. Had an observation today and it was horrible! Lesson was on America west. Kids asked me questions you would think I should know the answer to. They caught me off guard. Luckily my master teacher stepped in and helped answer the questions :( I felt so dumb.

Newer Posts Older Posts Home