Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Farm Animals Visit

Well, I was right. Not one person mentioned their new seats today. It's as if they've been sitting where they're at all year. Geez, and what a fuss they made yesterday!

Today brought its own interesting events, though. Today was our first "area walk-through." This is when the Area Instructional Officer (AIO) and her minions visit our school. This was not a surprise as our principal told us about it last week. Every time they visit, they have a focus question that they try to answer by the time they've completed their walk-through. This year's focus is something like: "Are students responding to text in a meaningful way, especially in reading notebooks in which the teacher provides meaningful feedback?" They don't visit every classroom, only ones selected. Our principal is professional enough to ask for volunteers before randomly selecting rooms. I volunteered. Better to get it overwith. Plus, my students respond to text in a meaningful way, especially in their reading notebooks in which I provide meaningful feedback.

The minions started the day by gathering us at a meeting at which they told us they were not their to evaluate us, but to help us. Mmm-hmmmm. These walk-throughs are total b.s. These people come to our school, like, 3 times a year, tell us we're great, tell us what we can improve, and then type up some b.s. report from which nothing ever comes. (Teachers at my last school called the AIO the "E-I-E-I-O." I hope this conjures up images of farm animals as this is how we pretty much few the AIO team and their absurd walk-throughs.) Anyway...

I told my students that we may have people visit the classroom today and to keep their reading notebooks out on their desks. This visit can be intimidating as it is a team of, like, 6 people walking in, observing, circulating, and asking kids questions. I told my kids not to worry about it. They weren't being graded or judged. They should just go about their business and answer any questions they're asked.

So we went about our day not knowing what time we would be visited. We did guided reading, began a writing session (in which we are doing the most FUN writing assignment: We are doing a cross-curricular project combining what we are learning about in science (plant adaptations) and what we are learning about in reading (tall tales) and writing stories involving exaggerated plant adaptations! It's SO fun!). Anyway....we were writing when I suddenly sensed tenseness in the classroom and heard whispers of, "The visitors are here! The visitors are here!" I almost laughed out loud. The kids calling them "the visitors" made it sound like they were talking about aliens (not too far off), and the way they said it made it sound like Paul Revere was announcing the arrival of the British. (Hmmm...sounds like the making of a new writing assignment: combining historical fact with science fiction!).

So the E-I-E-I-O people came and did their thing, walked around the classroom, pretended not to interrupt absolutely everything, and then left after 5 minutes. I hope they got everything they needed so they never have to come back and bother me with this bullshit for the rest of the year. What I'd really like to do is to "walk through" their office with my clipboard and pretend not to evaluate what's going on in there.

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