I always hated lesson observations – not because I wasn’t a confident teacher, far from it in fact. I simply couldn’t stomach the nerves that came before them, even when I felt ready, prepared and everything was in order. So, what can you do to beat observation nerves?
Don’t Overthink It!
In my early teaching days, I often made mistake of securing the tablet trolley, printing QR codes, planning oodles of group work and hoping to dazzle the observer with a song and dance of a lesson. It should come as no surprise that this stuff often went wrong. The tablets weren’t properly charged. The QR codes wouldn’t scan and the group work often fell flat. Don’t do anything that you wouldn’t normally do for an observation. It’s disruptive for you and it’s disruptive for the students!
Nothing makes anxiety worse than dwelling on its cause. Plan your lesson, check it over and leave it alone. Make time to socialise, enjoy your hobbies and go and enjoy a coffee. You risk making needless changes and mistakes if you spend too much time on your planning – remember that this lesson should be treated like any other.
“What’s the Worst That Could Happen?”
Ask yourself what the worst outcome of an observation could be and then consider just how likely that is to happen – the chances are, not at all. If there’s a possibility that your worst fears could come to fruition… make allowances for it. If you know that you might lose your USB stick, email the lesson to yourself or put it on a cloud account. If you feel that an activity is a risk, could you do it another way? Remember, even if the worst happens, it’s one of many observations and you’ll have plenty of feedback to act upon for next time.
Command Your Adrenaline!
If anything is likely to get the adrenaline flowing, it’s a lesson observation. Use that adrenaline to offer the most engaging, lively and enthusiastic delivery you can instead of letting that anxiety get the better of you. Use that nervous energy to sail from table to table, from question to question and to deal with any and all hitches in your stride. Teachers, by their nature, are innovators and improvisors and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with thinking on your feet when an observer is in the room.
What are your thoughts? How do you overcome observation anxiety? What do you do to tackle those nerves before and after an observation?