Last year, the coaches and specialists used to talk about the teachers who hated being observed. There were the nervous ones who were always shaky. The coaches wondered what these teachers were hiding if they were so uncomfortable in their own skin. Then there were the ones who walked up and talked to the observers, making excuses and asking questions the whole time.
I always kept my mouth shut during those conversations, because I felt like they were describing me. These were the conversations I was afraid of, because they confirmed my suspicions as a teacher - that the Clipboard Crew, even the nicest members, were evaluating me. Don't get me wrong, they didn't have evaluative power, but in observing me, they were assessing me.
So, this year I have had four or five people come by to observe. They've been nice people, good people, folks who want to help teachers improve. But each time, I have grown nervous. I have felt edgy. I have been afraid; though I couldn't pinpoint exactly why.
I've had three requests today for teachers to come observe my classroom in order to pick up some pointers. They want to see rigor or critical thinking or thematic units or tech integration. They want to see something bold and powerful and different and . . . I'm still being interrupted by students. I'm still getting impatient. I'm still trying to figure out how to do projects with my group.
When that happens, I feel like my reputation has gotten bigger than the reality of my classroom. My response is typically, "It's nothing special," which is a lie, because education is special and powerful and a whole lot of things. What it's not is perfect. It's early September. We're still learning the dance moves.
What I want to say to them is, "If you knew the number of mistakes I made each day, you probably wouldn't want to see my classroom." It leaves me with this nagging feel of potentially being "found out" as a teacher who still doesn't have it together.
And that's the fear. That's the part I worry about. That's why I so often want to be left alone. I'm avoiding the fear that if they saw my imperfections, if they grasped my humanity, if they realized I wasn't as big as my reputation has become, they would be disappointed.
The crazy part is this: The only people I should be worried about are the ones who already know the real me, the human me, the one who messes up and has to apologize and bumbles my way around projects. In other words, the only opinion that matters is that of my students.