I’m not a big fan of observation classes, mainly because I hate adults just staring at me while I try to teach my kids nervously. I don’t mind kids blankly staring at me but adults are another thing. There are two types of observation classes: one is when it’s Parent’s Day and parents visit their kids classrooms and then there is the one where staff from your school or others come watch you in action. Usually my supervisor is involved with these ones as well. The latter is definitely more nerve-wracking than the former.
Anyways, my JTE from my Thursday school told me in advance that we were going to have an observation lesson where the entire school staff was going to watch us teach the 1st years. I wasn’t too fazed because my Thursday school staff is friendly and we were going to be teaching the 1st years, the best class in my junior high.
When the day of the observation class finally arrived, my JTE also mentioned that my supervisor was going to be showing up. “Okay, a bit more nerve-wracking but it’s still doable,” I thought. As the day continued on, I was getting more and more tasks to do during the class, which was making me even more nervous because I had to memorize a lot of things in between classes. Finally, it was time for English class for the 1st years. When we walked in, I saw a bunch of people that I recognized, including my supervisor.
Then there was one familiar looking man that I could not remember where I knew him from. The JTE helped me solve the mystery:
“Oh, I didn’t know he was coming!”
“Who is he again? I know him from somewhere.”
“He’s from the Board of Education.”
Before I could gasp and curse the skies for such a terrible turn of events, the school chime rang, telling us that class had begun. Sure I could deal with my staff and my supervisor, but the BOE? When did such a thing turn so huge? I looked at my students who were all grinning nervously at me. It was clear that the JTE (who was also the homeroom teacher of the 1st years) had prepared them for today. Manami looked at me particular with a kind smile, as if she was trying to say “Don’t worry, everything will be okay!” I smiled back and we began to teach the class.
When my JTE showed me the lesson plan for that day, I had a feeling it was too bloated. Each activity was only going to be 5-7 minutes long and there was a long list of things to do. We were probably doing three times as much as we would do on an average day. Nevertheless, we were going to give it a shot. It went well for the most part. The focus of that day was the past tense and irregular verbs (like ate, made, drank, etc.) I started off by showing them the differences of the words. We then asked for volunteers to read sentences in front of the class. Tsu was happy enough to volunteer and came up to the front:
“Tsu, what did you eat last night?”
“Ah! I ate-o..”
“Eh? I ate-o”
“…” I knew she was probably just nervous. Some of the kids were giggling as well as the staff. I decided to abort and let her finish her sentence just to spare both of us the pain. “Not a great start, but we can still redeem it.” I said to myself.
Next up was playing a 3 Hint Quiz. Here the students would ask each other questions in relation to the past tense like “What did you watch last night?”. Then they would write a few sentences describing someone they interviewed. In the end, all the sheets were given to me and someone would read off the hints. The students would guess who the person being described was. It’s a game we’ve done before and the kids seem to like it. It went really well for the most part. Ina was being Ina though and while I was collecting papers, she pulled the sheet away from me saying “No, you’re not getting it. I’m only giving it to the JTE.”
“Eh? Give it to me.”
“Are you seriously doing this in front of everyone?” I thought to myself. I jokingly called her a jerk and yanked the sheet away from her. As I was walking back to the front, I could see Tsu waving to me:
“Helllooo! Long time no see!” I waved back and chuckled. Tsu was being Tsu, despite what was going around us. I still wonder how Tsu and Ina manage to not strangle each other seeing that they are completely different from each other. I guess it’s a yin/yang kind of thing.
After collecting the sheets, I could see Manami looking at me curiously. “Everyone is nervous, aren’t they?” she asked.
“Yeah, no kidding. Yet all of you are still acting like yourselves.” I nervously chuckled.
“Is that bad?”
“No, not at all.” It was true. I’m glad they weren’t acting fake just because we were all being watched by important people. I’ve heard stories where my friend’s classrooms would usually be a disaster but then everyone would shape up just for the observation class. It was so stupid because no one could see what the classroom was really like. My 1st years are a good group and I wanted to show everybody that. If anything, their personalities made teaching them a lot more fun. When we got into the swing of things, the whole class went pretty well I think. The only hiccup was trying to explain the rules of Go Fish; the staff and the students were really confused. It took awhile to get them to understand but we got there. I’d like to think I got bonus points when Manami’s group was asking me how to play and after I explained it and someone got it right, we all applauded and cheered. It felt like forever but the class eventually ended.
I decided to eat with my 1st years for lunch. I sat with Manami’s group and thanked them for the effort they made. Lunches with the 1st years are pretty good, although communicating can be a bit tougher. Part of my meal included some bread and jam. The topic of Anpanman came up and we all decided to try to make his face on our bread. The results were pretty disastrous but we all had a good laugh.
I heard from our JTEs that we were to meet with the BOE and my supervisor in my principal’s office after lunch. I only understand a little bit from their review of the class but it seemed like it was mostly positive. The only bad thing was the Go Fish segment, but I had already known. Later on in the day, the entire staff gave their thoughts about the class and it was nothing but praise…except for Go Fish segment. Finally, the JTEs stood up and gave their own opinion on the class. I was simply listening until I heard someone say my name:
“Please say a few words about what you thought about the class!”
“Uhhh…..” I had no idea that I had to do such a thing, let alone in Japanese! I tried my best but stumbled a bit. I think I ended up saying “Everyone really try their best and I was happy. Their pronunciation was good. Well…sometimes it was bad but that’s okay. *5 second pause* That’s all!” By the end of the speech, I was exhausted. I decided to walk around the school, only to run into my 2nd years with Kouki. They all attempted to wrestle me down to the ground but I counter all of their attacks until one of the JTEs scolded them. Before I could relax, Tsu grabbed my shoulders from behind and screamed. I returned the favor by scaring her while she was talking to a friend. I think I got closer to my 1st years due to the crazy observation lesson. All in all, it was a tiring day but I still had a lot of fun.