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Teacher Observations?

 
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Fitzgerald



Joined: 10 Aug 2010
Posts: 184

PostPosted: Thu Feb 06, 2014 11:21 pm    Post subject: Teacher Observations? Reply with quote

Seeking enlightenment here. I have been puzzled for the past three years that my "prestigious" Mexican employer, the Tecnologico de Monterrey, does not, at least in the prepa on my campus, conduct any teacher observations. I have never had another adult in my classroom during those three years. Now, don't get me wrong - I love the freedom that this brings me, and like many teachers, I am not crazy about being observed (it always seems to happen on the wrong day). But without a system of observation and subsequent professional evaluation, how is the school making so much as a gesture in the direction of quality control? As far as I can tell, the only information inputs into my annual evaluations are the student evaluations, which are viewed almost religiously here, but which I think in themselves are completely inadequate to judge the caliber of a teacher's pedagogy.

I have asked about this a number of times, and have always been told "We don't do that here" and "No one has time." That seems supremely lame to me. If no one has visited my classroom because no one actually cares what goes on in my classroom, I think that is very bad. Unfortunately, it would be consistent with my sense of the institution being much more focused on its marketing than on safeguarding the quality of the product it is marketing.

How about the rest of you? Do you get observed? Or is it not common in Mexico? What is your take on this subject?
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donato



Joined: 05 May 2010
Posts: 97
Location: Mexico City, Mexico

PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2014 2:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If everything else is good I wouldn't complain. Why be upset when someone else may have a different idea of how things should be done. There are worse things to complain about.
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Guero1



Joined: 20 Dec 2013
Posts: 34

PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Observations, however arbitary they may be, are always a good source of feedback and may provide an insight into a different perspective into how you(we) actually teach. Shame you don't have any in my opinion, it is a great development tool.

Seriously, if it is a problem that you don't have many, then ask if you can film your own class and do some retrospective observations. A reflective practicioner is a better teacher in the long run.
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donato



Joined: 05 May 2010
Posts: 97
Location: Mexico City, Mexico

PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2014 1:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also good points. What's bad is that often places will observe and won't give any feedback.
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Phil_K



Joined: 25 Jan 2007
Posts: 1926
Location: A World of my Own

PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2014 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think students' feedback is way more important than supervisors feedback. I'm definitely in the "judge me on my results, not on my method" camp.
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philipjmorgan42



Joined: 08 Feb 2013
Posts: 29

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was never observed at the Tecnologico de Monterrey either. In fact, they didn't even properly observe me when they wanted a demo class, my soon to be boss disappeared out of the room about 5 minutes in and didn't come back.

Like you say, their strategy is basically to go with whatever the students want. I had one nightmare class when I was there. The students complained about me being too strict (when I caught some of them doing science homework in my class, I took it off them and threw it away, which I didn't think was unreasonable...) so my boss told me I had to change my approach...She didn't come and observe me or give me any help on trying to get 25 raucous students to stay quiet for more than one minute at a time...

Another teacher got multiple complaints on more than one occasion about his classes - students didn't think they were being taught right, he kept showing them videos all the time etc. Same thing. All she did was tell him he needed to be doing x, y, z. Didn't go and observe his classes to see for herself what was happening in the classroom.
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philipjmorgan42



Joined: 08 Feb 2013
Posts: 29

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with you about the importance of observations. Personally, I hate being observed. But for teachers without much experience, feedback from another teacher can really help you improve and stop making mistakes.

As far as I know private language schools are the only places that observe, 2 out of the 4 schools I worked for observed me, they don't seem to do observations in the public uni where I work now...
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boomerexpat



Joined: 15 Apr 2012
Posts: 130
Location: Mexico

PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I teach a class at one of the Tech campuses and have never been observed. My department only uses student evaluations of teachers. you have to score 1.5 to 1 to be rehired.

Consequently, teachers hand out A's like they were candy at Halloween.
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demishout



Joined: 05 Mar 2014
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 4:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find that speaking to other teachers and hearing out their advice helps a lot in improving yourself as a teacher. Whether it's poor or good advice, you can always turn it to your benefit by employing where you best see fit.

Feedback from students is generally more reliable as they see you every class whereas a one time observation from management wouldn't ever get the whole picture.
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lagringalindissima



Joined: 20 Jun 2014
Posts: 83
Location: Tucson, Arizona

PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2015 5:21 am    Post subject: my view.. Reply with quote

I taught at a TEC; my branch was really just a scam. The charged sky high tuition, but then they refused to admit that student behavior was out of control--since that might mean punishing students whose parents had paid-- so no learning could occur.

About the evaluation system:
When I was hired I was told if you don't get good student evaluations you aren't re-hired. I thought that sounded great..they value student feedback above all else, and who better than the kids in the classes to evaluate the teachers?

What actually happened..
I grew up fast and immediately learned why high school student evaluations are NOT always useful in determining if teachers get re-hired or not Smile.

I had extreme behavior issues.. such as kids urinating out the window. I asked administrators to observe me and give me feedback-- so I could try to get things under control-- but they refused. So I did the next best thing; I required students to use journal writing time to give me feedback. I gave everyone (even absent kids) the points for that entry and required them to turn in the page with no name. I did that so they could/would be honest.

I got:
Absolutely glowing feedback from almost all girls..and I mean literally comments (and many of them) like "everything is perfect".

Typical snarky teen comments (that were also useless in helping me improve) like "you don't follow the rules..if we finish early, we can go..". Yup, that is a TEC rule. But they would declare us "done" when I did not agree and when they had behaved horrificly..so I wouldn't let them go.

ONE kid gave me actual useful feedback..he said (100% correctly) "all you do is tell us the rules of the class; I want you to teach the content of the class".

So this was not helpful even just for my information--let alone to decide if I should be re-hired-- but there is an even bigger problem here. I had students urinating out of the window, but if these bad been my actual evaluations I had:
51% glowing (one or two boys sided with all girls)

15% just neutral ("the class is okay..but it could be better")

4% just filled with silliness ("I like your clothes, but WHY can't I go to the bathroom whenever I ask?? And WHY isn't my average 10/10??") that should just be thrown out.

30% negative

plus not all of the negative ones were awful..some just said "You are nice but it's too loud in the room.."

So based on that..I should have been re-hired Smile. The students liked me so I was effective..the end. And my understanding is that is how the TEC system works.

In summary..
TEC won't help you if your classroom is so out of control it's dangerous

You can't get an observation at TEC even if you ask for one--and even if you asked for one because both you and they mutually agree you have major problems that need to be addressed.

Using only student feedback to decide who gets re-hired isn't really effective.
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BadBeagleBad



Joined: 23 Aug 2010
Posts: 1013

PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2015 9:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree. Just because your students like you and give you good feedback doesn´t mean you are a good teacher. It can often mean just the opposite. I know of teachers who talk a big game, but when you observe thier class it is mediocre at best. But they play games with the students or give them good grades so the (the students) are happy. But the class can still be crap. My last job in Mexico City was observing teachers and giving them feedback on how to improve, because (gasp!!!) the company actually wanted students to progress and learn, so teachers had to teach. The teacher I got the most ¨complaints¨ about was actually one of the most effective, and when I went to talk to the complainees, they would almost without exception admit the teacher was excellent, they were just lazy.
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