Being observed… by a peer!
At DLI we get observed at least once a semester. During my first year of working I’ve been observed more, than 30 times for sure: by my supervisor, by my team leader, by various training facilitators, by my collegues, by new teachers, by MIIS students, by teachers from the other departments, by DLI guests, by official representatives, by security people, by foreign delegations, etc. And yes – it’s always stressful. No matter who is watching you and for what purpose. Being observed is stressful. It’s stressful for me not because of the criticism I might receive at the end, but because during the lesson you have to perform this special double-thinking task. Double-thinking involves thinking about your lesson and thinking about what an observer is thinking about the lesson. It’s exhausting. It’s like having two mirrors and looking in both of them in the same time. My mental eyes get tired.
Surprisingly this time it was quite bearable. Mostly, because during the speaker-understander sessions my observer and I identified a similar problem we want to work on – teacher-centerness. Just as my observer, I couldn’t let my students be. I would give them a task and then would start interrupting them, bothering them and even performing the task for them. I shared it with my observer and he was quite understanding. In fact, he was the first one who admitted this weakness. The speaker-understander sessions are one of the crucial elements of peer-coaching, because while talking to each other, we open ourselves, we became all naked and vulnerable (metaphorically, of course). The fact that you know things about your observer and he shares something with you makes you feel safe. And even, afterward, when you talk together and see what parts of the lesson would need improvement, it doesn’t feel like criticism at all. It feels like you are solving one common problem and instead of double-thinking, you get only half-thinking! 🙂