Monday, January 28, 2013

Embarrassing Moments

Today, as I was being observed (of course) by my principal, I made a total rookie mistake! I was teaching the students about how to find and navigate the primary sources in the Library Of Congress digital photographs archive, when to my horror, an inappropriate image came up on the BIG screen. I was stunned to find the image of a woman nursing when I put in the keyword "Drought" and "Dust Bowl", but there it was! Right there in front of 60 students and my principal. Luckily, I have the fastest hands in the MidWest, so I was able to gently move the image out of sight. I kept moving, demonstrating how to adjust keywords to change the search results. I don't think the students really saw anything...but it got me to thinking.

Why am I sharing this story? Well, it is a perfect way to start my first blog. 

I have been teaching for 10 years, and still, I get nervous when I am being observed. Still, no matter how much I plan the lesson, practice the delivery, try to create the best possible, most engaging lesson, I can not plan for all student responses. Meaning, when you pose a question to a group of students, you need to validate their answers by following through on their idea. Especially if their ideas are right on target. I did today, and instead of following a pre-planned, and safe link to a beautiful primary sourced image, I put in their keyword, and BAM! 

I guess I panicked because I was being formally observed by my principal. If I had been teaching on my own with the students, I would have moved the image out of direct sight, but I would have taken that moment as a teachable moment. I would have shared my surprise with my students, and I would have asked them what I should do now that I have found an inappropriate image in my search.

I feel strongly that students need to be taught about what to do in those situations. But, instead of going with my gutt, I chose to ignore it and move the lesson forward because I was being observed. Students don't always operated inside the filtered, uber safe school sanctioned internet. They explore. They search for answers. They use Youtube to solve problems. All of those quests to learn put them in danger of finding inappropriate images and content. So, we need to help them navigate those situations without judgement or punishment. 

Why do I change my teaching when I am being observed? Why can't I be my authentic self in the face of evaluation?