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Spend A Semester In My Head

December 2, 2015

I have a pretty good relationship with the universities near my school – they tend to send pre-service teachers to check out my classes as part of their observation hours. This semester was no exception – I had a pre-service teacher come twice a week to watch my freshmen intervention classes.

Whenever I have observers, I give them a notebook during class to write down any questions they have about something they see in class but don’t really have an opportunity to ask about. Why did I answer this student’s question a certain way? Why did I handle this interaction a certain way? Why is the classroom arranged like this? Why did you teach this lesson in this way? What was going through your head when this happened? I imagine what it would be like if my room was being videotaped and we were watching the replay – the notebook has all of the questions they would want to ask during the replay, but can’t because we’re not actually recording my class.

The result is usually an interesting relic of things that have happened in my class – moments that I reacted to and hints at the lesson I was teaching. It’s also a reflection of the types of issues and questions that the observer has as they watch – are they looking with an eye to classroom management? to instructional delivery? to classroom arrangement? to curriculum choices? Are the questions big and philosophical and reflective and ideological? Or are they detail-oriented and logistical and fine-tuned to specific aspects of my classroom?

The pre-service teacher in my room this year had some pretty stellar questions (she’ll be an awesome teacher one day), which led to about 40 handwritten pages of me reflecting on lots of things in my classroom this semester. On re-reading the entire notebook, I realized it captures a lot of thoughts and beliefs and tangible things I do in my classroom as a 5th year teacher working mostly with intervention students. So,  I decided I wanted to immortalize it here in this post since I think it’s pretty fascinating and it’s another artifact in my curious evolution as a teacher, which has pretty much been entirely documented on this blog.

So – if you’re interested, here’s the entire question-and-answer notebook in a single document from Scribd:

And here is each week separated into separate PDF files:








Hope its worth the read. Sorry/not sorry for my handwriting.

  1. Alex permalink

    This article is an absolute *gift.* I am a first-year math teacher and have been asking all of these questions to myself, but without the experience to know where my answers should/could be. I’m so grateful that you shared your thinking!


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