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How to Not Get Overwhelmed When a Lesson Is Being Modeled for You!
Judi Fenton

As a new teacher, you have probably been expected to go into an experienced colleagues’ classroom to see her teach something that she does fantastically well, that you will also soon be expected to do fantastically well. Or maybe you’ve had a coach or curriculum expert or supervisor come in to your classroom and make your own students act like little angels and produce work you’ve only dreamed of.

Don’t panic—There are some things you can do to avoid going back to your room and crying.

  1. Focus on only one or two things that you want to take back with you. It can be overwhelming for a new teacher to see an experienced colleague teach. All you notice is that she is getting the students to do things that you can’t yet get them to do. However, if you concentrate on how she is very clear when she gives directions, or how she conveys her expectations to the students, or how she communicates a specific skill to them, the visit will become less overwhelming and more of a learning experience for you.

  2. Ask the person who is modeling for you to coach you on the skill she is modeling. If you teach a lesson with her alongside you, she can plan with you, guide you during the lesson, and/or you can reflect afterwards on what you did well and what you need to change for next time. Not only can this help you with the specific skill, but you will find that you will begin developing the trust necessary to make this a productive professional relationship throughout your tenure at the school.

  3. Watch the lesson with a more experienced colleague. A more experienced teacher can break down the lesson for you and help you figure out what to focus on. He or she can also demystify the “magic” you are seeing by helping you see the relationships between what and how the teacher is asking and how the students are responding.

  4. Have realistic expectations of yourself. Please remember, you are new and these teachers have been teaching longer than you have. They have worked hard on whatever it is they are showing you, otherwise they probably wouldn’t be modeling it for you. You will get there. Just don’t expect to get there today (or even tomorrow).

Learning to be a great teacher is a process. Trust that you will one day be modeling a lesson for a new teacher too.

Do you have a comment or question about this article? E-mail Judi.


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