Last week, I spent an entire blog entry singing the praises of my boss and telling y’all how much I trust her.
I wasn’t lying. I do trust her. I enjoy her visits to my classroom. I have a good time with her. But there are moments when I really don’t want to see her, and Thursday morning was one of them.
Thursday morning was my semiannual observation.
Intellectually, I know my boss isn’t going to torch me on an evaluation. That’s not how she operates. She sees me doing cool stuff with the kids several times a week and consistently praises my lessons. But I had a bad experience with an evaluation my first year teaching, and 22 years later, it still bothers me.
In 1997, I worked in a district where teachers got one observation a year, with no warning, at any time our boss chose. My then-boss — we’ll call her “Dolores” — chose Halloween.
HALLOWEEN. She observed a first-year teacher ON HALLOWEEN.
The kids behaved precisely as you’d expect. Dolores gave me precisely the kind of evaluation you’d expect — and then used it as an excuse not to renew my contract for the following year.
I swore off teaching for the next 10 years.
When I came back to the profession in fall 2008, I had a principal I trusted implicitly. He knew I was nervous. He knew why. He tried to reassure me. But I shook the whole time he was observing me, remembering the Halloween Debacle of ’97.
I’ve gone through this same anxiety with every evaluation I’ve ever had, even though I’ve gotten consistently positive feedback.
I hate that. But I’m making progress.
I wasn’t thinking clearly when I signed up for a Thursday observation this semester. We’re on a four-day schedule, which meant I wouldn’t get feedback until Monday at the earliest.
I was thinking clearly when I deliberately chose a Tuesday follow-up meeting instead of Monday. It seemed unfair to subject my boss to an unnecessarily tight deadline just to coddle my hangups. And frankly, I’m sick of letting Dolores influence my life 22 years later. So I signed up for this afternoon and spent the weekend trying not to climb walls.
I’m not enjoying the stress. But I’m handling it, which I couldn’t have done 10 years ago. I’m calling that a win, regardless of the score I get this afternoon. (ETA: My score was fine. My meeting was pleasant. All is well. Emily 1, Dolores 0.)