About 15 minutes later, which should have been around the 7 mark, I was still trying to garner back attention. I had used my signature attention signal a good 3 times, and was pulling out others in the bag, in order to gather back lopsided ears and mustaches losing their stickiness. "Can we keep the mustaches?" was voiced more than once while many of the students continued to laugh and chat with their propped-out partners.
Experienced teachers will tell you that when it comes to the first evaluation, you should stick with the teaching approaches and routines that are already ingrained in your classroom. Wise advice. I'm pretty sure my team and at least one other teacher in my building mentioned something like this, "I just do what I usually do" - meticulously planned-out and written in formal lesson plan format perhaps being the only major upgrade. I'm also pretty sure I heard this advice and thought about it, but lack of experience or the anticipation of delivering a really engaging lesson and feeling the need to do something "different" seems to have overridden my system.
The idea was, and I think is still, a good one - put on the prop and 'become' the character, imagining the situation from his perspective, then switch props with your partner and transform into the other character's point of view. I had done turn and talks, so that concept wasn't entirely new; the loss of control - a normal occurrence in trying out new ideas, but not one that my principal didn't necessarily need to witness - happened because of the props, something I thought was a simple and engaging addition. Engaging, yes; simple, no.
What should I have done differently? Simply talking to my kids once beforehand about rules for the props wasn't nearly enough. The use of props, like any tool in the classroom, requires explicit modeling and guided practice before it can be released to students for use at an independent level. Working in pairs, and closely amongst other students, makes the need for a step-by-step procedure - passing out the props; using the props; and handing the props back over promptly - needs to be mastered, with behavioral expectations set far ahead of time.
I can hope that, despite the fact that my lesson dragged on as a result, that the remainder went much more smoothly. I'm pretty certain the individual assessment and quick group share went well - most were able to grasp the basic objective. But reaching that shore was choppy. Combing through my lesson to anticipate and plan well in advance for any new activities or routines, even those that seem to be a simple augmentation, would have been wise. Retrospect is everything!