Monday, June 27, 2011

About Sam

Sam's being even bolder than usual and doing a video analysis. And because I was the lucky person who happened to be online AND because I finally get to be on a summer schedule I got to play too.

Yeah, I got invited to see Sam teach. Nanananbooboo. 

Ignore what he says, dude has got all sorts of awesomeness, not all of which come across on his blog. A lot of my favorite parts were things that blogs just don't capture.You don't write about your hand motions. Like his "I need silence now" pose and his "Okay go" action. You don't convey the different intonations and vocal expressions. His "secret preview of college life whisper" or his "Let's talk about these easy problems and then those other ones." I know I'm not enough of the author to convey those details. And bet that everyone who reads the words will come up with a slightly different way to imagine Sam saying them. (Even among the people who know him.)

Sam wanted feedback, so I took notes in a table with three columns: +, Δ, and ?. Skimming back through, it's likely that half of the positives won't be as helpful as they should be (which awesome hand motion am I talking about) and too many in the positive column ended up being half positive and half deltas. I was surprised by how many suggestions I had. A lot of it could be different teaching styles, so I'll be curious what turns out to be meaningful for him.

I didn't feel like I was taking that many notes, but when I look back, my form filled about 3 pages. (And even though not every column was filled in all the way, that's a respectable amount of writing from me.) I'm really hopeful that my feedback will be useful PD for him.

Meanwhile, it's also useful PD for me. Watching other teachers is like the blogging PD on steroids. Partly for the things I should steal, like those hand motions. Partly for the bits of myself that I recognize and should change. Like pacing so much it becomes distracting.

And while observing anyone is helpful, it was super-duper-cool to be observing SAM. I mean, we started teaching and blogging at the same time. I've followed his classroom for years. Because of that I could hear comments the students said and know they were Shah-isms and what they were talking about. That made it better than a video-library where I don't have a relationship with the teacher. But it's also cool because Sam and I have never met. With teacher-friends who I know in real life, I'll know what sort of mannerisms to expect, so I won't pay as much attention to them. Totally didn't know those about Sam, which is probably why I was so excited to see them. I think the community we have gives a unique insight to observations that's near impossible to build elsewhere.

I'm not teaching much now. Awesome funding means I'm not even TAing that frequently. But when I'm back in the classroom again, I'll challenge myself to the unique form of torture feedback. Sam, we'll switch roles.


  1. Like so many of Sam's fans, I am dying to learn more about his awesome hand gestures. Please, tell us more!

    - Elizabeth (aka @cheesemonkeysf on Twitter)

  2. Hahaha, I think torture is the right word. I was hoping someone on the other side would blog about what the process was for the reviewer, and if there was take away.

    One thing that I believe strongly in is that when we see other people teach, we are secretly seeing how WE teach. And our comments, insights, etc., are really reflections of ourselves. Our thoughts when we see others teach tell us more about ourselves than they do about the other person.

    I was lucky to be on the other side of watching 3 other teachers teaching videos at Klingenstein, and I was surprised at how much I was taking away for myself.

    Thanks again!