This was a fantastic idea. There's something very different about being observed when you want to be instead of by surprise. It's enjoyable and also really helpful when you're being observed for a particular reason. I got great feedback and they were able to instantly identify the different energy in my "low" class. Once again they performed lower than my other classes, but what they noticed was that I was checking if they understood more often than any of my other sections. I used "do you understand" 2-3 times more in that class than others.
What does this mean? I don't trust that class. It's only a week in and I already don't trust them. Why? I have no idea, but going forward it is something I'll be more intentional about monitoring going forward. More importantly, I'm going to work harder at trusting my kids to be honest with me about not understanding. Does that mean that I'll flat out believe them all the time? Absolutely not, but they deserve a little breathing room and at some point if they don't understand, they have to become comfortable asking me for help.
We all have classes like this. The problem is that I've labeled them and just that quick they are starting to internalize and become that label even though I've never said it out loud. Perhaps this is something we're all doing that we could pay a little more attention to.
Can it help your students by putting them into categories? That depends. It's good that I noticed something different early enough to try and fix it. That part of it is good for them. The part I need to figure out is how much of their under-performance is my fault? Probably a decent amount between the effectiveness of my teaching and the way I present it. That being said, the more I can eliminate negativity that I'm putting on them, the better.