Today it started. The day I've been dreading since September. Strangers entered our building. They came to see what was "wrong" with our schools. So far, it hasn't been so bad. So what happens inside the audit? I'll tell you. Who knows? It might be your school or your child's school next year.
We were told they would arrive very early, as in up to an hour before the first bell at 7:25AM. Instead, they arrived about five minutes after the first bell. They came in as a pack and ventured to the room of our wonderful resource coordinator who had the pleasure of hosting the auditors in her room for the entire week. As they filed down my hall, I made sure to look every auditor in the eye, smile and say "Good Morning!" They weren't going to see me with my spirits down. This is a positive visit. They are here so we can show them how wonderful we are.
We were told to leave our doors unlocked* and stay in our room during our planning period. With about twenty minutes to go in first period, my planning period, a man entered my room and introduced himself. "Oh good," I thought. "Now I can get my interview over with!" I was told the interview would be ten minutes. It took until the bell rang for my planning with the man apologizing profusely for taking up my planning time. It turns out each auditor has a specific focus they are there to discuss. Instead of talking about myself, I was talking about the safety and interventions available at my school. And then he did something I was not expecting. He looked through my entire binder. I was so happy. I put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into that thing. Seeing it put to use was quite a rewarding moment.
I was asked about programs in place to help students in need, we have many. I was asked about interventions available through school, again, we have many. I was asked how we assign students to these programs and interventions and discussed our school's stress on diagnostic assessments. Overall, the man looked very surprised during my interview. I came to find out I wasn't the only one experiencing an interview like this. One of my coworkers was told by an auditor "Honestly, I'm not exactly sure why we are here."
As second period began, I reminded my kids that we were in the audit and that someone they don't know may come in the room. I told them to just act like normal and continue with what they are doing rather than badgering the person who entered. With about 25 minutes left in the class, I heard my door open. I didn't need to turn around. I knew there was an auditor in the room. We were in groups to do group ORQs. One of my students turned his head slowly and said "Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhould we use evidence from the whole play or just the part we read today?" He really stretched out that "Shhh" and tried to blend it in like that was just how he talks. Kids are adorable. They did well and got their work finished, scrambling to finish as the bell rang. The man smiled and said "It takes a brave soul to teach freshmen!" Indeed it does, but he seemed genuinely pleased with the lesson!
My next observation occurred during fourth period. My fourth and fifth periods were knocked off track by the early dismissal last week, so they had to take the diagnostic assessment that they missed. As this new auditor walked in, a woman this time, my students were all quietly working on the test. She walked around for a few minutes, watched my kids, examined my lesson plans and agenda before leaving after ten minutes.
Overall, I'm feeling good about the day. The auditors I met were friendly and gracious. Hopefully the rest of the week goes as well.
*I hate leaving my door unlocked. It's a classroom management issue to me. If a student is tardy and attempting to get in without a tardy note, I have no recourse other than holding the handle, and that's if I catch it in time. I also feel it is a safety issue if we were to have an intruder in the building, I could waste time locking the door instead of securing my students. However, those in charge of the audit requested our doors unlocked, so I obliged.