1. Begin with a desire to be an even better teacher.
2. Realize that working alone you may not have a full, accurate perspective on yourself and your own teaching.
3. Invite a trusted a colleague to observe your teaching and then share data.
4. Before the observation, discuss which of the following techniques would be best for you at this time. (Each has a different purpose. The choice depends on the type of information that will be most useful to you.)
5. After the observation is done (and class is over), meet with the observer and discuss the data gathered.
6. Use this data as the basis for understanding and making decisions about your teaching.
Determine what teachers and students say to each other and how they say it.
In pre-observation conference, select an aspect of classroom discourse to focus on (e.g., teacher questions, student responses, etc.). Observer writes down word-for-word only those aspects of classroom discourse.
Find out who is partcipating in class and who is not by determining who says things and to whom.
Teacher (or observer) prepares seating chart of class in advance. Each student is represented by a box with his/her name. The teacher (T in a circle) is at the top of the chart. Observer draws an arrow on the chart every time someone in the class asks a question or gives an answer.
|General teacher questions (to whole class) look like this.
|Individual teacher questions (to a specific student) appear as down arrows in that student's box.
|Individual student responses or comments appear as up arrows in that student's box.
Determine whether students are paying attention or doing what the teacher assigned (and which students are and are not) by noting which kinds of behaviors are actually happening.
Teacher (or observer) prepares seating chart of class in advance. Each student is represented by a box with his/her name. Down the side of the box are numbers (one for each "sweep" of the class, up to 20). There is an empty box at the top of the chart for noting the beginning time of each sweep.
Observer sits at the front of the classroom and "sweeps" it by looking at each student in turn for just a few seconds (three to five), long enough to decide if he/she is . . .
A. Actively/overtly on task
P. Passively on task
H. Receiving help from teacher
O. Overtly off task
The corresponding letters are written in that student's box next to the number for that "sweep." Then the observer moves on to the next student.
Track the path of the teacher's movement around the classroom and discover which and how many students he/she interacts with (and which students are ignored).
(Note: Especially suited to classrooms where there is a lot of teacher movement, e.g. information gap activities with pairs. )
Teacher (or observer) prepares a rough map of the class in advance. As the teacher moves around the room, the observer draws in arrows to indicate this movement. Whenever the teacher stops to interact with a student, the observer draws a circle at that spot and writes a number in it to show the sequence.
(Note: It is possible to track students also.)
Discover patterns of teacher behavior and speech (e.g., lecturing, questioning, responding.)
Warning: This can become quite complicated!
In a pre-observation conference, teacher and observer produce a category system appropriate to the teacher's style and concerns and what the teacher and students will be doing on the day of the observation.
F = Expressing feelings
P = Giving praise
E = Giving encouragement
L = Lecturing
D = Giving directions
C = Criticizing
Q = Questioning
I = Sharing an idea
U = Using (an idea)
R = Restating a previously expressed idea
Caution: Don't use the same letter for two different categories.
Upper-case letters are used for the teacher; lower case for the students. For example:
Q r Q i U i E i E
Time (hour and minute) can also be added to the sequence.
(9:15) Q r Q i U(9:16) i E i E (9:17)
These data can also be graphed like this:
To add a third dimension to the data, notations can be made on a seating chart. That way the data will show who did what types of interacting.
Get the "big picture" (to determine needs for future observations)
Using a "wide lens" without any particular focus, the observer records "everything" (of interest) that happens. He/she uses an anecdotal approach (short, descriptive sentences) to document classroom events. He/she tries to remain as objective as possible (e.g., "Mike is out of his seat. John is talking." not "This class is out of control!").