7 Tips for Teachers Going Through an Observation

No matter how long you’ve been a teacher, few things are as nerve-racking as being observed by your school principal while teaching a class. The longer you teach, the more comfortable you’ll feel being observed and critiqued for your instruction style, classroom management, presentation, organization, and other skills that measure quality teaching. You’ll have good ones and bad ones, but the goal is to learn from each observation experience and always strive to be better the next go-round. Here are seven tips for teachers going through an observation:

  1. Know your observer:

    Before your observation takes place, try to get to know your observer and see how they’ve handled past observations. Talk to your colleagues about their observation experience and ask for tips. If this isn’t your first observation, then refer back to previous observation reports, paying special attention to recommendations for improvement.

  2. Have a structured lesson in place:

    It’s important to always have a structured lesson or activity in place the day you’re being observed. It also helps to give students a heads up as to what they’ll be doing on this important day, so no one is caught off guard and they come prepared to participate.

  3. Schedule wisely:

    If you have a say in the scheduling of your classroom observation, choose wisely. Pick a good class and subject area that you know well and best showcases your strengths as a teacher. Know that you may not get the exact date or class time that you request, so always suggest a couple of options that will work in your favor.

  4. Emphasize punctuality:

    If you’re a middle school, high school, or college teacher, it’s important to enforce punctuality on the day of your observation. Be sure to give your students a heads up that you will be having a visitor and emphasize how important it is that they be present and on time to class out of courtesy to the visitor.

  5. Stay away from group work:

    Regardless of what grade level you teach, assigning group work on the day of your observation can be risky. Not only does assigning group work fail to show the scope of your pedagogic skills, but students typically lose focus and get off track when they’re put into groups. Instead, have students work independently, and conduct a group discussion to maintain good classroom control and keep your kids focused.

  6. Make the observer feel welcomed:

    Making the observer feel welcomed and involved can help you perform better. In addition to greeting and introducing your visitor to the class, give him or her a seat in the front row or spot in the discussion circle. Doing so will keep you on your toes and make the experience feel a lot less invasive.

  7. Create a relaxed atmosphere:

    On observation day, try to create a relaxed, yet orderly atmosphere. Ideally, you want students to be engaged and eager to respond, while maintaining a clear focus and agenda for the lesson. Students often feel as though they are the ones being judged by the observer and are therefore resistant to speak up. Creating a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere will hopefully put you and your students at ease, and allow for more natural, open-ended discussions.

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