Teacher observations are an opportunity to assess and evaluate the teaching and learning environment within a classroom setting. Observers are not only introduced to a teacher’s particular approach to instructing their lessons, but also examine how their methods and techniques are received by their students. My teacher observation experience was not a traditional in class observation but instead a video observation of a live classroom session. Mr. Avram Barlowe, a high school History teacher at the Urban Academy in New York, NY, focused his classroom discussion on the post-civil war era and how former black slaves viewed their new freedom during America’s Reconstruction. Barlowe’s philosophy and approach to teaching is known as an inquiry-based method, which is an educational environment consisting of group discussions and collaborative learning. Barlowe believes in learning through interaction and focuses on his students developing their own individual identity and voice as well as constructing new ideas through the support and communication amongst their classmates. His role in the session was more of a facilitator rather than a lecturer where he would ask various open-ended questions to create more conversation and to challenge his students to continuously seek a deeper level of ideas and thoughts.
The classroom infrastructure was set up in a round table setting which allowed each student to have eye contact with one another. Each student was given a pamphlet of various passages and statements related to the topic that were used as the basis and source to their opinions and thoughts in the discussion. On one particular part of the session, Barlowe asked a very general question to his students on how they would define freedom. As the students were describing their personal definition of freedom, I found it quite amazing how respectful they...