Classroom Observation

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Properly conducted classroom observation is a powerful tool in the continuing professional development of teachers. The revised performance management arrangement for teachers, which came into force on 1 September, 2007, clearly set the expectation that classroom observations are to be developmental in nature and multi-purpose in usage. The Education ( School Teacher Performance Management) Regulations 2006 state that the total period of classroom observation allowed per performance management cycle should not exceed three hours and, in many cases, will be less, depending on individual circumstances. The performance management regulations require that classroom observation, and the performance management cycle, should contribute to a teacher’s professional development and therefore should be conducted in a manner that equates to a professional dialogue. Being in the classroom as an observer opens up a range of experiences and processes which can become part of the raw material of a teacher’s professional growth. Observation is a multi-faceted tool for learning. The experience of observing comprises more than the time actually spent in the classroom. It also includes preparation for the period in the classroom and follow-up from the time spent there. The preparation can include the selection of a focus and purpose and a method of data collection, as well as collaboration with others involved. Observation is a skill that can be learned and can improve with practice. It is often assumed, somewhat naively, that the ability to learn through observing classroom events is fairly intuitive. In fact, while few would deny the role of intuition in the preparation of teachers, the ability to see with acuity, to select, identify and prioritize among a myriad of co-occurring experiences is something that can be guided, practiced, learned and improved. Observation can serve a number of people in a number of contexts towards a number of different ends. The observation may be initiated either by the teachers themselves or by the school, as part of a school-based support program for teaching staff, or beginning teachers, or newly employed teachers in an induction period. Other observers include: i) Trainee teachers who observe teachers, other trainees and trainers as an important part of their own training process; ii) Teacher trainers who observe trainees teaching;

iii) Teacher developers who observe teachers as part of a school-based support system; iv) Trainee trainers who observe teachers and trainee teachers.

Classroom research:- Classroom research is research in a contextually defined setting, and in this respect it can be compared to research in courtrooms, doctors’ consultation rooms, family dining rooms, and so on. Classroom research as context based analysis cannot have as its primary aim the immediate generalizability of findings. The first concern must be to analyze the data as they are, rather than to compare them to other data to see how similar they are. If we are too concerned about the comparison of data we will start shifting the data too soon, selecting similar bits and discarding dissimilar ones, looking for concepts that can be readily identified, named and classified, and becoming pressured to define those concepts in clear, unambiguous but, unfortunately, superficial and misleading terms. Hymes has said that ‘educational research has tended to define problems in terms of variables common to all schools.’ One of the problem with L2 classroom research is that there is such a tremendous variety of L2 classrooms. Bilingual education research is a good example of the necessity to take contextual information into consideration. In both practical and theoretical terms, bilingual education is a highly heterogeneous...
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