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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...