Observation in Teaching

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Classroom observation is one of a repertoire of strategies which help staff gather information about the core work of Learning and Teaching. It should be carried out sensitively and professionally, and should involve teachers in consultation about the purposes and format of the exercise so that everyone involved is clear about their role in the activity

The Nature of Observation

Observation is a systematic eye on what happens in the classroom. It can be recorded by narrative writing, videoing, sound recording or full written transcripts. It is no so much a part of our tradition in teaching, as it has been in the medical field, for example. Observation is the foundation of reflection.

Purposes of classroom observation
1. To improve learning and teaching as part of individual staff member, subject department, whole school and authority self-evaluation procedures. 2. To give teachers the opportunity to reflect on and discuss their practice with each other and with school or authority management 3. To share success and good practice.

4. To promote a collegiate approach to developing learning and teaching 5. To allow everyone to have a better understanding of the work and professional practice of teachers. 6. To contribute to standards and quality reporting, including reports to HMIE. 7. To contribute to the process of professional review and development, as appropriate. 8. To contribute to the process of professional development. 9. To be used for curriculum development and evaluation.

Principles of classroom observation
1. It will be strictly within the context of learning and teaching. 2. The purpose, method and timing of the visit will be subject to prior consultation, and may be linked to the school or department improvement plan, to issues raised in an HMIE report, to exploring alternative ways to deliver a topic, to supporting a colleague, to diagnosing or working out a solution to a problem. 3. It will take place only after consultation/discussion between the observer and the class teacher, and other senior managers as appropriate, with the expectations being clearly agreed. 4. It will be followed soon after by a meeting between the observer and the class teacher in order to discuss the observation process. An agreement will be reached beforehand regarding when the feedback will be provided and both parties should endeavor to meet this deadline. When the observation is used as part of the monitoring process of Learning and Teaching a written record, as appropriate, should be produced by the observer within 5 working days of the observation and, when agreed, should be signed by both parties, giving the class teacher the opportunity to record his/her comments on the process. Where there is disagreement, this should be recorded. 5. It may be undertaken by promoted staff members in the school, the Education Department or peers depending on the purpose of the observation. 6. It will be on a strictly professional basis, reinforcing the mutually respectful relationship with professional colleagues and with pupils. 7. It will involve a general process of classroom interaction involving the observer, the class teacher and any other staff present. 8. It should not be carried out as a ‘critic lesson’ or based on a checklist. Brief notes may be kept, but should be done unobtrusively, and should not impede the observer’s engagement with the learning and teaching process. Observation is a practical research tool which provides valuable sources of information in terms of others people's development, interactions and behaviors. Within child research, effective observational skills include being able to record data using a variety of observation methods such as event-sampling, time-sampling and narrative reports. Benefits of Child Observation

The main benefit of undertaking child observations is that in doing so one is able to learn more about developmental issues such as language,...
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