1. What is observation?
According to The Glossary of Education Reform, a classroom observation is a formal or informal observation of teaching while it is taking place in a classroom or other learning environment. Typically conducted by fellow teachers, administrators, or instructional specialists, classroom observations are often used to provide teachers with constructive critical feedback aimed at improving their classroom management and instructional techniques. School administrators also regularly observe teachers as an extension of formal job-performance evaluations. Classroom observations may be called learning walks, teacher observations, walkthroughs, and many other things, and they may be conducted for shorter or longer periods of time—from a few minutes to a full class period or school day. Educators may also use a wide variety of classroom-observation methods—some may be nationally utilized models developed by educational experts, while others may be homegrown processes created by the educators using them. In many cases, observation notes are recorded using common templates or guidelines that describe what observers should be looking for or what the observed teacher would like feedback on. Increasingly, educators are conducting and recording classroom observations using digital and online technologies—such as smartphones, tablets, and subscription-based online systems—that can provide educators with observational functionality and data analytics that would not be possible if paper-based processes were used. 2. What is the importance of observation?
As your child’s teacher keeps an attentive eye on her students, she will be able to make initial observations, as well as progress observations over the school year. She will watch the children’s physical, intellectual, emotional and social development. That teacher will have a first hand look at how your child and other students grow and interact in the classroom setting. Developing Classroom Lesson Plans
Observations help the teacher gauge what level her students are at and how to plan lessons and curriculum accordingly. This will help her refine and focus on the areas that need to be strengthened. She will then know what are reasonable expectations for her students. The teacher does keep in mind that all students progress at a different pace, so the lessons will have a broader range to work with the strengths and weaknesses of all the students. Identifying Issues Early
Since the teacher will be watching your child’s progress over a period of time, she will be able to notice if a child is struggling in a specific area. She can then plan individual, customized activities to help that child. If any additional resources are needed, she can refer the child or parent to the appropriate professionals or programs for more support. 3. What are the professional ethics in observation?
Remembering to ask a child if it is OK to take a photograph. Supporting children to understand their own right to decide whether they wish to take part. Attuning to children’s body language and unique communication styles as cues about their preferred involvement. Using symbols, such as smiley faces, when asking children to indicate their preferred involvement. Taking account of matters such as safety, fatigue, feelings of inclusion and exclusion, interest and social and cultural contexts, beliefs and values. Informing children about the purpose of the research, visit or observation. Checking with children before significant conversation or extracts from interviews is quoted. Consulting with children to plan ways they can be involved in recording observations or research projects. Engaging children not only in the generation of information, but also in the analysis and interpretation of information to include their perspective and contribute to its authenticity. Ensuring images and personal information collected is necessary, non-intrusive, maintained securely, and used only for the purposes intended, including safeguarding digital images from access by others. Ensuring observation does not contribute to increased surveillance or monitoring of children. Considering the different reactions children may have to representations of themselves as they mature.
4. How do we interpret the results in observation?
Enter any necessary data into the computer. This may mean simply typing comments, descriptions, etc., into a word processing program, or entering various kinds of information (possibly including audio and video) into a database, spreadsheet, a GIS (Geographic Information Systems) program, or some other type of software or file. Transcribe any audio- or videotapes. This makes them easier to work with and copy, and allows the opportunity to clarify any hard-to-understand passages of speech. Score any tests and record the scores appropriately.
Sort your information in ways appropriate to your interest. This may include sorting by category of observation, by event, by place, by individual, by group, by the time of observation, or by a combination or some other standard. When possible, necessary, and appropriate, transform qualitative into quantitative data. This might involve, for example, counting the number of times specific issues were mentioned in interviews, or how often certain behaviors were observed. Simple counting, graphing and visual inspection of frequency or rates of behavior, events, etc., over time. Using visual inspection of patterns over time to identify discontinuities (marked increases, decreases) in the measures over time (sessions, weeks, months). Calculating the mean (average), median (midpoint), and/or mode (most frequent) of a series of measurements or observations. What was the average blood pressure, for instance, of people who exercised 30 minutes a day at least five days a week, as opposed to that of people who exercised two days a week or less? Using qualitative interviews, conversations, and participant observation to observe (and track changes in) the people or situation. Journals can be particularly revealing in this area because they record people’s experiences and reflections over time. Finding patterns in qualitative data. If many people refer to similar problems or barriers, these may be important in understanding the issue, determining what works or doesn’t work and why, or more. Comparing actual results to previously determined goals or benchmarks. One measure of success might be meeting a goal for planning or program implementation, for example.