How to Pass Teacher Evaluations Through Classroom Observations
Teacher and Student Interaction in The Classroom
Classroom Teacher Observations
With the exception of pre-employment teaching demonstrations, classroom teacher observations are the most feared by many teachers. Why? If the first classroom observation goes badly, a second observation will quickly follow. With more than one evaluation of sub-par teaching performance, school administrations have grounds for dismissing a teacher from employment. Considering this possible grave threat to all teachers, this article presents tips on preparing for teacher observations and also suggests different ways teachers can conduct themselves well during observations.
What Is Classroom Observation?
Just as students are held accountable by assessment tools, teachers must be held accountable for their performance in the classroom. One important way of doing this is by observing the teacher in a classroom. By doing this, school administrators can view a teacher's appearance and interaction with students in the classroom. Classroom teacher observers can also make judgments on the teacher's classroom management, discipline, and effectiveness of teaching methods used in class.
Who Are The Classroom Observers?
Members of school administration and fellow teachers usually jointly conduct classroom observations. During my past experiences of teaching EFL in Bangkok, I was observed by a team of two to three people including a member of school administration, a native Thai English teacher, and a native English speaking colleague.
When Are Classroom Observations Held?
In my school, classroom teacher observations were held once or twice a year. They were usually announced; however, they could be unannounced. If the observations were announced, the teacher generally received notice one week in advance.
Preparing for Teacher Observations
Preparing for an announced teacher observation is necessary if a teacher wants to perform the best and leave a good impression with the classroom observers. Preparations for the observation must include the following:
1. Making Detailed Lesson Plans
Without a detailed lesson plan, a teacher has no road map of where he wants to go with his class. There should be clear, detailed learning objectives for each class, and this information must be at the top of all lesson plans. Lesson plans must also include all teaching equipment and materials used during the lesson such as audiovisual equipment, maps, and picture flashcards. The most important part of the lesson plan must include detailed teaching procedures and activities. Time spent on each activity must be noted. Teaching activities must include a class warm-up; revision drill for activating students' background knowledge; the presentation of new material; practice exercises; and a final presentation mastery activity.
2. Preparing All Audiovisual Equipment and Teaching Materials Used in Class
Before the observation class begins, the teacher must make sure he or she has set up all audiovisual equipment like overhead projectors, DVD players, CD players, and PowerPoint presentations. Maps, posters, and picture flashcards must also be prepared.
3. Practice Presenting the Lesson to Other Classes
If at all possible, the teacher should present his teacher observation lesson to other classes. By doing this, the teacher can determine what went right and what went wrong in his lesson. The actual teacher observation lesson can then be fine-tuned to limit the deficiencies in the teacher's presentation.
Tips to Follow During a Classroom Teacher Observation
If a teacher wants to successfully pass a classroom teacher observation, he or she should pay attention to the following:
1. Provide a Lesson Plan, Student Books, and Supplementary Materials to The Observers
Before the classroom teacher observation begins, the teacher should provide the lesson plan of the day and copies of the student books and supplementary materials to all observers. In doing this, the classroom observers will more easily be able to understand the teacher's learning objectives, and then determine whether the teacher has met them during the day's lesson.
2. Be on Time to Class
Punctuality in the classroom is essential. If at all possible, the teacher should arrive at class a few minutes early to ensure that all audiovisual equipment is set up and teaching materials are in place.
3. Smile And Be Friendly to All Students
Even if a teacher is having a rough day, he or she should present a happy smile and be friendly to all students. The classroom atmosphere will be much more relaxed and more conducive to learning.
4. Student-Centered Classroom Activities
A teacher will certainly make a bad impression on classroom observers by standing in the front of the class and solely lecturing to students. The teacher must make his classroom student-centered as much as possible. The teacher can do this through activities and drills in which students do most of the talking and writing while the teacher functions as a coach.
5. Pay Attention to Board Work
When the teacher is standing at the whiteboard, he or she must avoid turning his back to the students. Rather, the teacher should be looking at his students while writing on the board. The teacher should also pay attention to what is written on the board. His or her handwriting must be neat and always readable. Information should judiciously be arranged on the board, and there should be no errors in punctuation or capitalization.
6. Move Around The Class
A teacher should avoid standing only in one place in front of the class. For classroom management concerns, it is wise to approach disruptive students. It is also wise to stand next to shy or reserved students who are hesitant to participate in class. During group drills, the teacher must walk around the class to check on the understanding of various group members.
7. Use First Names of Students
Everyone loves to hear their first name, and students feel teachers care about them when using first names in class.
8. Pay Attention to Time Management
Time management is so important for the teacher who wants to get through the most important part of his lesson. Suggested times for activities are noted on lesson plans. Teachers should try to follow these times while working on a lesson.
9. Relax And Be Natural
Relaxing and acting naturally is essential during teacher observation. If a teacher has thoroughly prepared and practiced his lesson a few times, stage fright should not overcome him or her during the classroom teacher observation.
Preparation and self-confidence are musts to follow in how to pass classroom teacher observations. I can not overstate that a teacher must be prepared with a detailed lesson plan and all audiovisual equipment and teaching materials in place. Self-confidence should then follow in the teacher's interactions with students.
Preparing for a Teacher Observation
What is the best way to prepare for a Teacher Observation in the Classroom?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Paul Richard Kuehn