Sunday, 17 May 2009

Classroom Observation - 'Excuse me, may I come in?'

One useful way of finding other ways of teaching is by observing other teachers in action. Here is a list of what things I think we should mention to / ask of a teacher whose lesson we're going to observe. Following is a list of the reasons for each point.


  • Who I am (my name, college I attend, what year of the course I'm taking)
  • Why I want to observe the lesson
  • What in particular I'm going to observe
  • Where I should sit in the class
  • What my role during the lesson should be


  • In order to break the ice, so that he/she knows something about me.
  • To let them know my purpose of observing, i.e. as part of a class assignement for college, to learn from a teacher 'in action'.
  • So that the teacher is aware of what part of his/her teaching I want to focus on. This can put the teacher at ease as they will know I'm there to learn a small aspect of teaching and not to examine every single thing they do.
  • In order to know whether my pressence in the classroom will be noticeable for her and the students. The teacher may want her students not to be distracted by a 'foreign' pressence.
  • In order to facilitate the teacher's work during the lesson, to contribute as much as I can to it, and to avoid any missunderstandings: will I participate actively and interact with her and the learners, or will I just be introduced and restrict myself to observing?

A very important thing I think we should clarify is that we are not there to judge or scrutinise the teacher's way of teaching. We should bear in mind that the students' performance, behaviour, attitude do not normally reflect the teacher's work, but each person will react differently to the same stimuli. So we should let the teacher know we aren't there to find flaws but profit from his/her lesson in a number of ways: to reflect objectively upon teaching & learning, to compare what the theory says and what the practice actually is like, to become more aware of other options and possibilities, to learn things we like and may want to try ourselves in the future (you can kindly 'borrow' things you like and make them part of your own teaching), to challenge our own ideas (which we may take for granted), to have an idea of what we can expect with our future students under similar circumstances. In short, to develop and grow as professionals and people.

At the end of the lesson, we should give our feedback to the teacher, thank them for the opportunity they've given us, and value the chance we've had to discover another way of teaching.