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.


  1. I totally agree with you!! A teacher of mine used to say "Live and learn..." We always learn something new when observing teachers that helps us become better teachers ourselves!! Great to see that you've finally come to terms with technology Ro!!!;)

  2. Welcome to the blogosphere, Rodrigo!!! A pleasure to have yet another chance to be a witness of your professional development...

    As for your reflection on on how to approach lesson observation, I especially value the very last words: "At the end of the lesson, we should ... value the chance we've had to discover another way of teaching.". I definitely think it all boils down to that. If we keep in mind each teacher can resort to a myriad of "ways of teaching", in a never-ending search to enhance their students' "ways of learning", then we won't be looking for "right" and "wrong" but just looking for inspiration and new perspectives.

    Happy sitting in on lessons!

  3. Wow!
    It's amazing to see you around in cyberspace! ;)
    Now your great writings and reflections will be at a fingertip for the entire world!
    I do agree with Gladys, your final words were a great summary of classroom observation! In the end, there will always be something we can learn from the lessons we visit. There are so many great ways of teaching that we are all the time exploring and trying them.
    Finally, I really liked what you said about developing as professionals and people ;)
    Learning from others always helps us grow. There's still so much to discover and I'm really glad we are all growing together! (:

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  5. Wellcome to the cyberworld!!!

    Reading you in a more fluent way, is really food for soul as teachers... U really make me think...

    I love the idea of "borrowing"... borrowing and lending ways of teaching...

    Keep on blogging!!!


    Yohi :)