Guidelines For Teachers Observing Their Peers

It is the time of the year for classroom observations. Earlier this semester, teachers in teams of 4-5 have worked together on assessment and visited each other’s classrooms. The results have been shared in our learning management system. I’m very pleased that the teachers have taken time to do this and that they report that they have enjoyed it and learned a lot from it. This time it is my turn to visit my teachers and to observe learning and assessment, preferable to observe something the teachers would like to know more about. Is this working, if so how, and if not, what can I improve. The idea is of course to get a better knowledge of what is going on in the classroom and to learn from this. That is why I like the idea of teachers visiting each other. And what could improve the learning, even more, is if they were to share their findings on blogs that are easily accessible for all. That is my idea and goal. I will ask the teachers if I can share what I see and observe, and do so if they are comfortable with it.

Did you know there is a movement called #observeMe? If you are on Twitter I encourage you to follow this hashtag. And if you are not on Twitter I encourage you to start! One of the topics here are inviting fellow teachers into your classroom. I’m not sure I have heard about this being done in Norway, but it certainly sounds like a good idea.

Inviting observers into your classroom can be intimidating. But the #ObserveMe movement began because despite the challenges, embracing fresh perspectives and constructive feedback has helped teachers across the country grow their practice. Source: Teacher2Teacher.

In the process of preparing I read this blog post;  Guidelines For Teachers Observing Their Peers Guest post posted by my friend Larry Ferlazzo. I’m sharing the article here.

Peer observations are a great way for teachers to reflect on their instructional practices as well as build a culture of collaboration among staff members. Here are a few guidelines to consider before embarking on classroom observations.

  • Have a clear lens of focus before entering the classroom. Before entering classrooms have a specific area you are looking to observe. Whether it’s student engagement, classroom setup, or opening or closing procedures, have an idea of what you are looking for beforehand so that you can focus and not grow distracted by all the moving parts in a classroom.
  • Ensure that observations are constructive and not destructive or overly critical. Peer observations are mainly for teachers to reflect and look for ways to improve. Observations are not evaluations and should be focused on the good things they observe and not on what they do not see or areas they might find unpalatable.
  • When observing, focus on students more than the teacher. When observing a classroom notice what the students are doing as they will reveal a great deal about how a lesson is being received. You can learn a lot about a lesson and a class culture by looking at student body language. Questions like: “Are students engaged,” and “How do I know students are critically thinking,” are great ways to observe what is actually happening in the class. Remember, students being quiet doesn’t necessarily mean that they are engaged or are even listening. Student engagement is the ultimate goal of any lesson or ‘teacher move’ so try to observe how students are consuming the information given by the teacher.
  • Lastly, give time to reflect and discuss on what you observe. Give yourself an opportunity to think about what you saw and how it compares to your classroom. Often reflection reaffirms why you do what you already do in your classroom. Other times observations gives you great ideas of how to improve your instructional practices or the culture of your own classroom. Giving yourself time to think, ponder, and share with other instructors at your school improves the school culture and makes professional growth possible.

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