In your first few weeks at your placement school you are in a fantastic position to be able to observe others teaching. This opportunity will get smaller as the year goes on, and you should make the most of it while you can!
To start with, you may just want to sit and watch to see how the lessons progress. However, there is a wealth of information in front of you, that without a clear focus a lot of this may well pass you by.
You need to learn how to ‘unpack’ the lessons. To do this you will need to choose a focus for each of your observations, and prior to the observation, jot down some questions you will want to answer. Some of these you will be able to answer while you are watching, others you may need to discuss with your mentor later, or look for in another observation.
Some things to consider...
Suggested observation topics for the first few weeks:
You will want to find information about these during your initial observations. (Future blog posts will give more detail for each). I would suggest you choose ONE at a time!
What kind of things do you see that may be considered as not behaving? Chatting? Being off task? Rudeness?
What does the teacher do in each case to respond to this behaviour?
Some teachers will have set the expectations in place so that there is no obvious behaviour issue – but this is where you will need to look carefully at how they structure the lesson to ensure all are kept on task.
A later post will give you some suggestions as to techniques you can put in place to prevent behaviour problems from occurring.
What does the teacher do to move from one task to another? – what we call transitions in lessons.
How do they manage handing out books, or going through homework or tests?
3.Structure of the lesson
A final topic for your early observations is for you to plot out how the teacher structures each part of the lesson – what they want the students to learn; how they introduce the learning (starter); how they build the learning; how they check that they students have learnt it.
The best way to get the most out of your observations is to:
Plan in advance what you want to find out on each occasion.
EVIDENCE: all this forms evidence for your standards - a good piece of evidence would be...
Next blog post: There are two ways of looking at behaviour management - how to look for these when you are observing.
Dr Sharon Williams