Lesson Observations - avoid the pitfalls
Lesson Observations should be a really positive experience. After all, it is an opportunity to learn from our colleagues, to pick-up new teaching skills and to have a trusted colleague give us some honest feedback. Why then, does the concept of lesson observations make many teachers feel anxious? In our experience, it is usually because the process has been rushed and without proper consultation and training of staff. itc has delivered hundreds of Lesson Observation and Feedback workshops around the country. We believe, that the GROWTH protocol is essential for every school wishing to implement Lesson Observations as a positive professional development experience.
Lesson Observation Protocols
Apply the GROWTH approach. Note that both lesson observers and teachers whose lessons are being observed need to feel totally safe and collegial in this situation since, if this is done well, there will be all-round growth in the school.
G. Gather the data. Clearly state what you plan to observe. i.e. What data will you be collecting and discuss this with the teacher beforehand and reach agreement. Recognise the position and status of the teacher.
R. Related to School Wide Pedagogical Framework and what the school is striving towards in order to make a significant difference to student outcome and is supported by educational research, e.g. Higher-Order thinking, co-operative learning, Explicit Instruction or Quality Teaching Model (QTM).
O. Observe the lesson and the learner (4-6 learners) and NOT the teacher. What are the students doing and saying (writing) and discussing. No hidden agendas. The teachers need assurance that it is about the students and not about them.
W. Warmth of discussion. Immediately after the lesson, discuss the data you collected with the teacher. Note. Do not attempt to evaluate the lesson. What really helped the learners? Speak to your colleagues with a warm and professional disposition, devoid of haste and impatience.
T. Target future growth. Both parties reflect on the lesson within 48 hours and both sides suggest some PD ideas as a result of the lesson observations. Teachers have the autonomy to suggest their own PD program
H. Honour the professionals and experts and giants of teaching in the school. Use the Don Bradmans and Evonne Cawleys along with school leaders. Focus on encouraging trust in this process. Therefore, the lesson observers should be should be people who are respected and trusted by their colleagues.