When you just start teaching, what is really beneficial is to observe your colleagues’ lessons. It improves your self-awareness of the teaching process, gives you new insight into a particular student’s behavior or performance, you can learn more about other materials and methods, also you can identify your own areas of teaching and lesson planning for further improvement.
When observing somebody’s lesson, write down the procedure of the lesson, notice how and what the teacher and students do and say, take notes of anything important, consider what aspects you need to work on in your teaching. Here is a checklist of areas you should pay attention to and what you should analyze (both positive and negative aspects).
What should you pay attention to during the observation:
1. Classroom management:
- TTT: adjusting teacher’s own use of language in the classroom according to the learner group, not fast, natural voice, good voice projecting, TTT-STT balance;
- Appropriate L1 usage (no more than 30% of TTT in L1 for Beginners);
- Rapport, eye contact, body language and positioning;
- Using variety and effective use of different interaction patterns (S, S-S, T-S, T-Ss);
- Giving clear instructions (effective instruction checking questions if needed);
- Monitoring learners (monitoring straight after giving the task, helping students who struggle to do the task, not interrupting pair work if it is not necessary);
- Managing materials and boardwork (the board shouldn’t be messy, but should help student to understand and remember the material better);
- Providing appropriate feedback and error correction (on the content and the language);
- Beginning and finishing lessons on time.2. Lesson planning:
- Selection, adapting and designing materials, activities, resources and technical aids according to the aims of the lesson and students’ needs;
- Ensuring balance, variety and communicative focus in tasks;
- Logical ordering of the lesson stages and activities;
- Allocating appropriate timing for different stages of the lesson;
- Transition between activities and stages of the lesson;
- Anticipating potential difficulties in the lesson and suggesting solutions to them (check Learner English for common problems).
3. Teaching skills and language:
- Helping student to understand reading and listening texts;
- Helping student to develop oral fluency;
- Helping student to writing skills;
- Setting clear context;
- Conveying meaning clearly from context;
- Using a range of questions to elicit and check understanding;
- Providing accurate and appropriate models of oral and written language;
- Clarifying meaning, form and phonology to an appropriate depth;
- Showing awareness of differences and register;
- Providing appropriate practice of language items
- Pair checking.
- Teaching a class with an awareness of the needs, interests, backgrounds, learning styles;
- Establishing a good rapport with the students and ensuring their involvement;
- Appropriate attitude to latecomers (accommodate them if possible, don’t let them interrupt your flow);
- Work with fast finishers;
- Regularly observe peers and more experienced teachers;
- Observe videos of experts teaching;
- “Observe” your own lessons, use this self-evaluation sheet;
- Ask experienced teachers to observe your lessons and provide the feedback.
Observing other teachers is a key part of development. What is more, it is valuable not only for novice teacher but and experienced ones as well.
What are your thoughts on observation within teaching?