Once in a while, all teachers, both experienced ones with many years of teaching background and those who have just kicked off their teaching career, experience that very day: an observed class. Observation is always stressful irrespective of the teaching experience, age, content, and many other factors. The main reason for being stressed out is that all teachers want to show their best teaching sides, their professionalism and a good rapport with their students. Here are some great tips to help teachers survive an observed class.
- Try to relax before the observation (easier said than done)
In any case, being relaxed will play a positive role during the class. Simply sitting and breathing deeply will make you refreshed and energized before the class. Don’t try to prepare or print something at the last minute, get everything ready in advance so that you’re not in a hurry before the lesson. There is one more important thing you need to keep in mind: observers make comments on the overall performance and not you as an individual. Besides, try to take their comments as suggestions for further improvement.
2. Plan every minute of the lesson, that will guarantee a more successful lesson rather than the completion of random exercises and other activities
No matter how experienced you are, you must always plan in detail for an observed class and have a hard copy of your plan. Be ready to divert from the plan rather than stick to every point mentioned in the lesson plan. This will show the observer that you can easily adapt to the classroom mood. Have all the necessary handouts, puzzles, and the lesson plan itself copied for the observer as well so that he/she can follow the lesson in a more engaging way rather than just simply following it.
3. Be specific about your aims
Each lesson chases a specific goal to be accomplished by the end of the lesson. The track of lesson activities must smoothly lead to the set aim. For example, at the end of the class, you must ask yourself whether your students are able to use modal verbs appropriately. Here are some examples of good and bad lesson aims.
You can read more on effective lesson aiming here.
4. Have specific stages for the lesson
Irrespective of the lesson topic, it must follow a proper staging- lead-in, presentation, controlled practice, freer practice, final review/game. Each section must have a reasonable timing (e.g. warm-up – 5 mins, TL presentation – 15-25 minutes). Try to change the interaction channel from time to time (Teacher-Student, Student-Student, etc). If you follow this tip, it means that you care about the purposefulness of your lesson and show a student-centred approach.
5. Use realia but in a justified way
If you use realia on a regular basis to present the material, to warm the students up or for any other classroom activity, jump at the chance to use it during the observed class as well. Students always respond positively to the material outside the textbook. This is an indirect message to the observer that you think out of the box and give a thought to your classroom activities. However, do not overuse realia, this will simplify their role.
6. Act out your lesson at home
You may write your plan and think and you are ready for the class. However, a simple rehearsal in front of the mirror or in front of chairs acting as students may reveal a number of flaws in timing, staging, instructions, the usage of the board, the amount of TTT (Teacher Talking Time), the relevance of the examples, etc. This checklist may be good guidance for the elimination of the possible mistakes on the part of the teacher.
Find a more detailed checklist of areas you should pay attention to during the lesson here.
7. Some other basic tips
- Separate students who tend to distract each other.
- Make notes for the end of the class error correction. This is a signal for the observer that you practice reflection on the students’ performance.
- Keep everyone busy during the lesson. Plan extra activities for quick-finishers.
- Reflect back on observer’s notes for your self-improvement.
Read more about the most effective ways of avoiding some common mistakes made during the observed classes in this article.
To sum up, if you are relaxed, you respond to students’ needs and show everyone that you are a dedicated and well-organized teacher, you will overcome the stress of the observation.