How to Prepare for a Classroom Observation
Teaching observations are one of the scariest parts of teaching but they don’t have to be! I mean, who doesn’t have to wear extra, heavy-duty deodorant on observation days? In reality, teachers are rock stars and we should be proud and excited to showcase what we do every day. The trick is knowing what administrators are looking for. Let’s take a look at some lesson observation ideas.
Teaching Lesson Observation Essentials
- Establish a routine– when students enter and leave the classroom. I use bell ringer journals. From the beginning of the school year, I establish this routine. As students enter the classroom, they start on the bell work as I walk around the classroom jotting down a small classwork grade. See my blog post linked above for more information on how to structure this.
- State the objective for the day. Either in the bell ringer journal or on the board, write and say what the students “will be able to do” by the end of the period. For instance, you would say to the class “by the end of today or the end of the next couple of days, you will be able to name 3 cooking techniques and their uses.” This should align with the standards that you are using.
- Wrap-up- at the end of the period, wrap things up by restating the objective and checking to see if the students are able to do what you said they would. My favorite quick activity for this is an “exit ticket”. I would write on the board “name 3 cooking techniques and an example of when to use them.” Collect these half sheets of paper and you get instant feedback on if you have to continue to reinforce this concept or if you are able to move on.
Lesson Observation Tips
- Stay focused-try to keep the lesson focused on the objective and find a lesson that will keep your students engaged. I find that a nice structure for an observation is:
- Bell Ringer/Objective
- A short presentation of some sort- direct instruction.
- Practice the information that was learned- stations, independent practice (short lab), a sorting activity with new information, etc.
- Closure with exit ticket.
- If you have more time, have students turn and talk about the exit ticket before they answer or discuss their answers when they are finished.
- Overplan! Have extra materials on hand and ready in case students move through the lesson faster than you thought they would.
- Have tools on hand– print exit tickets and lesson plan templates and have them in your files, easy to find in case of an unannounced observation. When you need a quick formative assessment for a lesson, a generic 3-2-1 exit ticket can be a great thing to use in a pinch.
Sample Lesson Plan
It always helps to take a look at a finished lesson plan. We teach middle and high school so here is an example of teacher observation on the comparison of eggs for a culinary arts classroom that Chris recently used for an observation.
–Be confident! It takes a special person to teach adolescents…not everyone wants to or can do this job. Confidence shows and can help an administrator overlook some mistakes you may make.
Would you like to read more about why lesson planning is important? Here is an article that lists 40 reasons by 10 experts.