Lesson observations – where to start?! Jeanette Barsdell, the author of ELT Lesson Observation and Feedback Handbook, was thrown in at the deep end and expected to observe a teacher on her first day as a DOS. Despite being terrified, she got some great advice, hit the ground running and developed into a competent observer. She’s written a guidance book for anyone who observes or intends to observe ELT teachers, and overall is a great resource.
Barsdell explains that the book will help you with (quote):
- managing and setting up observations
- decoding a lesson plan to understand and improve practice
- understanding from teaching practice a teacher’s strengths and weaknesses
- stating strengths and areas to work on in a constructive way
- being comfortable giving face-to-face and written feedback.
Last weekend I had a pretty scary lesson observation…
I’ve been observed more at British Council Thailand than in any other teaching job, which is to me a good thing. There have been formal observations twice a year, observations during training courses like the CELTA YL extension, short management observations during teaching/learning reviews, peer observation schemes, the list goes on…
Personally, I think there are things we can do to optimise our observation procedures. I touched upon one of these in this IATEFL-related post. However, I can’t argue with the amount of opportunities we have to get feedback on our teaching from managers and peers.
Anyway, about the weekend. I’m lucky – my current boss and I get on alright. She was my tutor on last year’s CELTA young learner extension course, and she’s well aware of my strengths and weaknesses. I like her feedback style and I welcome her comments as they are always constructive. She unnerves me a bit during observations with the way she stares, yawns and subconsciously shakes her head, but she never reads this blog so I can get away with saying that.
My rapport with the boss should have put me at ease – so why was this observation particularly scary? Well, because I decided beforehand that I wasn’t going to try and impress anyone. What do people learn about me as a teacher if they constantly see me trying to put on a performance? During peer observations I’m normally just myself, but whenever a manager comes to observe I feel like I’m being judged – like I have to ‘up my game’ or something. In particular, I feel I have to stick to the plan rigidly. (more…)
How do you develop as a teacher? Do you rely on observations from peers or senior staff to tell you what you need to improve on? Do you evaluate and reflect on your own lessons? If so, do you do this informally or formally? Do you find that observing other teachers informs your practice? Do you read any ELT theory books or research articles?
There are plenty of ways I could improve my own teaching, but not all of them are within my control. I was thinking about why I struggle to develop as a teacher, and came up with these reasons: (more…)