Even though it's not a fun experience, classroom observation is necessary for school administrators and education professionals to evaluate your teaching ability. The added stress of being observed and the presence of an observer in the classroom will change the classroom dynamic, which presents a challenge to educators. Thankfully, careful preparation and demonstrating professional expertise will help you receive a positive evaluation no matter what happens in the classroom during your observation period. Here's how to survive when a fellow educator is observing you and evaluating your teaching capabilities.
Prepare Well for Your Observation With a Detailed Lesson Plan
Having an educator observe you while teaching can be stressful. Ample preparation will help you stay on track and avoid distraction. Even if you're not one to normally prepare lessons in advance, it's important to do so when you're being observed. Study your prepared lesson plan carefully the night before so that you know what the objectives of the lesson are and how you will go about teaching the objectives to your students. Memorizing the lesson plan also helps you quickly return to teaching if something unexpected happens during the observation period, such as disruptive behavior or a medical emergency.
If at all possible, consult with the person who will be observing you before he or she steps foot in the classroom. Understand what your objectives are and how your teaching performance will be graded. It's common for observers to have personal preferences about the correct way to teach — for example, they may prefer students working in pairs or small groups on assignments instead of working by themselves. Integrating these into your lesson plan can help you receive a favorable evaluation from your observer.
However, don't radically change your teaching style overnight just to please someone else — if you're changing your teaching style entirely, you'll confuse your students during the observation period. Be prudent while designing your lesson plan to ensure that it's pleasing to both the observer and familiar to your students.
Let Your Confidence Show in the Classroom
Confidence demonstrates that you have control of the classroom and your students and have mastery over the subject matter. Having an observer in the classroom will change the classroom dynamic, which makes teaching a little more difficult than usual. Your students may not be as eager to answer questions, and you are facing the additional stress of being graded on your teaching performance. This is why it's important to study your lesson plan well and keep it in mind while teaching — the more knowledgeable you are about the lesson, the less you will be influenced by outside distractions.
Also, you should resist the temptation to start lecturing to your students at a high level immediately — this is a common mistake committed by teachers who are being observed. Whether it's a desire to show mastery over the subject area or a desire to show that your students are performing above grade level, some teachers slip into delivering lectures that are too advanced for their students. Be confident in the classroom and remember the lesson plan that you prepared — even though you're being observed, you're still here for the students and need to teach them at their level. In addition, you'll receive an unfavorable observation if you confuse your students.
Use the Observation as an Opportunity for Reflection and Professional Development
No matter how your observation went, you should always think about how your lesson could have gone better. Did your students struggle with the material? Were they confident in what they learned by the end of the class? Reach out to the person who observed you, describe any difficulties that occurred during the observation period and think of some ideas on how you could improve. This demonstrates your capability for professional growth.
Observations are stressful for teachers, but keeping these tips in mind will help you get through them. With careful preparation, confidence in the classroom and a reflection on what you could do better as a professional, you're sure to impress any educator that observes your teaching.
Although most people tend to think of education as something that they need to do in a formal setting, the world is filled with lessons if you just look around and soak it in. I started focusing more and more on education about ten years ago, and it was really great to feel how much of a difference those early lessons made in my personal life. Before I knew it, I really felt like things were starting to open up for me, and I was starting to feel happier about the direction my life was heading. I wanted to start a blog all about education, so that you can learn what you need to in order to improve your life.