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5 Tips to Prepare for Your First Classroom Observation

Posted by Sara Goodman on May 2, 2014

5 Tips to Prepare for Your First Classroom ObservationPreparing for a classroom observation, whether it’s your very first or your fiftieth, can be a nerve-wracking experience—but it doesn’t have to be. Use our tips below and make your first classroom observation a success!

Respect Tradition

In most schools, administrators will be looking not only at your teaching practice, but also the physical artifacts that indicate your compliance with building, district, and state policies. Before your classroom observation, be sure to set up your room so that you have everything organized and visible. Maintain a clean desk and place your lesson plans and any other required materials there so that your observer can easily access them. Clearly label the board as needed with the day’s objective, standard, and any other required information. Finally, be sure to have a place set up where your observer can sit and take notes. Your desk is fine, or a single chair with a clear sightline. Many observers like to move around, or even engage with your students, but be sure to have a space for them so they feel welcomed in your room.

Fuel Up and Focus

Just as you would before any big event or test, prepare your body and mind with a healthy meal, plenty of water, and a few quiet moments to focus. Remember: an observation is a great way to improve your practice. It doesn’t have to be perfect, so just stay calm and do the best you can!

Prep Students

Before the observation, be sure your students are clear on any logistical procedures, including the entrance of a visitor. Teaching procedures can eat up valuable classroom time, so make sure your students are clear on how to transition between tasks so you can focus on teaching the day’s objective.

Avoid Reinventing the Wheel

It's tempting to try out a new teaching technique during an observation, but stick to your typical practice in order to feel comfortable. This will also give your observer an idea of what a normal class session looks like. For future observations, you may want to discuss a new technique you’re planning to use beforehand, and then get specific feedback on your implementation. For the first observation however, just try to deliver the best version of what you usually do!

Be Open to Feedback

After your first observation, you’ll typically receive some form of feedback. Some schools may simply provide a copy of their observation report, but you may also have a short follow-up conversation to debrief. When reviewing the feedback, work to form action steps for improving your areas of weakness.

Observations are a great way to improve your practice, and adopting a curious and open approach will help you get the most mileage out of your first observation. Listening to feedback with a positive attitude will also communicate your professionalism and commitment to lifelong learning.

Experienced teachers: What advice do you have to give? What do you wish someone had told you before your first observation?

Photo Credit: aussiegall

Topics: education, classroom challenges

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