July 15, 2019

What can be learnt from a lesson observation? – Nicoletta

It has been proven that both observing lessons, and having our lessons observed and reviewed lead to better teaching practice (Grossman & Williston, 2002; Hendry & Oliver 2012; Bell & Cooper, 2011), and, as a result, to improved students’ learning outcomes. Both practices have been fundamental parts of my learning journey, providing me with a wide range of behaviour management strategies which have already brought solid evidence of their efficacy in my classroom (Teachers’ Standard 7).

Effective teachers model in their daily practice the strategies that make their teaching effective. Therefore, observing competent teachers and supervisors “in the field” is highly beneficial for trainee teachers as it shows them how the theory they are learning is put into practice in the classroom. Moreover, through observational learning (Bandura, 1977; 1997), the novice teachers acquire the necessary confidence to attempt those strategies on their own, as well an unlimited amount of inspiration. In my professional experience, observing my colleagues’ classes has shown me that learning-productive teacher-pupil interactions, such as effective questioning and feedback strategies, lead to a higher level of engagement which results in improved students’ behaviour. Furthermore, I have observed that praising the pupils’ effort and referring to them by name helps to develop a better rapport, which has a trigger of extrinsic motivation and, as a consequence, it has a deep impact on behaviour management (Griffith and Burns, 2012).

Class observation, meant as review, means being observed by mentors or other experienced teaching fellows. This kind of observation provides the trainee teacher with the opportunity to apply their academic knowledge directly in the classroom setting under the supervision of competent classroom teachers and mentors. Having my classes reviewed provides me with valuable, instant feedback on my teaching, with the opportunity to reflect on my practice and with inestimable practical advice. Namely, following an informal class observation, a fellow teacher suggested that I could try to enforce a whole class reward policy to decrease negative competitiveness. On the next day, I gave my students the task to make a list of four positive behaviours which make a lesson successful for all the students in the class as well as for the teacher. After they all agreed about the content of the list, we established that I would put a piece of candy in a jar every time we had a successful class. Moreover, we also negotiated together the reward. This strategy has not only resulted in improved relationships between the students and enhanced collaborative learning, but has also raised my students’ motivation.

To conclude, based on my experience so far, class observation has been a powerful tool which has had a deep influence on my behaviour management strategies. Through class observation, I could witness first hand how motivation impacts on learner behaviour.

References

Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Prentice-Hall: Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

Bell, M. & Cooper, P. (2011). Peer observation of teaching in university departments: A framework for implementation. International Journal for Academic Development, DOI:10.1080/1360144X.2011.633753.

Griffith, A. & Burns, M. (2012). Outstanding Teaching: Engaging Learners. Carmarthen, Crown House Publishing

Grossman, S. & Williston, J. (2002). Teaching strategies: Strategies for helping early childhood students learn appropriate teaching practices. Childhood Education, 79(2), 103-107. DOI: 10.1080/00094056.2003.10522780

Hendry, G. D. & Oliver, G. R. (2012). Seeing is believing: The benefits of peer observation. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 9(1), 1-9.


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