Educators speak: Classroom Observations

Classroom Observations are a regular feature of any school leader’s weekly timetable. They help leaders to keep their fingers on the pulse of the school, and most importantly on the teaching and learning practices in the classroom. Periodically, principals require external guidance and validation of their observations, to verify the accuracy of strengths and areas of development identified by and for each teacher.

Experienced educators, as Assessors, support school leaders to enhance their evidence collection skills, maintain positivity in feedback and motivate teachers to take their next best steps. Pooja Bajaj (former BIS  PYP Coordinator) and Alpana Patel (Shishuvan), tell us about Classroom Observations, and the impact on them as Assessors, school leaders and teachers.

How do classroom observations help you as a leader of your own school?

– Pooja Bajaj: For me it has been an incredible side to my development as a teacher and a school leader. It has been an eye opening exercise which has left me questioning things that we take for granted or the way we’ve always done things at our school because we often replicate what we know, we see peers or colleagues doing or what feels comfortable. Visiting schools that do not look or fee anything like the school you teach in helps you step outside your comfort zone. This creates a possibility to envision something different for students, or even see oneself in a teacher or a leader you meet.

What is the impact of peers and leaders observing your classroom, on your teaching practice?

– Pooja Bajaj: Observing and being observed can be a powerful learning tool for teachers. It helps teachers to learn from each other, to develop a more reflective approach to their teaching and to identify development goals. A positive attitude and a shared sense of collaboration will enhance the satisfaction and performance of the observer and the teachers being observed.

The TPR is a reflective exercise and an effective strategy in developing teachers’ pedagogy and professional competences. Sometimes, the best way to acquire new skills or ideas is through observations rather than through “pull-out” training, such as workshops.

How does the experience of doing Classroom Observations as an Assessor benefit you?

– Alpana Patel: Specifically, the school teachers are trying to put in 21st century learning model by creating innovative lessons which incorporate group and peer learning in addition to individual learning

– Pooja Bajaj: As an Assessor, classroom observations allow me time to reflect on my own practices, and I ask myself the following questions:

  • Which aspects of my teaching do I feel were validated?

  • Which questions do I have about my own teaching?

  • What new ideas do I want to try in my own instructional practice?

Being an Assessor provides a platform for growth and deep reflection. Observing practices in other schools highlights the possibilities to enrich classroom teaching and learning experiences., adapting learning to one’s own context.