1. The Purpose of Classroom Observation
2. How to Conduct a Classroom Observation
3. The Disadvantages of Classroom Observation
3.3. Bias and Objectivity
3.4. A Rare Off Day
4. Alternative Ways of Conducting Classroom Observations
4.1. What Exactly is Codimg?
4.2. 100% Objectivity
4.3. Compact and Discrete
6. Key Takeaways
Classroom observations have many different names depending on the country and, sometimes, the institution involved. Teacher observations, lesson walkthroughs or learning walks are just a few of the alternative names we’ve heard. But no matter what name they go by, the primary purpose of a classroom observation will always be to ensure that the student is learning effectively.
Related Content: Teacher Coaching at Torquay Academy
This is done by observing the teacher to ensure that they are providing the best possible learning environment and lessons that are appropriate to the level of the student. It should also check that teaching is centred around each and every pupil and that nobody is being left behind in the class.
Observation can, and should, provide insights into the strengths and weaknesses of a teacher’s practice and help identify training needs to bring out the full potential of both teacher and student.
There are a few different types of observation. They may be done once or twice per year by the headteacher of the school or by an education inspector as part of a teacher’s formal assessment or they may be more informal, usually peer-to-peer, and used as a self-improvement tool. More rarely, they may be done as part of a study into education and educational trends.
There are many ways to conduct a classroom observation, some standardised, some bespoke. The following is a list of 6 common standardised checklists:
• Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS)
• Framework for Teaching (FfT)
• International Comparative Analysis of Learning and Teaching (ICALT)
• International System for Teacher Observation and Feedback (ISTOF)
• Mathematical Quality of Instruction (MQI)
• Generic Dimensions of Teacher Quality
If we look at the CLASS system, as an example, it splits the observation into three distinct sections or domains, namely Emotional Support, Instructional Support and Classroom Organisation. Each of these domains are split into subdomains which measure the learning climate, behaviour, modelling and other aspects of teaching.
Rubric for CLASS observation system
The advantage of this is that the observer has a ready made checklist for conducting a lesson observation. This is also standardised meaning that data taken from observations can be easily compiled and compared with other teachers, departments and schools.
Of course, an institution may opt to create their own bespoke checklist based on their own teaching standards which has the added benefit of creating something which takes into account varying teaching styles.
In any case, once the method of conducting an observation has been decided, the teacher should be informed in advance and a time agreed for the observation. Although this is regarded as good practice, there are those who say that an observation should be conducted without forewarning. This means that the teacher is seen in their natural state without much time to prepare.
The observer should sit at the back of the class and be as unobtrusive a presence as possible and avoid becoming a part of the class.
Feedback from the observation should be given in a timely manner and no more than 24 hours after the fact. This allows for fresh recollection on the behalf of both teacher and observer.
Related Content: The Importance of Constructive Video Feedback in Education
Although classroom observations are designed to help improve both the teacher and the student, there are some severe disadvantages in how they are performed meaning that the overall picture of the teacher being observed may be askew.
Let’s take a look at some of these disadvantages…
As we mentioned in the opening paragraph, classroom observations can be very stressful to those involved. The teacher probably hates the idea of being observed in an environment which they regard as being their own. Usually, they are in charge of what happens in the classroom and they are the authority. Now, that authority is not only being undermined, it’s being scrutinised.
And what’s worse? This observation session will be put on their permanent records, possibly limiting their future promotion prospects.
Related Content: Education Comes First
This can cause added stress to an already stressful job and, as a result, the teacher may not perform to their usual high standards meaning that the results of the observation are incorrect.
The observer may also feel the stress. They are being asked to assess the performance of their peers and colleagues, something which may not feel entirely natural to them. This is on top of the extra paper-work and bureaucracy involved.
Classroom observation can be disruptive, there’s no denying this. When a headteacher sits in on a class it can change the atmosphere of a class. Students may feel reticent, reluctant to be as open in the face of authority.
Worse, it may make some students act out, displaying negative behaviour that they wouldn’t normally dream off in a normal class. Both of these changes in behaviour can impact negatively on a teacher’s performance and add even more to the stress of the situation of all involved.
It doesn’t matter where in the world you are or in which field you work, you’ll encounter a certain amount of bias and subjectivity...and teaching is no different.
In teaching, this especially comes into play when an older, more set-in-their-way teacher is observing a young gun, straight out of university and desperate to put some of their new teaching ideas into practice.
If the older teacher doesn’t agree with the teaching methods, no matter how effective, this will reflect negatively on their assessment.
Apart from this, people often hold grudges or are affected by office politics. This is especially damning when conducting formal assessments.
Apart from this, teachers, like everyone, have off days. Maybe they’re feeling ill or had an argument with their partner or have simply had a restless night. All of these things can affect performance and, if these off days happen to fall on the day of an observation, it can seriously affect the results.
On average, teachers teach for six hours per day, 180+ days a year. They can’t be expected to be at the top of their game every single minute in such a stressful role.
Ok, so far we’ve asserted that classroom observations are necessary but that there are many downsides to them too. But what if there was a way of conducting observations which added minimal stress to the teacher, was 100% objective, meaning that bias didn’t play a role, and could be done in a way which was completely unobtrusive, avoiding class disruption?
Well, there is...video analysis with Codimg!
Codimg is a video analysis solution which allows you to film any classroom situation, analyse it and present your conclusions.
To start your analysis, you create a button template which is completely adaptable to the situation you want to analyse. For example, check the example below which is a template we have created based on the CLASS system of observation that we mentioned above.
We would be happy to share this checklist template with you. Simply click the link above and request it. If you're not yet a Codimg user, we'll even set you up with a free trial of the software. We can't say fairer than that!
You watch a lesson and click the buttons when you see something that is relevant to the teacher’s evaluation. This can either be done live with a laptop or iPad, or it can be done retrospectively from filmed footage. Clicking the buttons creates a short video clip of that exact moment and adds the information to an interactive database.
At the end of the session, this information can be analysed and the video clips used to create a quick video presentation which can be exported and sent to the teacher so they can see the results of the observation for themselves.
This is just a quick overview of the basic functions of Codimg. In addition, it contains a wealth of tools for analysis, data visualisation and presentation. In short, it makes classroom observations much quicker and easier. It accentuates the positives and negates all the negative points we mentioned above.
How? Let’s take a closer look.
Filming a lesson, analysing it and presenting the video to the teacher completely destroys any bias that there might be in the process. It provides irrefutable evidence of what has happened in the classroom, meaning that observers will be more confident in their assertions and teachers will get more out of the session.
Codimg provides real, tangible, actionable evidence of where improvement is needed. And it doesn’t have to be negative! It can be used as a motivational tool, showing off the good points of a teacher’s practice too!
There’s no need for the observer to be present in the classroom. A video camera can be set up at the back of the classroom and, at the start of the lesson, the teacher hits the record button. The observer can then collect the footage and complete the observation at their leisure.
This takes the stress and disruption out of the whole process. The students don’t act up in the face of an authority figure in the classroom and both the teacher and observer are more relaxed. This makes it much more likely that a true picture of what happens during the lesson is captured.
Codimg is not only useful for classroom observations. Any educational process can benefit from video analysis.
Take Colegio Miralmonte in Spain, for example. They use Codimg as a student evaluation tool. Again, this process is easy, non-disruptive and easily adaptable to any situation. At Miralmonte it’s particularly useful for subjects which have spoken or presentation elements such as music, drama, language learning or their extracurricular debating club. Video footage is often passed on to students and they can self-evaluate their performances, identifying mistakes and self correcting. Codimg is a great learning to learn tool in this regard.
Torquay Academy in the south of England also uses Codimg, although more in line with what we’ve spoken about in this article, i.e. as a tool for teacher coaching. Check out this article for a real case study on how Codimg is used practically at a real school.
Classroom observation is an essential part of teaching. It checks and adjusts a teachers performance meaning that students get the most out of their lessons, improving their academic performance and, thus improving the overall performance of the school.
But that doesn’t mean the process can’t be improved upon. Traditional methods of observation can be stressful and disruptive, something that video analysis with Codimg can negate in a manner which is 100% objective.
We’d love the opportunity to show you how Codimg can be used at your school. Contact us today for more information and we’ll set you up with a free trial and look at how a video analysis solution can be tailored to your particular needs.
✔ Classroom observation is extremely important to the development of a teacher.
✔ There are many different methods for conducting a successful observation session.
✔ There are many downsides to live observation, for students, teachers, and observers.
✔ Codimg provides an unobtrusive, completely objective method of conducting classroom observations and improving a teacher's methodology.
Classroom observation is an essential part of teaching.
It checks and adjusts a teachers performance meaning that students get the most out of their lessons, improving their academic performance and, thus improving the overall performance of the school.
Observation is a very important part of science. It lets us see the results of an experiment, even if they are not the results we expect. It lets us see unexpected things around us that might stimulate our curiosity, leading to new experiments. Even more important than observation is accurate observation.What are the benefits of observation as an assessment in the classroom? ›
- opportunity to share learning expectations with students in advance.
- encouragement of student self-monitoring and self-assessment.
- clarification of the desired learning outcomes to guide learning.
- focus on the desired learning outcomes to guide teaching.
It provides teachers with constructive critical feedback in order to improve their classroom management and instructional techniques. For teachers it is important to observe the interaction between teacher-learner within the classroom because it can determine the learning opportunities that students get.Why is observation powerful? ›
Our observation skills inform us about objects, events, attitudes and phenomena using one or more senses. Additionally, being able to observe and gather information about the world is important because it's the basis of communicating well.What is an important key to good observation? ›
Know Your Subject
No matter what you're observing, you're going to do it most effectively when you know your subject. Integrating what you see with what you know is a key part of observation, and you can only be an informed observer when you know how a team, place or process normally works.
Observation focuses on how: how did the child get there vs. the product the child used. The observation process is very straightforward: observe and reflect, document and gather evidence, plan and act, and finally, assess.What are the benefits of effective observation? ›
Not only does observation skills help an individual to avoid conflicts from taking place, but it also improves overall efficiency, productivity & positive output. This is because the more keenly you observe yourself and your surroundings, the more you understand where gaps exist and how those gaps need to be filled.What are the benefits of observation method? ›
- (1) Simplest Method: ...
- (2) Useful for Framing Hypothesis: ...
- (3) Greater Accuracy: ...
- (4) An Universal Method: ...
- (5) Observation is the Only Appropriate Tool for Certain Cases: ...
- (6) Independent of People's Willingness to Report: ...
- (1) Some of the Occurrences may not be Open to Observation:
Classroom observation is referred to as observing a teacher's performance in the classroom. Classroom observation includes a way of recording real-time classroom sessions. It helps the administrator monitor the teacher's performance during the class sessions as part of the regular evaluation.
The strengths of the observational method in market research is that it is less hypothetical since it captures what people are purchasing as opposed to what they say they will do or have done.What is the power of observation in teaching? ›
Observation can be a powerful tool to support and empower learning in your classroom. Teachers can reinforce what's working, ask students questions to promote discovery, and assess what works for students to better inform the design and delivery of their lessons.How to do a good classroom observation? ›
- Prepare with Care. If you are asked for information about the lesson beforehand, provide clear and succinct context for what you're doing. ...
- Check Tech. ...
- Timing Is Everything. ...
- Lesson Strategies. ...
- Student Participation. ...
- Student Behavior. ...
- When the Lesson Is Over.
Observation learning engages four main ideas for it to be most effective. These ideas include; attention, retention, reproduction and motivation. A learner ought to engage all of his/her undivided attention to the process of observation.What is an example of a classroom observation? ›
A formal classroom observation example might involve an administrator dropping in on a teacher's classroom during a specific lesson. Normal evaluation observations are generally done once a year but may be done more often. For some teachers, this type of evaluation is when they thrive.What are three purposes of observation? ›
Observations help guide our decisions, inform our practices, and help us to develop a plan of action that best fits each child's individual needs.What are 3 characteristics of a good observation? ›
Observation should be objective and free from bias as far as possible. It should generally be guided by a hypothesis. The observer must maintain ethical neutrality. He must consider hypothesis as something to be tested.What is the most common purpose of the teacher in using observation? ›
Classroom observations are used in conjunction with student formative assessment information so teachers can better understand their teaching practices and what students are learning.What is the importance of classroom observation tool for teachers? ›
The observation tool addresses the learning environment, student engagement, instructional quality, and curriculum implementation, which were components of the program quality review on which the district requested feedback. The classroom is adequate for the number of students and activities.What is the key to an effective observation? ›
Openness for sharing. Permission to provide the observations and perspectives. Sense of safety. Genuine care for the other person.
- Be On-Time. First things first, you should always be on time for your classroom observations. ...
- Wait a Few Weeks to Observe. ...
- Meet With the Teacher in Advance. ...
- Actively Observe. ...
- Be as Unobtrusive as Possible. ...
- Give Feedback. ...
- Say Thank You.
Observations can be overt (everyone knows they are being observed) or covert (no one knows they are being observed and the observer is concealed). The benefit of covert observation is that people are more likely to behave naturally if they do not know they are being observed.