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Knowing how to prepare for classroom observations can help remove some of the fears of being watched by an administrator. For years, classroom observations have been a source of stress for teachers — and yet, they’ve also been an essential part of the learning process as an educational professional.
According to one study, about 59% of teachers agree they become better educators following classroom observations and feedback from their principals.
Although it’s natural to feel some worry, especially if you’re a first-year teacher, preparation can help you ace your classroom observation with flying colors.
1. Teach as Though Every Lesson Is Observed
Practice makes perfect. If you want to know how to prepare for classroom observations, teach every lesson leading up to the big day as though you’re being observed. The more comfortable you are with instruction, the better your chance of getting high scores.
How do you envision your lesson to look for your classroom observation? That’s precisely how you should deliver every lecture to your class. By practicing this way, your teaching strategy becomes second nature — meaning you’ll have less performance anxiety on the day. Of course, every lesson should consider your students’ learning needs first.
2. Ensure Technology Is Working
Technology has become a critical component of education in recent years. Incorporating digital presentations in the classroom fosters student interactions and creativity during lessons. Yet, your worst nightmare could be that the tech malfunctions during observations, ruining your lesson plan in front of the principal.
Always check whatever devices and equipment you plan to use on the day of observations, whether it’s a television, overhead projector, computer, or smart board.
3. Build Lesson Goals and Strategies
You want to appear natural during your classroom observations, but you’ll still need to build an intriguing lesson plan with measurable outcomes. Timing is everything, from how quickly you deliver the material to how long you give students to raise their hands with questions or answers to problems.
Look online if you need inspiration. There are several free lesson plans teachers can use. For instance, Share My Lesson has over 420,000 resources with 15 million downloads since 2012. You should also inquire with more seasoned teachers at your school about what to expect during classroom observation and their lesson recommendations.
4. Encourage Student Participation
Classroom observations will only prove successful with student participation, so encourage everyone to raise their hands throughout the lesson. Although some might feel nervous speaking out loud in front of their peers or the principal, you can create a safe and comfortable environment for each student.
Student participation demonstrates to your principal that students are interested in the subject matter and eager to gain knowledge in a particular subject area. You will also highlight your ability to hold their attention and interestingly convey the content.
5. Manage Student Behavior
Most students know to be on their best behavior when they notice a guest in the classroom. However, some teachers prefer to give them advanced notice — although it isn’t necessary.
It’s important not to place undue stress on students by telling them an administrator is coming in to watch them learn and ensure they follow the rules.
Instead, simply tell them that the principal wants to see what goes on during class, your approach to teaching, and how the students learn. If you make it a big deal out of classroom observations, you risk someone falling out of line and feeling anxious.
6. Take Your Own Notes
There will likely be a follow-up conference between you and your administrator, so take your own notes before, during, and after classroom observations. Reflecting on the experience will help you deliver solid feedback about your experience and clarify anything the principal questions.
It’s also beneficial to collect your notes to refer to as you tweak your approach to teaching, improve your classroom skills, and grow as an educator.
Ace Your Classroom Observations With Careful Planning
You can ace your classroom observations through practice and careful planning. Depending on how you perceive it, the experience will allow you to take your teaching abilities to the next level. Take what you learn from your classroom observations and follow-up meetings to improve your role as a teacher.