What Should You Look for When Observing a Classroom?

Ginger Abbot

Mar 22, 2023
what should you look for when observing a classroom

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If you’re conducting a formal evaluation, there are a few key metrics that can help you make your assessment. 

What to Evaluate During an Observation

Here’s what you should look for when observing a classroom. 

1. Time Management

The teacher should show up on time to teach their class. Evaluate how much time the teacher spends with individual students or small groups. How long do they spend getting class started? Is the lesson too fast, too slow, or just right? Also, look at how much time the teacher spends on each part of the lesson. 

2. Questions

Does the teacher ask questions that connect to the lesson objective? Are they asking questions that assess student understanding, and do the questions help students stretch their thinking?

The teacher should provide clear explanations of the content and answer students’ questions accurately. If they don’t know the answer, they should be honest or tell the students to figure out the answer for extra credit on their own time. 

3. Organization

When you first walk into the classroom, what is your impression? Is the area clean and well organized, or is it cluttered? Ideally, the teacher should have set a chair off to one side for you and included the lesson plan or nametag on the table.

Look for examples of student work, like posters or projects students have completed, hanging on the walls. It should be presented well and demonstrate student engagement. Also evaluate whether lesson plans are organized and support the flow of each lesson. 

4. Checking for Understanding

Does the teacher monitor students’ progress during their independent work time? During the lesson, does the teacher pause during appropriate times to make sure students are following along? Ideally, lesson plans should demonstrate awareness of possible student misconceptions and how they can be addressed. 

5. Engagement

Do students greet you when you come in? Look for children interacting with each other and with the teacher, not simply listening to a lecture. Do the kids appear to be in a good mood? 

Additionally, look for signs of teacher engagement. Does the teacher display a positive attitude? A 2022 National Education Association poll found that 90% of educators listed burnout as a somewhat or very serious problem, but teachers should try not to appear tired or exasperated in the classroom. 

The teacher should also walk around the room and attend to students. Ideally, the lesson should include fun, engaging activities that help the students enjoy learning. Students should have opportunities to work with a partner or a small group. The teacher should also cold-call students to get them to answer questions. 

6. Relevance

The best lessons teach something relevant and connected to real-world events. How does the teacher connect the lesson to real examples? Is the lesson plan up to date? Does the lesson include the use of modern technology that the students can use going forward?

7. Accommodation

Many classes include a student with special needs. They may have a learning disability, physical disability, or speak English as a second language. Look for signs that the teacher is accommodating their needs. How does the teacher tailor the lesson plan to help them learn?

8. Authority

The average U.S. teacher looks after almost 16 students per class. To keep the classroom running smoothly, teachers should have procedures for students to turn in homework, ask to use the bathroom, or raise their hands when making a comment. These classroom procedures should be posted and enforced. 

Do students respect the rules? What is their relationship with their teacher like? The teacher should also be dressed professionally to demonstrate that they take their job seriously. 

What Should You Look for When Observing a Classroom?

What you should look for when observing a classroom depends on what you’re evaluating. In general, however, you should keep an eye out for signs of happy students, active learning, and engagement with the lesson plan. The classroom should be well organized and the teacher should present a positive, professional image. 

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