Classroom observations offer a variety of benefits for both administrators and teachers to take advantage of. Administrators can gauge job performance as well as determine where training and support can be improved. Teachers can learn new sets of skills, redefine their standards to optimize student inclusion, and rethink their short and long-term goals. But even with these benefits in mind, classroom observations can be intimidating and uncomfortable for teachers. As an administrator, here's what you can do to make the process more comfortable and less stressful for your teachers on staff:
Provide Pre-Observation Training
An excellent way to prepare your teachers for observations so they know what to expect throughout the process is to provide pre-observation training to them at the beginning of each school year. During the training session, make sure that the observation process you'll be using is well explained to the teachers, and that they have an opportunity to have their questions and concerns addressed. It's also a good idea to outline some tips and tricks they can use to maintain control in the classroom and work as if nobody else in the room is watching them. The teachers should also have a chance to meet and get to know the observers who will be spending time in their classrooms throughout the year.
Maintain an Open-Door Policy
It's also important to make sure that your door is always open for confidential classroom observation discussions so teachers know the can come to you with any issues they have without worrying about prejudice or judgement. Teachers should be able to make complaints or express concerns anonymously if they want to and feel confident that they won't have any repercussions to worry about. Your open-door policy can also facilitate mediation between teachers and observers when conflicts arise if necessary. This support system should help them feel more open-minded about the classroom observation process and reassure them that they still have the control over work situation.
Give Teachers a Chance to Observe
Giving your teachers a chance to observe their colleagues periodically throughout the school year will enable them to see what it's like on the other side of the stick. They'll be able to experience the process personally and explore all the ways that observations are beneficial to the observer. These observations will also give teachers the chance to share their ideas, techniques, tips, and tricks with one another based on what they learn while observing their peers. Set up a rotating schedule that enables teachers to sign up and observe at least two of their peers at some point throughout the year to ensure fairness and variety.
Conduct Post-Observation Interviews
To improve the classroom observation process in future years, take the time to conduct post-observation interviews at the end of the year with both observers and teachers. This will give you an opportunity to gain important feedback from each person involved so you can use the information to help develop the next year's observation procedures. Create a questionnaire that features pointed questions that teachers can respond to directly and thoroughly before their interviews. Give them at least a week to fill the questionnaires out before returning them to you so they have plenty of time to think through their answers. You can use the post-observation questionnaires that each teacher fills out as an outline for the in-person interviews to help guide the meeting and keep everyone involved on track.
The use of these techniques should make the classroom observation process more efficient and comfortable for everyone involved, and it should also help ensure that teachers and observers alike can grow from their observational experiences.