Lesson Observation Tips
Apr 26, 2010 Teacher Training 2638 Views
With 20-60 minutes to demonstrate your teaching skills the pressure is on! There are many factors which cannot be controlled but many more that can. See your lesson plan as an MOT, if all the parts are there you cannot fail!
Is that you should be a facilitator not dictator - allow the pupils to work, the onus should be on the pupils involvement in their learning process not a demonstration of military drill. The quality of the your planning will soon be evident from the way the pupils interact with each other and engage in the task. The observer should be able to feel the energy from the pupils, who are hungry to demonstrate their new understanding and challenge themselves to overcome difficulties with the support of their peers and your guidance. Allow the pupils to make mistakes. It does not reflect poorly on your teaching, and it is a personal challenge that as individuals pupils must accept.
Always ask yourself what is the purpose of this task? Why are you asking the pupils to take part in this activity? Many times I have put so much 'thought' into an activity but in actual fact was not beneficial to developing knowledge, understanding or skill. Why on earth did I think it was a good idea? In reality it appeared more as repetition or a time-filler. How is this activity linked into the objectives set for the lesson? How does it add to the bigger picture? What skills are the pupils developing through this activity? You must ask yourself these questions because the individual observing your lesson most certainly will be!
Reflect on your own experiences either as a pupil back in school, a trainee, an observer, or as a practising teacher, and ask yourself what does a good classroom look like? Pupils engaged in relevant meaningful tasks, excited by learning, building self esteem, feeling challenged, sense of inclusion and achievement, and willing to take risks. Many teachers feel threatened by pupils asking, why are we doing this? Some may take this as an attack on their well planned and thought out lesson. However surely as educators we are preparing children to develop an inquiring mind, so why shouldn't they ask this? You would ask a question like this yourself as an adult. Teaching should not be about letting a child work out the hidden agenda of your lesson, but an insight into relevant new knowledge and understanding. If it is not relevant, why is it on the curriculum?
The accelerated learning cycle is a great template for an outstanding lesson and I would advise individuals to develop their understanding of this and embed it within their everyday teaching practice. The cycle enables teachers to carefully plan an outstanding lesson in a clear and well constructed way.
Here are 8 points for that great lesson!
1. Consider the environment and ensure a positive learning climate (this can be a fun activity)
2. Connect the learning which is about to take place with the students' experiences, in previous lessons and/or in the outside world. This could be incorporated into a brief starter activity.
3. Ensure that the students have the "Big Picture". e.g. let them know how this lesson fits into the overall topic of study.
4. Make the expected outcomes of this lesson very clear. e.g. "By the end of this lesson you will...." (be positive, creating an expectation of success).
5. Introduce new information, this does not mean by dictating it or overload on PowerPoint notes but create an activity that allows the pupils to discover new information. (remember to cater for the students' various learning styles)
6. The main student activity should be designed, whenever possible, to allow students to utilise their multiple intelligences (see Intelligences)
7. Give the students an opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned
8. Allow time for review of the lesson (try a co-operative learning structure!)
Each stage should be included but the duration spent on each stage could vary depending on the time you have for your observation.
Try it out! If you are already teaching try out the lesson with your own pupils. This will make your timings more realistic although not altogether perfect. Evaluate the lesson and make any necessary changes ready for the big lesson observation. Good luck!