As one key factor in quality control process, classroom observation has become a norm in educators’ lives. However, for too many schools, that experience has been regarded as something that are “done” to the teachers. Many of them consider this supervisory process as the result of distrust. Some even view their principals’ efforts in this area as being ineffective in raising students’ performance.
To change this scenario, we urge leaders to think of this practice as more of quality improvement, not just quality assurance. School leaders could look at these principles to build their teacher strategy.
1. Teachers’ progression should be captured in alignment with their own professional development journey
Teachers must see observation as something helps them grow, which is beneficial to students and their school. To do that, leaders need to formulate teacher development path for each type/group of teachers.
When teachers can see their goals clearer as becoming head teachers, teachers’ trainers, curriculum specialists or other roles, they will realize that each goal entails certain milestones for them to achieve.
Once the path is clear, teachers could be more motivated and see observation as a supporting tool, not a threat.
2. Feedback should be clear and actionable
On the base, instruct your observers on how to keep teachers’ motivation flowing. Observers should have access to their observed teacher’s milestones.
The feedback they provide must reflect how that particular teacher is doing towards their goals.
It is important to deliver the type of feedback that is clear and concise so that teachers can generate some solutions of their own. Observers can add some suggestions on top of that and follow up later.
3. Teachers as Observers
When the observing activity is built on a culture of support, leaders can let teachers observe other teachers. By doing this, they can learn best practices from their colleagues and give them appropriate advices.
For example, teacher A and teacher B are both teaching grade 5. A can give engaging and informative presentation, which her students love. Meanwhile, B is struggling with presentation work. B can go on observation of A’s class, and he can learn the used techniques for his class.
Alternatively, A can observe B and help him address the existing issue with his class, provide some insights from her own experience.
This exercise is not limited by grade level or subject they teach. It is based on what target of that particular teacher. For example, the goal of keeping students behave well can be shared by different teachers from different grade or subjects.