The Importance of Classroom Observations

Notice the title of the post…”The Importance of Classroom Observations.”

When you hear the term, do you think of observing and evaluating teachers or of the logistics of the space?

To me, the term means something different, and it is more of an evaluation of administration than it is of teachers.

Let me explain…

When I worked as a principal and eventually at central office, I would often take my laptop into classrooms with the permission of a teacher and simply sit in the back of a class and answer email or complete documents that I needed for my work.  I would spend easily 2-3 hours in a classroom, and I would often explicitly tell the teacher that I was not there to observe them, but the environment we helped create in the classroom to support them.

For example, I remember having a conversation with our IT department on how our computers only took two minutes to login. But that “two minutes” with 25 students in front of you and one of them going wrong could turn into 30 minutes, and eventually lead to a teacher not wanting to use them again. You see, the “two minutes” was the time it took a single adult.  When I noticed this, we had conversations on how we would lower the “login time” for technology (we moved to Chromebooks) to remove a barrier in the classroom for all of our teachers so they could see more success in the process.

“Class size” may seem inconsequential until you sit in a classroom for two hours and notice that it does have an impact on meeting the needs of individual students.

Seating in a classroom may seem insignificant until you have to sit at the same desk a students does for multiple hours in a day.

If you are in a role that makes decisions for what the environment looks like in a classroom, you need to be present in those classrooms.  Teaching might seem like a singular responsibility, but if we want to ensure the success of our students, we have to understand that it is a team sport.

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Source: George Couros