How to do class observation

The lesson observation

June 2019

Where do course instructors learn? - An effective way is the collegial observation of lessons.

Lesson observations are mainly known from exam situations or teaching samples. For many, they are more likely to be associated with rejection or fears, as the criticism is often feared. The fact that there is also great potential for personal development in class observation is lost in the process.

The observations have proven to be very effective in teacher and course instructor training, where they can be carried out for very different purposes. In addition to the collegial exchange of experiences or self-assessment, you can also serve, for example, to present new textbooks or teaching approaches.

In order to prove the observation of the lesson positively from the outset, two essential factors must be taken into account. Firstly, the objective and intention of the lesson observation should be clarified in advance, since the observation intention is of decisive importance. It makes a big difference whether the observation takes place for the purpose of a collegial exchange of experiences, whether it should be an object lesson for further training, whether the course instructor wants feedback and self-control or whether the lessons, such as in exam situations or teaching samples, should just be assessed and judged. So it is roughly divided into two broad directions: Is observation used for learning or for judgment?

The second essential prerequisite is to become aware of and to acquire the techniques of class observation. Observation is always subjective. Often vague generalizations and subjective judgments as well as prejudices flow into the evaluation - and very often with a tendency to perceive the negative or to look for "mistakes". In order to escape this subjectivity trap, you need a lot of practice with your own perception. The question: “Am I currently interpreting and speculating or am I describing what is happening neutrally?” Can help.

Of elementary importance, however, is the basic attitude that the observer takes in the observation situation. This should be openly questioning. This means that every possible point of criticism must be examined according to the underlying question. If, for example, it is observed that the course instructor does not correct the learner's mistakes, this can be stated in the evaluation. “I noticed that you did not correct the mistakes in this exercise. I am interested in why. ”This signals interest and willingness to discuss. There is space to discuss working methods, ideas and approaches.

In order for this openly questioning attitude to develop, it actually helps to be curious, but above all to accept other ways than your own. Because, one cannot say it often enough, there is no right or wrong. What is correct is what is received by the learners and what helps them.

Our blog author: Anke Kuhnecke