Teacher Observations: You’re being watched | TEFL Jobs London

Teacher Observations: You’re being watched

by Donna Hutchinson
London based TEFL Teacher, @donnatamara

Teacher Observations: You’re being watched

By Woodwalker, with a retouche by Poxnar [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I had been managing to avoid it since finishing my CELTA, but the dreaded observations have come back into my life once again. I had to be observed first by the DOS and then by a colleague for a peer observation. Thankfully, in separate lessons which were about 3 weeks apart.

Since these were my first observations since achieving my CELTA, I must admit that I got pretty worked up about the whole affair. It brought back awful memories of feeling shaky, talking too fast and that one time I used a proper marker on the IWB (shudder)! A large amount of planning went into my first observation, much more than on a regular basis, there was a lot of paper and more than one PowerPoint presentation. I had to write up a plan with the timings and justifications for my lesson. This was rather tasking because generally I put together materials that I want to get through in my 3 hour lesson plus some extras if I run short. I don’t necessarily think about how many minutes each activity takes, well at least not precisely and including transitions. Let’s say I was getting in quite a tizz about it! A benefit to the impending observation was that I scared the students into submission by saying I didn’t know when the observation would be (I did) so they better be on time everyday just in case. It worked. Sneaky little teacher trick there, don’t tell.

Thankfully, the observation went well and in the end, it was good to get some feedback because it had been over 6 months since my CELTA and in that time nobody had seen me teach except for my students.

The other observation; the peer observation didn’t allow as much preparation time but in the end, this was also beneficial. These kinds of lessons are more realistic because on a regular basis, I don’t have that much time to plan so it was a more authentic lesson. This too, provided some good feedback and put me at ease that I am on the right page with this teaching lark.

I’ve yet to observe any of my colleagues but I hope to in the next couple of weeks because despite the anxiety it fills me with, it is a good chance to see other tactics used by other teachers and bring them into your own lessons. Some of the things I do I learnt from observing other teachers on my CELTA, not necessarily from the input sessions.

Admittedly, I was also a little nervous about my students. You establish your own little world in your classroom with your students and you are aware of each other’s faults and quirks which, during an observation you might want toning down a little. In any case, I’m not sure why I was worried at all because I know my students and of course, they were perfect; they were very sympathetic to my anxieties and beavered away at the tasks I’d provided.

Despite their advantages, I must say that I am glad observations aren’t a common occurrence but when they do roll around, I suppose they are more of a benefit than a hindrance.


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