Observation Techniques – A Selection
At the New Mentors and New Professional Tutors‟ briefing day in July 2009 the following examples of observation techniques were discussed. Participants thought that these techniques might be welcomed by established mentors and professional tutors too.
Some student teachers need to be encouraged to use their opportunities for observing established teachers constructively, to help them develop their own practice effectively. If you have a student teacher who feels that she/he is “not really doing anything, just observing” you might find it helpful to print out one of the following techniques, perhaps on a card and give it to her/him. It won‟t take much time, the instructions to the observer are very clear, and the student teacher may be better able to understand the complex workings of the classroom.
DEVELOPING A 'PRESENCE' IN THE CLASSROOM
Part a) of this activity can be completed individually and part b) with another beginning teacher or colleague
a) Draw an outline human figure in the middle of a sheet of paper. This is the teacher you are observing. As the lesson proceeds, annotate your diagram with anything that you notice which helps that teacher to teach effectively. You will probably find several things to note about eyes and voice, as well as some about hands, mouth, shoulders, legs and so on. Try to be aware of non-verbal communication or body language, and to look out for signals which convey confidence, self-assuredness, calmness, enthusiasm, and so on - all the things which you will want to emulate in your own physical presence. Be prepared to show the finished product to the teacher you have been observing and discuss your findings. Reflect on the important signals this gives you in considering your own practice in the classroom. b) Once you have completed this exercise ask someone to produce the same diagram based on their observation of you.
From Dymoke, S. & Harrison, J. (2008) Reflective Teaching and Learning, London: Sage
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