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Classroom Observation Etiquette

Before the class

  • Arrange a pre-observation meeting so that you understand the context for the class you’re going to observe.  During the meeting you can ask questions about the class and explain the purpose of your observation (e.g., “I’m working on a teaching certificate and I am most interested in how you use questioning/technology/etc. in the classroom”).
  • Based on this meeting, develop a clear picture of specific things you will look for during the observation, but be open to other things that may come up.

During the class

As a guest in the classroom, remember to:

  • Be on time.
  • Remain unobtrusive, out of courtesy to the instructor and the students.
  • Take descriptive notes on the features of the class session. Try to be as specific as possible, e.g. “Four students volunteered to answer the opening question” rather than making generalizations such as “Great interaction.”  This will help you write a more substantial and interesting summary.
  • Stay the entire time unless you have previously arranged to leave at a break.

After the class

  • Briefly thank the instructor before you leave the classroom, and tell him/her one or two things you enjoyed about the class.
  • Follow up with an e-mail message thanking the instructor again.
  • Remember to keep your thoughts on the observation confidential.