Series: New Teacher Survival Guide

New Teacher Survival Guide: The Formal Observation

Lesson Objective: Learn key elements and helpful hints for a formal evaluation
All Grades / All Subjects / Teacher Evaluation

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Thought starters

  1. What information should be shared during the pre-observation meeting?
  2. Why is it essential to have a "back-up plan" for your lesson?
  3. How self-reflective and open to constructive criticism is the teacher during the post-observation?
22 Comments

Breaking the observation down into three parts was very helpful.  Being able to provide background on the class and asking the observer what they will be looking for could help ease nerves a bit.  Backup plans are always a good idea!  Being open to constructive criticism is a must if you want to improve your effectiveness in the classroom. 

Recommended (0)

Thank you for this video! As a future teacher I am already sweating formal observations. It was comforting to see that the observers are realistic in their expecations of the teachers lessons. I like how you had a backup plan in case the lesson were to go wrong. I'm sure that happens more times than not. Thank you for the tips!

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I teach pre-k, most of my day is expecting the unexpected. She seamlessly transitioned when the experiment did not workout. Back-ups are vital! Good call!
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Many of the points made in the video seem like common sense, but when planning lessons or anticipating an observation, the ideas shared in the video become the least of your worries. This video was a good reminder that observation days are just like any other teaching day.
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I always look forward to having others come watch me teach. They can see things that I may not see when in the mood of teaching. I look forward to hearing how they saw the lesson and what they feel could be done better or even things I may have missed. While I may be the one teaching I am always open to learning my self.
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External Resource Materials

Transcripts

  • Bars and Tone etc. (Conform to specs)

    [0.12]
    Series Title Sequence:
    New Teacher Survival Guide

    Program Title:
    The Formal Observation

    ACT 1

    Bars and Tone etc. (Conform to specs)

    [0.12]
    Series Title Sequence:
    New Teacher Survival Guide

    Program Title:
    The Formal Observation

    ACT 1 : PRE-OBSERVATION

    Beat 1: Intro to Laura Gurick

    [0.10]

    SEE: establishing shot of Herricks High School in the morning

    LAURA GURICK IS FINISHING UP HER FIRST YEAR TEACHING CHEMISTRY AT HERRICKS HIGH SCHOOL ON LONG ISLAND IN NEW YORK.
    students walking into school/in hallways

    Laura in her clasroom
    clock Actuality
    Laura: Good morning
    INTV Laura

    Lower third: Laura Gurick 1st year Science teacher Herricks High School

    Laura: It’s amazing to look at your students and realize that you’ve been their teacher for seven or eight months now, but it feels like it's still September and you’re just starting out.
    See Laura going over her lesson TODAY, LAURA IS BEING FORMALLY OBSERVED, AND SHE’S A BIT NERVOUS.

    INTV Laura GuricK
    Laura: If somebody is an expert in your subject, and now they’re in your classroom. That’s usually the most nerve wracking experience.

    BEAT II : Classroom Observation Overview

    KAREN HUGHES, LAURA'S DEPARTMENT CHAIR, IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ASSESSING NEW TEACHERS.

    NEW TEACHERS AT HERRICKS ARE FORMALLY OBSERVED FOUR TIMES DURING THE YEAR – AND THE STAKES ARE HIGH.

    Someone in the back of the room who is a trained educator, who has more experience is really going to be making a judgment on you. That will affect your job performance and how people in the building view you and how your career is going to step ahead on that particular building.

    TO MAKE THE PROCESS LESS INTIMIDATING, A NEW TEACHER CAN THINK OF FORMAL OBSERVATION IN THREE STAGES: PRE-OBSERVATION, OBSERVATION AND POST-OBSERVATION.
    INTV Karen Hughes
    For a new teacher, I think it's nice to outline things in that 3-part process, because they can see a beginning, they can see the process, and then they get the feedback and they can see the end.

    Beat III: Pre-Observation Meeting
    Shot Karen behind her desk See Laura entering Karens room
    Actuality:
    Karen: Good morning how are you?
    Laura. Good how are you?
    Karen: All righty.

    See Karen and laura standing/ chatting

    BEFORE HER FORMAL OBSERVATION, LAURA MEETS WITH KAREN TO DISCUSS THE LESSON SHE WILL BE TEACHING.

    INTV Karen Hughes: The more easily a new teacher can actually build a rapport with the evaluator and [19:03] talk about the lesson and the importance of the lesson, it’ll make the entire process less painful for everybody.

    Graphic: Tip:
    Request a face-to-face pre-observation meeting.

    Shot of Karen and Laura sitting down A FACE-TO-FACE MEETING ALLOWS LAURA TO PROVIDE VALUABLE INFORMATION ABOUT HER CLASS.
    Actuality

    Karen: Before we start with the academics of the lesson, can you tell me a little bit about the dynamics in the classroom?
    Graphic: Tip:
    Share information about classroom dynamics
    Laura: It's a very dynamic class. They love to participate, in terms of the questions that are relevant to chemistry, as well as the side things that they think of and try to apply to whatever we're doing in class.
    Karen: So when they are animated... is calling out in class “animated?”

    Laura: We gotten to the point where I won’t answer anybody -- I'll just raise my hand... very exaggerated, and say, why are we not raising our hands.. so I try to get more of that control.

    INTV Karen Hughes Hughes: In the pre-observation meeting, the teachers should be very well informed about where they want that lesson to go.
    Karen: Tell me a bit about yesterdays lesson and then put it in the context of what I'm going to see today.

    Graphic
    Tip: Explain the objectives of the lesson plan being observed.
    LAURA EXPLAINS THE OBJECTIVE OF HER LESSON AND HOW IT FITS INTO THE OVERALL UNIT.

    Laura: yesterday we had a test, we had a test on bonding. So the first period was a bonding test and the second period we continued on gas laws.

    Laura: So we've done a bulk of the unit already.

    Laura: The goal for this lesson is to really, demonstrate and bring some tangible real life experiences... that they can grasp the concepts and use Boyles law, Charles law, and those relationships to relate to how things change.

    I'm hoping to get two of the demonstrations physically done in the room. One of them they are doing themselves.
    Shot of conversation w/o sound THE TEACHER SHOULD ALSO ASK WHAT THE EVALUATOR WILL BE FOCUSING ON DURING THE OBSERVATION.
    Graphic: Tip:
    Ask about observation criteria.

    Karen: I'm looking for overall tone of the lesson, the comfort level of the students in the class, the level of engagement of the students and the level of content material and how you're presenting it. So that's what I'm going to be defining as good teaching.

    Karen: If you see me writing really quickly, that doesn’t mean that what I just saw was bad. It just means that it's a point that I want to have down on a piece of paper.

    Karen: just ignore me and go on with it. Ok?
    Laura: OK. Thank you.
    Karen: See you upstairs later on.
    Laura: sounds good...

    ACT II : The Observation

    BEFORE THE CLASS BEGINS, LAURA CAREFULLY CHECKS THAT ALL NECESSARY TEACHING MATERIALS ARE READY.

    Graphic:
    Tip: Double check that all components of the lesson plan are well prepared.

    Students entering the classroom

    INTV Karen

    Karen: To have a lesson going on where the teacher has not pulled up all materials necessary for that particular demonstration, it slows everything down, it doesn’t show a level of preparation that you would expect.
    Karen sitting in the back of classroom.

    See Laura starting the lesson

    I'm heating up a can! Yes I am!

    Graphic

    Tip: New teachers should prepare a backup plan LAURA HAS A BACKUP PLAN PREPARED IN CASE THE LESSON DOESN’T GO EXACTLY AS PLANNED.

    We see laura teaching, Karen observing.

    Laura: If this is not going to work right now, we will have to do it tomorrow, because we're running out of time.

    Ok so steam's coming out, now I'm Immersing it in super cold water. Nothing worked

    INTV Laura
    Laura: What was supposed to happen is, once you invert that can into an ice bath of water, the can will collapse and implode
    Actuality: Laura: I'm mad at science right now, science and I dont get along today.
    Intv Laura Laura: What I did instead was, I showed them a video of a different gas law.

    Soundup Laura: OK what we're going to do is view a little clip of Myth busters.

    Laura: I was able to teach the same concept but with pictures o the computer.
    See Laura’s class finish up, and the students and Karen walk out.

    URIE1672_01
    Laura: totally not the lesson you expected to see , but that's how teaching goes...

    ACT III : The Post-Observation

    Karen and laura coming in

    Hughes: Come on in, we’ll talk.

    Gurick: Thanks you. All right.

    Hughes: There is obviously a comfortable feel in the classroom. You certainly have a number of kids who are characters in there.

    Gurick: Yes I do.

    Over shot of conversation
    NOT de-focused THE POST OBSERVATION MEETING IS CRITICAL. IT GIVES LAURA AN OPPORTUNITY TO EXPLAIN DECISIONS SHE MADE DURING THE LESSON

    Hughes: Let’s talk about the homework, if we can go back to the beginning.

    Hughes: You had your goggles on you were ready to go, you asked them to pull the homework out but you didn’t walk around the room, you didn’t check it.

    Gurick: No I didn’t.

    Graphic: Tip
    Explain teaching decisions

    Gurick: Because today I was up at the front of the room with the Bunsen burner trying to get that lit and going, I didn’t, I wasn’t leaving that area,

    Just because of the Bunsen burner safety issue, so didn’t feel that it would be appropriate to go around the room and check homework.

    SEE shot of conversation.
    DURING THE POST OBSERVATION MEETING THE TEACHER SHOULD EXPLAIN ANY UNEXPECTED CHANGES TO THE LESSON.

    Laura: I think they were more burnt out than I thought they were yesterday because I tried to teach after their test.

    Laura ... especially when I was going around I saw a couple of blank papers and I asked one of the girls, I said you know, What are you thinking?’ she goes, I really just want to look back in my notes.’

    Laura: So today was a lot of reviewing and asking questions
    Actuality: which one are we doing? Since you don't have it down, this would be a really good tie to see if you can do it.
    INTV Karen Hughes Karen: In the middle of the lesson, when she realized the students did not grasp the material, she did a good job of doing a balancing act and bringing them back and reinforceing what they needed.. so that tomorrow's lesson – she may be a day behind, but students will understand the material better.
    Laura: It was not one of my best teaching days of teaching..
    Karen... No its not a criticism... it's just that they actually saw the wheels in your head and how you actually got there.
    INTV Karen 2

    Graphic:

    Tip
    Be self reflective and open to constructive criticism.

    Hughes: [TIP] I have found that the teachers that are most successful are the teachers that are most self-reflective
    So they have given thought to the lesson that they taught, before they sit down and have the conversation with me. Sometimes what the teacher thinks is a short coming, is ok for me... and I focus on something else.

    I have to tell you that, what you couldn;t hear, was the girl in the back, after you did the popsicle stick with the PTV – she leaned over to Cassandra and said “That was great, i'm so glad that she slowed down, now I get it.”

    For their goals, where they came in starting today, was an effective lesson.
    Laura: OK. Good.
    Karen: Relax, it’s done.
    It was a nice lesson.
    Laura: Thank you

    CONCLUSION

    See Karen and Laura getting up and see laura leave,
    Karen typing in her office LAURA IS GIVEN A COPY OF THE WRITTEN EVALUATION AND A COPY IS PLACED IN HER FILE TO BE USED FOR HER YEAR-END ASSESSMENT.
    TEACHERS THAT DON’T AGREE WITH THE ASSESSMENT SHOULD LET THE OBSERVER KNOW IMMEDIATELY.

    Hughes: The onus is on the teacher to reach out to the person who’s observed them to find out how they would have like to have seen the lesson go and what areas of improvement they would like to see and what strategies they would suggest that the teachers follow next time they're being observed.
    Hughes: I have never observed a class that was perfect and I've never taught a class that was perfect. It is always supposed to be the goal of the teacher, that you can always try to teach that lesson the next time better.

    Request a face-to-face pre-observation meeting.
    Share information about classroom dynamics
    Explain the objectives of the lesson plan being observed.
    Ask about observation criteria.
    Double check that all components of the lesson plan are well prepared.
    New teachers should prepare a backup plan
    Explain teaching decisions

    Be self reflective and open to constructive criticism.

School Details

Herricks High School
100 Shelter Rock Road
New Hyde Park NY 11040
Population: 1338

Data Provided By:

greatschools

Teachers

Laura Gurick
Science / 10 11 12 / Teacher
Karen Hughes
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