That’s right we’re watching you…

July 6, 2011

Here’s my blogpost from the IH teachers blog –

I find that there’s nothing teachers like more than being observed. There’s the joy of the pre-observation meeting; the warm fuzzy feeling of having your DoS sitting cozily in the back of your classroom; the enlightening buzz of the feedback session. What fun! What joy!


I suspect that there might be some teachers out there not quite so thrilled at the thought of the DoS coming in to observe.

I was the same. When I started teaching I was appalled at my tendency to become a complete idiot when being observed. I was once faced with a class of 8 students in a room that only had 7 chairs. I just stood there blubbering and pointing at the poor student who was left standing there. I had no idea what to do (quick tip – the solution to this problem –  which my DoS resolved for me – is simple…get another chair).

I’ve seen many teachers crack up whilst being observed – one teacher who sent the students home an hour early; another who brought (and for five minutes taught) material for an upper-intermediate lesson to a beginner group. I’ve even seen teachers pretend not to hear difficult grammar questions – Can you imagine?

Why all this fear? Why do we shudder at the thought of being observed?  I know it’s all a bit odd – but it’s time to be brave.

I suggest that instead of cowering from observations that we embrace them (easy for you to say, I hear you cry). Despite the stress, it’s an invaluable opportunity to reflect on your teaching style and the learning that goes on in your classroom. Having someone in there should make you think about what you are doing – before, during and after the lesson. It doesn’t matter if the person observing you has more or less experience than you – I’d even argue that they don’t need to be a teacher.

In my experience, the best teachers are those who are always re-evaluating. The teachers who ask themselves “How can I make this better for my students?” Of course there are many ways to do this, but having an observer in the class can really help you re-evaluate what you do. This can only benefit your students.

So – let’s start asking for more observations – Agreed?

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