On arrival at my main placement school, I am greeted by mentor who gives me a whistle-stop tour of the school and who’s who. I’ve been told by my training provider that the first two weeks are all about observation – that we are going to do nothing but observe for two weeks.
Initially, I found it difficult it to see the value of observation, as I have previously worked as Learning Support Assistant. I have seen many different teachers teach and so have a good understanding about happens in the classroom and what I would like to try.
Having said that, it was interesting to just watch classes unfold. I found it useful to have a notebook with me and when ever I saw something I liked, (behaviour managment/activity etc) I would jot it down so that I can draw on these ideas later when I start teaching.
How To Observe
Initially I began observing lessons by writing a narrative of everything that happened, but I quickly realised that it was too time consuming and I wasn’t making the most of the experience.
Observation is at its best, when each lesson you observe has a clear focus. Some ideas for observational focus could include:
- Structure, Organisation & Instruction.
- Behaviour Management & Relationships
- Inclusion, Involvement of Students & Questioning
Moving forward from my initial observations, I will be applying a Multimodal approach to future observations. Multimodal – seeing meaning in everything not just what’s spoken or written. Multimodal observation looks for meaning in everything that happens within the classroom and allows you to use it to help you develop as a teacher, as well as considering all impacts on pupil learning. Key features you could observe include:
- Classroom layout
- Visual displays
- Teacher’s movement
- Teacher talk
- Teacher’s non-verbal communication
- Pupils’ movement and talk
- Pupils’ non-verbal communication
In the first week I stayed within the role of a non-participant observer. This is because I found it really useful to see how the class interacts as a whole and responds to the teacher without my input. I also was able to make a note of what activities work well with specific groups and also pupils to make a note of. In the second week I became an active participant and took more of a TA role, assisting pupils when appropriate, interacting with them and getting to know them (in anticipation of teaching classes).