Classroom observation is a method of evaluating and recording specific information about what is going on within a classroom. Administrators often implement observation periods in order to improve classroom models and learn from other educators. Observing another teacher's classroom and having your own class observed both have several educational purposes, including giving you the ability to describe instructional practices, evaluate inequities that exist for a specific student or group of students, and improve your own classroom instruction.
One of the foremost reasons to provide systematic observations of a classroom is to improve instruction. Feedback provided from an evaluation or profile can help a teacher become more aware of her strengths and weaknesses from an outside perspective. Teachers can improve classroom instruction if given feedback and suggestions on how to improve.
Classroom observation can provide administrators the opportunity to evaluate inequities in the classroom. Some groups or types of students may be treated differently in the classroom, which results in inequitable interaction and different learning outcomes. Whether this is a result of gender or other patterns, observation can help raise questions about inequity in the classroom and provide educators with the means of addressing educational disparities.
In some classrooms, there is little variety in teaching practices. Many teachers lecture, but this is not necessarily the best way to reach students who are not auditory learners. Some teachers do not allow students to interact with them or with fellow students, causing students to be passive in the classroom. Observing a classroom and watching for teaching methods that don't cater to all learning methods can allow you to give advice to the teacher and benefit the students.
Classroom observation can examine how technology is incorporated into a classroom, whether it's used well or ineffectively. Observations can show what technology is available to students in the classroom and how such technology is integrated into learning. Teachers can use calculators, computer technology, interactive whiteboards, videos and more to engage their students.
Some observational studies are implemented to evaluate a specific program and help to measure whether the program is meeting its goals. Observation data can help determine whether a school and its educational offerings are effective or ineffective, based on data taken in numerous classrooms.
Classroom observation can make educators more aware of how they behave in the classroom and of the needs of students in their classroom, and can also stimulate dialogue and discussion in a school district. Classroom observations can be a guide for teachers so they can reflect on their own teaching practices, and those who are observing can learn from other, perhaps more successful educators about their methods. Classroom observations allow educators and administrators to improve not only classrooms, but schools as a whole.
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