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Classroom Teaching Observations Principles to Consider

  • Classroom observations only occur in classes that both the faculty member and the chair have agreed upon. Also pre-arrange the debriefing time. This practice ensures that chairs see faculty members at their best and that student learning is not interrupted as they exit.
  • The faculty member should have a place prepared for the chair to sit with course syllabus and handouts for the day, textbook, and/or any other materials that would assist the chair in understanding goals/objectives of this particular class.
  • The chair should be introduced as a visitor who is interested in the process of teaching.
  • The chair should try to stay the entire class period.
  • Debriefing occurs at the pre-arranged time. it is always productive to let the faculty member begin with personal impressions of the class, both positives and concerns. The chair can build on their impressions with observations and suggestions. Suggestions are always that, just suggestions: One strategy to uphold the faculty member's professionalism is to try to frame the suggestions as questions that Game to mind while observing.  For example, "l also noticed that the groups seemed slow in getting started on the case study. I wondered if giving each group a different part of the ease study to discuss would have helped them focus earlier. Maybe giving them a time limit would help to keep everyone focused." lf the faculty member responds that they have already tried that, or gives a reason for not implementing the suggestion, that is O.K.  The goal of this experience is to help the faculty member process his/her teaching effectiveness. Learning to teach effectively is a never-ending process and "ah-ha" moments come at many different times.
  • The chair should have the written observation typed and ready to give a copy to the faculty member. The faculty member gets a copy and the chair keeps a copy. The chair may want to add to the document as the faculty member responds to specific suggestions.
  • Another nice touch is for the chair to articulate how observing the faculty member's class has added to the chair's understanding of effective teaching.

Ann Singleton, Union University