One of the best parts of my job is getting into classrooms and watching instruction – – my heart beats a little faster when I get to be in the thick of things with actual teachers and actual kids!  I love being where the action is!

As I mentor and coach principals, coaches and teachers in what to look for when they’re creating lessons or giving feedback to others as they observe them, folks ALWAYS look over at my rapid note-taking during a lesson and ask, “What the heck are you writing down?”  I say “EVERYTHING!”

What I know is that when I have more notes to be able to share with a teacher, I am a more powerful observer.  After all, when I am watching a teacher, my main goal is to be a fly on the wall – a second pair of eyes that catch important things going on that the teacher ordinarily can’t see!

A long time ago I started a list of things that I would share with principals about what to look for during an observation and I’d like to share 10 of those things with you here!  You get a peek into my private notes!

Jill’s Top 10 Things To Look For During Observations!

  1. Number of whole group/individual responses
  2. Number of responses from a particular students (GATE, SpEd, ELL, intensive or strategic student)
  3. Quality of responses (complete thoughts, extended responses, use of academic language)
  4. Objective or purpose of the activity is totally observable and matches the task that students are engaging in
  5. Perfect practice/number of corrections
  6. Timing or pacing of particular parts of a lesson
  7. Quality of questions (Recall only?  Deeper thinking questions?)
  8. Rate of wait-time
  9. Teacher talk vs. student action
  10. Teacher teaching academic language vs. students using academic language

Once you determine what you’ll be looking for, then you need to ask yourself the question: What do I need to jot down so that I can take measurable notes?  So, for example, if you’re observing for quality responses, you will script each student response and highlight after the fact every complete response that uses the academic language from the lesson.  The highlights are a great visual to show exactly how many quality responses versus incomplete or poor quality responses there were.  My debriefing of the teacher is focused on exactly what I saw, my highlights and lack of highlights.  It’s all right there – and I share my notes with the teacher directly!

Super simple and super powerful!

(Side note: As a teacher, I use the Top 10 list as my “must plan fors” during lesson planning…a surefire quality instruction booster!)

Stay tuned for next week where I’ll share 10 more things to look for during observations!