by Alex Risley Schroeder
Teacher observation is an important aspect of a healthy Adult Basic Education program;
done well, it supports teachers in their work, acknowledges their expertise and their
effort, engages teaching staff, administrative staff and learners in an ongoing dialogue
about effective educational programming and delivery, serves as a channel for
communication about best practices, appropriate curriculum and pedagogy and provides
evidence of the quality of services being delivered.
Teacher observation needs to be understood from two perspectives:
- as a process and set of tools, and
- as part of the larger processes of staff supervision, staff evaluation and program
and staff development.
As you use this resource, keep in mind the existing processes your program already has in
place — these will provide clues to you about the kind of observation process and tools
that might best fit with your organization.
Using this Web Resource
This SABES Web resource focuses on examples of processes and tools for teacher
observation, but would be incomplete without indications about the larger processes with
which teacher observation connects. This resource has been created to help your program
either design and develop a new observation process or refine an existing one, including
tools, that meets the needs and circumstances of your program's structure, size and
educational offerings as well as the level of experience program staff have. Provided
here you will find:
The International Language Institute of Northampton, Massachusetts and the Mount
Wachusett Community College Adult Learning Program of Massachusetts have
generously shared their processes, tools and insights about teacher observation. In
sharing these resources, they request that you not adopt their tools wholesale, but use
them as inspiration and reference to develop unique tools and processes that are tailored
specifically for and by your program. Any other use of their tools — for example, for
demonstration and education purposes — must cite them as the creators.
In addition to these two rich "living" examples, the generic tools will give you insight into
ways observation can be used to address specific classroom issues such as "teacher talk,"
lesson pacing and student participation. The annotated resource list of books and journal
articles will give you a next step in your process of refining and stretching your own
thinking about teacher observation. Finally, SABES has several other resources that you
can tap for additional assistance, including an annual course on staff supervision.
Alex Risley Schroeder formerly worked with SABES West as Project Coordinator of the
Changes Project. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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