Lesson observations


Developmental lesson observations

The self grows as we invest our energy in goals that we ourselves choose to pursue and in processes that respect our space, beliefs, creativity and potential. The self learns to see beyond as it explores and flows beyond. Such investment of energy is equally essential in our mindset and approach towards observation (Kurtoğlu Eken, 2014). In the SL, observation and feedback processes are based on a developmental, research-based approach where there is mutual willingness to see beyond the ‘particles’ alone embracing opportunities to explore waves of possibility for greater effectiveness in teaching and learning practices.

Developmental lesson observations are an inseparable component of SL PPD activities fostering teacher collaboration, colleagial discussion and sharing of ideas as well as self-reflection on and formative assessment of teaching and learning practices within a supportive environment. Developmental lesson observations are not assessed or graded; they are opportunities to support mutual learning and further professional development at an individual and institutional level. It is for this reason that data from developmental observations are also actively used to create an SL Profile based on an analysis of strengths in teaching and areas for further development to enhance teaching and learning practices. Please see the latest SL Profile: SLProfileBasedOnDev.Obs.-2014-2017 and Sep2017Workshop-DKE.

The process of developmental lesson observations involves the following stages and tools:

The pre-observation meeting (approx. 20 minutes): The pre-observation meeting is scheduled at a time convenient for both the instructor and the observer; a day before the observation or ideally earlier, but not on the same day as the observation. In the pre-observation meeting the instructor and the observer discuss information regarding students, the aims of the lesson and briefly the lesson itself. Instructors are invited to bring to this meeting any class information, lesson materials, etc. which they feel may be useful for the purposes of the observation. They are, however,  not required to produce a written lesson plan unless they choose to do so, in which case they can refer to the following sample lesson plan: DKE-Lesson Plan Sample-R4-Section H-23.10.2020-Final Version. In line with the developmental nature of the observation, the instructor and the observer also discuss any specific area(s) which the instructor would additionally like the observer to focus on during the lesson observation. At the end of the pre-observation meeting instructors  are also referred to the LessonReflectionForm which they are invited to use or refer to for self-reflection purposes after the lesson observation.

The lesson observation (50 minutes or longer if the instructor wishes so): The lesson observation is scheduled at a time convenient for both the instructor and the observer; latest the day after the pre-observation meeting, ideally a few days beforehand. Before the observation, instructors can share with their students the idea that developmental lesson observations are a regular PPD activity within the SL and that the observer will be a guest engaging in a developmental observation activity in the lesson. During the lesson observation, the observer will most preferably sit in the back or a corner of the room from where s/he will be able to observe the whole class. In terms of lesson data, the observer takes notes on blank sheets of paper or uses a running commentary.  Following the lesson, both the instructor and the observer reflect on the experience; the instructor uses the LessonReflectionForm and the observer summarizes the strengths of the lesson as well as areas for further development using the LessonObservationFeedbackForm following an analysis of the lesson data in his/her running commentary.

The post-observation meeting (approx. 45 minutes): The post-observation meeting is scheduled at a time convenient for both the instructor and the observer; at the earliest the day after the observation or ideally a few days later, but not on the same day as the observation. In the post-observation meeting the instructor and the observer share their reflections and notes on the whole lesson as well as any specific area(s) the instructor may have asked the observer to additionally focus on. Once again, instructors are welcome to bring to the post-observation meeting any written documents such as their LessonReflectionForm, student-produced class work etc.

Feedback on the whole cycle: Following the completion of the whole cycle, instructors are invited to:

a) give/send the observer brief written feedback (a few paragraphs) on the whole cycle reflecting on how the observation cycle went for them, learning points, questions, how they felt etc.

b) share their holistic feedback on the whole cycle using the short form available at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/OPDandDevObs

The CriteriaForEffectiveTeaching-KurtoğluEken-RevisedAugust2017 acts as a guide for both the instructor and the observer throughout the whole developmental lesson observation cycle.

SL instructors are welcome to observe any members of the developmental observation team; ask to work with a different observer if they so wish; suggest the use of different observation or feedback tools than those used by the observer; share/send concerns or suggestions any time using the online feedback form or discuss these with the relevant observer, the PDR Coordinator or the SL Director.

In terms of their relation to SL Performance Reviews, the SL Director has access to the data from developmental lesson observations, but this is almost always with a view to supporting situations positively where data from CIAD student course evaluations (SEI) might be too limited or suggest otherwise in terms of the instructor’s teaching skills or abilities.

Current members of the Developmental Lesson Observations Task Group: Andrew Bosson, Deniz Kurtoğlu Eken*, Jacqueline Einer and Sharon Çeltek.

Assessed lesson observations

The assessed observation scheme is part of the New Teacher Induction Program (NTOP) in the SL and is coordinated by the Projects, Development and Research (PDR) Coordinator. The PDR Coordinator and other members of the Developmental Lesson Observations Task Group work with new teachers on a regular basis through PPD workshops, mentoring and support meetings and assessed lesson observations. Assessed observations are NOT inspections. In fact the process of assessed lesson observations involves the same stages as those in developmental observations discussed in detail above: the pre-observation meeting; the lesson observation; the post-observation meeting and the feedback on the whole cycle. The tools used are also similar and with additional options for lesson observation feedback which instructors can choose from. In terms of self reflection, instructors can also make use of their co-designed tool: What questions do you ask yourself after a lesson to reflect on its effectiveness? 

The SL believes in a holistic approach to the assessment of observed lessons due to the complex nature of teaching and learning. This, however, by no means excludes a constructive analysis and discussion of the lesson observed. The SL Criteria for Effective Teaching acts as a key resource in this analysis with written and oral feedback provided on the observed lesson. SL minimum teaching standards reflect the Development Phase 2 global description as outlined in the Eaquals Framework for Language Teacher Training and Development (2016: 9):

[Teachers in Development Phase 2] have confidence and show initiative in planning, delivery and evaluation. They are open to and aware of issues that arise in the learning  and teaching process, and can independently identify and implement appropriate teaching strategies, seeking guidance as necessary.

In terms of the actual assessment of the lesson, the PDR Coordinator or other members of the Developmental Lesson Observations Task Group and the instructor discuss and agree on the specific feedback approach to be used from among various options (Please see pages 5-13). The lesson is assessed as: ‘Not yet meeting the SL standards’ or ‘Meeting the SL standards’. Each new instructor has minimum one and maximum three assessed lesson observations throughout the academic year. The exact number of observations depends on the assessment result of a given observation.

New instructors are also encouraged to take active part in other Observation-based Professional Development (OPD) activities such as peer observations and team teaching with other colleagues as such activities provide rich opportunities for further professional development.

Key determinants in the assessment of teaching effectiveness

Our research studies and lesson observation analyses have shown that the following aspects from the SL Criteria for Effective Teaching play a key role in determining the effectiveness of a lesson:

  • Teacher knowledge and awareness
  • Lesson planning and preparation
  • Rapport and communication with learners
  • Learner engagement and involvement in the lesson
  • Provision of scaffolding and challenge in learning
  • Exploitation of materials and tasks
  • Principled variety of techniques and work modes
  • Monitoring learning
  • Adaptability and flexibility to support learning
  • Lesson unity and a clear sense of direction in the lesson

Copyright by Sabancı University School of Languages

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