Tony Gurr

Personal MISFIRES with Classroom Observation (…NOT Part 07)

In Classroom Teaching, Guest BLOGGERS, Teacher Training on 29/02/2012 at 2:09 pm

Those of you that have been following allthingslearning will have probably picked up that I have been “obsessed” with MISFIRES of late.

My daughter has just told me that she will unsubscribe from the blog, if I write Part 07 – so I will not! 

Michael Griffin (aka @michaelegriffin), working from Seoul, has done that…


Michael and I “met” and got chatting on Twitter (what a wonderful “community-builder” it is) as I built up my recent mini-series:

 Now, you see why my daughter is talking about emancipating herself from me and me blog!


I’d been planning on writing up a series on the “whoops-a-daisies” many of us face with classroom observation for ages – I started a few months ago and did an “exposé post” (CLASSROOM OBSERVATION – What Works, What Matters?) on what a “terrible observer” I must have been in my “youth”…



However, it was not until I came across a a couple of recent blog posts:

…that I decided to “pixilate” and “blogathon” my thoughts on why it is (IMHO) that we get it wrong just so bloody often.


I’m so happy to see that Michael has done an even better job in the “exposé post” department and really loved his willingness to be so open, honest and transparent

…these 3 little things ar so important to REAL LEARNing and helping us all avoid the misfires!

Thank you for sharing this Michael…


Michael’s post: 

Lately I have been doing a lot of work with Korean public school teachers who will be observers and mentors in their schools. I have been wanting to share my experience as an observee for quite some time…

Before I start I will share a little bit about the context of my story, which occurred at a language school attached to a university in Seoul. The language school had an intensive English program (among other programs) where students studied for 30 hours a week with a variety of teachers and had classes like reading, writing, listening, and grammar. Students at lower levels also had two speaking classes. One was called “Practical English” and the other was called “Learning to Speak.” The former was supposed to be more focused on accuracy and speaking in situations while the latter was focused on fluency and was considered a precursor to discussion classes…

Observations were generally a nebulous mix of development and evaluation. This means that suggestions and critical feedback (along with the occasional positive point) were given with an eye to improving teaching and overall customer satisfaction but the observations were also a chance for the Director to think about potential re-hirings.

Teachers didn’t really know what the criteria was and didn’t really know what to expect in the post lesson conference.  There was no checklist. There were no guidelines.

Also, teachers didn’t know when they would be observed. The director didn’t want teachers to prepare too much for the lesson and it seemed that she wanted to “catch” people teaching in their normal way. Of course, there was no pre-lesson conference or any discussion except, “I will be observing your next class in 15 minutes if that is OK.” There had to be a very good reason for it not to be OK and teachers almost always accepted this. 

From what I could gathered from experience and other teachers the post-lesson conference with the Director was generally pretty free flowing with the Director asking a (very!) few questions and then doling out suggestions and pointed critiques. 

Does this sound like a recipe for success in observation and feedback?

Click HERE to read on…

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